Week Fulla Lupe – Album Look Back #11:Lupe Fiasco’s ‘DROGAS WAVE’

So here we are. I consider this one the main event – make sure you say that in your announcer voice. You know why we’re here. I know why we’re here. Let’s just get into it, shall we?

I mentioned in the First Listen for DROGAS Light (2017) that I was a little nervous about listening to DROGAS WAVE (2018). DROGAS Light was fine, but it didn’t really leave me feeling full. It was not at the level I was expecting from a Lupe project, and I was worried that DROGAS WAVE would be the same.

I am SO HAPPY to say that DROGAS WAVE was a really really good project.

Not too gangster to be dancin’ in the video.

Lupe fiasco, “happy timbuck2 day”

I will say that it was a journey, though. The beginning of the album had me feeling like this was going to be a repeat of DROGAS Light. “Drogas” was fine; I did like the Latin vibe and Lupe rapping in Spanish. “Manila” had me feeling like how people (who don’t like Lupe) always say Lupe makes them feel – like the stuff he’s saying is out of reach. Like I knew the words he was saying, but listening to it without the lyrics had me looking like Doc Rivers. I was like “QUE????” But with the lyrics, I was able to understand it better. Which is usually the case with me with Lupe’s music, but never to the level it was at on “Manila.” I don’t really have anything of note to say about “Gold vs. The Right Things to Do” or “Slave Ship” other than I began to notice – on “Gold vs. The Right Things to Do” – that it seemed like he was paying homage to different sounds from the African diaspora throughout the different production moments on the project, which I really liked. There were also some other good tracks that I liked but didn’t have anything of note to mention, specifically “Haile Selassie” and “Stronger” (I did really like the production though).

I loved the inclusion of “Alan Forever” and “Jonylah Forever.” I’m glad they could be remembered with joy and optimism for what could have been. They deserved that.

I did significantly enjoy the second half of the project SO MUCH MORE than the first half. It was actually on “Alan Forever” where I started thinking about how I liked the idea of the reimagining of the slave narrative and walking the listener through the undertold story of chattel slavery, but there were moments where it just didn’t hold up for me. But I think things really came together a lot better on the second half of the project. There’s a large chunk of songs that starts towards the end of the first half where Nikki Jean is featured (“Down.” “Haile Selassie,” “Sun God Sam and the California Drug Deals,” “Stronger,”and then “Quotations from Chairman Fred” and “Stack That Cheese” towards the end), and her and Lupe have NEVER let me down on a song. It felt like the songs where she was featured were consistently wonderful. Lupe’s flow on those songs was also GREAT.

Can’t keep the duck rubber under, fundamentally it’s buoyant.

lupe fiasco, “quotations from chairman fred”

And before I get into my favorite tracks i have to give an honorable mention to “XO,” “Kingdom” and “Imagine.” “XO” gives me very much “They.Resurrect.Over.New” from Tetsuo & Youth (2017) vibes. Again love Lupe’s flow. Damien Marley’s verse on “Kingdom” is perfection. He’s always a really good feature. And I like the moment of self-reflection in “Imagine.” Also I kinda glossed over “Stack that Cheese,” but it is a REALLY good song. I love the production and the bridge.

Now, look. “Cripple,” “King Nas,” and Happy Timbuck2 Day” are my FAVORITE SONGS on the project. So much so that I HAD to add them to my Spotify Liked Tracks. Literally if the whole project sounded like those 3 songs – plus “Quotations from Chairman Fred” – it would be the perfect album. The production on “Cripple” is blessed – that flute loop is *chef’s kiss* There’s a bit of heavy bass at the end of the song that I love, and the chorus slaps. There’s some super smooth production on “Happy Timbuck2 Day.” LOVE LOVE LOVE Lupe’s flow. The “gimmie the mic” in the refrain had me super hype! The beat on “King Nas” is also SO SO SMOOTH and jazzy. The bass in the production reminds me a lot of “Body of Work” from Tetsuo. And there’s a little moment at the end where he does like a little Quran scat??? That is one of the best moments on the entire project. “King Nas” really had me S H O O K. It really is at the level that I expect from Lu at this point in his career. And I love that it’s dedicated to his nephews. I saw a picture of Lu and his nephew Nas on Genius while I was looking at the lyrics, and it’s one of the cutest and most wholesome pictures I’ve ever seen in my life.


And then the project ends very triumphantly with “Mural Jr.” which for sure is worthy of the title. I think I like “Mural” better, but “Mural Jr.” is solid. I love how grand it is. Lupe sounds like a king on this. It could have easily been the intro for this project.

DROGAS WAVE is a great album. I really really wish that Lupe didn’t release DROGAS Light and instead jumped from Tetsuo to this. I think that would have been the perfect transition. While I was reading the lyrics on Genius, I saw some people in the comments say that this project was a masterpiece, and I wasn’t really here for that on the first half of the project. I definitely thought it was better than DROGAS Light, but I couldn’t quite call it a masterpiece. I can say that the second half of the project teeters the edge of masterpiece status. It’s perfectly crafted, Lupe sounds amazing, the features are great. There’s nothing I can say bad about the second half of the project. As a whole, DROGAS WAVE is solid. It’s another really good project from Lu. I do wish it was split into two separate projects, though. I just don’t see myself listening to this whole thing again. It’s just too long lol. But I get it, he had a story he needed to tell, and he needed as much time as possible. It was still long though. But Those last 6 songs were absolutely fantastic.

And you can bet your beautiful face I’ll be listening to those on repeat for the next couple days.

Featured Image Credit: https://genius.com/album_cover_arts/38318, edited by me 🙂

here’s something else you may like:

Week Fulla Lupe – My Favorite’s of All Time #15: “American Terrorist” by Lupe Fiasco

I think I’ve mentioned a couple of times on here that I was supposed to go see Lupe Fiasco a couple months ago during his food and liquor tour. But because of verona that opportunity. For me. I’m still sad about it to this day. American Terrorist was one of those songs that I was … Continue reading Week Fulla Lupe – My Favorite’s of All Time #15: “American Terrorist” by Lupe Fiasco

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