Food and Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album, Pt. 1 (2012). is an album that I have complicated relationship with. After being slightly disappointed with Lasers (2011), I was hoping for a Lupe album that would rekindle the fire that I felt every time I listen to his music. And this album wasn’t that LOL. After the first half of the project, it kind of dies out for me. So the top five for Food and Liquor II is made up exclusively of songs from the first half of the project.
I think even though the lyrics for “Strange Fruition” are so full and so deep, this is one of the Lupe songs where I can say it’s very easy to understand, and he makes the conversation he’s trying to add to very accessible. Because a lot of times it’s easy for Lupe to string words together in a way that makes what he’s talking about feel like you needed to have read 8 million books before you can be a part of the conversation. “Strange Fruition” jumps straight into a conversation systemic and institutionalized racism and how that impacts the daily lives of Black folks in America. It makes clear how we get from point A to point B, and how the behaviors and actions (the ones that are deemed inappropriate, aggressive, illegal) of Black folks living in ghettoized spaces are a direct response to the lack of resources and lack of support given to Black people in those spaces from the governments that are supposed to take care of them. And I think that particular piece is so important because I’ve seen so many times how people fail to understand those connections and how that impacts the ways that they understand what is going on in the world. And I think ,like I said, Lupe does a really good job at bringing that conversation into this song. And the production is great.
Again, I think this song does a job, just like “Strange Fruition,” at making complex conversations easy to navigate. And I also like how this song is more inward-facing (as far as who the audience for this song is), and how that pairs very well with the more outward-facing work of “Strange Fruition.” This very much is a song for Black folks. And it goes into the ways that we show love to ourselves, the ways that we treat other people, and pushes us to unlearn behavior and actions that cause us to self-sabotage. I also really like the chorus on this song.
“Around My Way (Freedom Ain’t Free)”
I think this song was a very smart choice for a lead single. And it very obviously is a lead single lol. There’s no other song on the project that sounds like this one. I think it’s a good song to listen to before listening to the entire project because it gives a pretty good summation of what the entire project is going to be about. And it does that on some pretty upbeat and catchy production that makes you want to bounce your shoulders.
I think the thing that I’ll point out particularly on this song is how much I love the third verse. I love the word play in this verse. I love the shout-outs to different parts of Black American history. I think that’s the best part of this song. And again, the production is great.
“Ayesha Says (Intro)”
I mainly wanted to include this song – I don’t really listen to this song that much – because Lupe’s sister is always one of my favorite parts of his projects when she’s on them. She’s such a talented spoken word artist and does a great job at encapsulating the world that Lupe creates on the remainder of the project. You can get everything you need from the project in the 2 minutes that she’s on it at the beginning. And I also like the idea of Lupe giving space to his sister on this album to communicate her talents in spoken word. I really would have loved to have her on the intro for DROGAS WAVE (2018). I feel like that was a missed opportunity.
So, because this is the last story for the “Week Fulla Lupe,” I want to offer my last words about this week. I think this week is a prime example of why I wanted to start doing these. My original intention for the Week Fulla series was to allow myself time and space to interact with artists who I love and explore deeper into their music. I often have the same five artists on repeat on Spotify LOL, and so these WF stories get me out of that same repetitive loop of songs. And also, more particularly to this week, it gives me the opportunity to listen to projects that I hadn’t heard yet (or all the way) and gives me the opportunity to engage with them fully. I enjoyed listening to DROGAS Light (2017) and DROGAS WAVE (even though DROGAS Light really could have not existed lol). They had been projects I had hoped to listen to for a really long time, and this week gave me the opportunity to do that.
I’m leaving this week feeling the same way that I felt about Lupe coming in. I think he’s a master at what he does. His flows, wordplay, the worlds and stories that he’s able to build with words is spectacular. In my years of listening, there’s never been anyone that I felt like was the next Lupe Fiasco. He’s just such an original artist and creator that it’s impossible to put anybody in his shoes. And I don’t see that changing for a really long time.
here’s something else you might like:
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 … Continue reading Week Fulla Lupe – My Favorite’s of All Time #16: Lupe Fiasco’s ‘Tetsuo & Youth’