Week Fulla Lupe – My Favorite’s of All Time #16: Lupe Fiasco’s ‘Tetsuo & Youth’

Tetsuo & Youth (2015) has remained one of my favorite albums of all time since it came out. I remember feeling slightly aggravated with Lupe after Food & Liquor II (2012) came out, and I was hoping that his next project would be something that I enjoyed a little bit better. Food & Liquor II wasn’t bad, it’s just I only like the first part of the project lol. The second half of the project feels like it just goes on and on, and I never really fully feel connected with it. Except “Hood Now” at the end. That’s a great song! And so because I was so disappointed with Food & Liquor II and Lasers (2011), I entered my listening to Tetsuo & Youth very skeptical. I think “Adoration of the Magi” was the first song that I heard from this project, and I wasn’t really messing with it, after I heard it. So I had an “oh brother, what am I about to get into?” moment after hearing it. And I’m so happy that I ended up being wrong about that project.

Triangle pose, seated twist
Upward facing dog, pigeon pose
In this bitch, that’s vulgar, that’s yoga
Let’s try it again with clothes, and closer, enclosure, exposures
The books that take you to heaven and let you Quiet is kept like Rosicrucian meet Cosa Nostras on Oprah’s sofa
With both controllers watchin’ Gazans and Ashkenazis ride roller coasters
Say yeah, yeah, lots of options, now up is down, two player
Now A is jump and B is punch, you seein’ somethin’ that wasn’t there
To find friendliness in a nemesis, it’s a old test
Three buttons, see somethin’, that’s emphasis on Genesis, oh yeah

Now let’s vogue, mountain pose
Downward facing dog, warrior pose
Tree pose, bridge pose

From beginning to end, Tetsuo & Youth is an absolute masterpiece. Including the cover art which Lupe painted himself. That has always been so impressive to me because it’s absolutely fantastic. I love how Lupe uses seasons to separate the album into four different parts, and I love how you can actually hear the inspiration of those seasons in the songs themselves. I also love how different every song on this project sounds from the songs before and after it. Truly there are no two songs that sound the same. The features on this project are also amazing. Nikki Jean is always great, and then there are some new collaborators who also come in and do a really good job at backing Lupe in the story that he’s telling. Especially Ty Dolla $ign in “Deliver.” Y’all know I love a Ty Dolla $ign feature.

I was also extremely happy to hear his sister, Ayesha, in the middle of “Prisoner 1 and 2” – I thought that was a great place for her to be. I also think that song is such a masterfully-made song. And shows Lupe at his best. He’s able to take one song and use it to express two different points of view of the same situation, and you don’t get lost in the sauce when you listen to it. And I think that’s something that Lupe has always done really well. He so easily embodies different stories and experiences and does them justice. I mean, he was doing that back on Food & Liquor (2006) with “He Say She Say.” It would also be extremely rude of me to not mention how great “They.Resurrect.Over.Now” is. It’s such a different sound for Lupe, but it works so well. And it has one of my favorite Ab-Soul verses of all time. I really wish they would have taken that opportunity to do a lot more songs together because I could use an entire Lupe Fiasco and Ab-Soul EP.

And I think with all of that, another really important thing about this project is what it meant for Lupe’s career. This was the first project that he released post-Atlantic, after having a very turbulent and disruptive relationship with the label. You can find him talking a little bit about that here. And so it’s amazing to hear him come out of that situation with a project that ended up being so spectacular.


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