Album Look Back #13: Lupe Fiasco’s ‘Food & Liquor’

[Insert obligatory “oof. It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these!”]. Before La Rona hit and we were all stuck indoors, I was supposed to go to a couple of concerts before the end of 2020. Orion Sun in April and Lupe Fiasco in March. Obviously, I was incredibly devastated that the panorama impacted both of those events, and my devastation has continued every day since (I wake up and go to sleep everyday with the hope that Miss Rona becomes a person, so I can fight her). However, last Thursday, I was BLESSED with the opportunity to see a ticketed live-streamed Lupe Fiasco concert where he performed the entirety of his Food & Liquor (2006) album. And WOW. What an experience. 

I’ve never had the chance – and it was stolen from me when I did – to see Lupe live before the live stream, so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. But he put on a fantastic show; his energy was incredible, the handcraftedness of the live’s set (and the set changes) were great (the main set was a garage (?) fitted with a half-pipe spray painted with the album’s title that Lupe and some skateboarders made use of throughout the performance), and the lines on Food & Liquor sounded 1000% better spoken fresh by Lupe. One of the most notable things about that project how well it’s aged in the past fifteen years, and it’s truly a project that offers Lupe at his best. Food & Liquor runs through a variety of topics including, religion-based violence (“American Terrorist”), single motherhood and familial dynamics (“He Say She Say”), love (“Sunshine”), and the gospel of “misfits and outcasts” (“Kick, Push” and “Kick, Push II)). The album is grounded in open and honest conversation – much like Lupe is. Lupe’s never been one to hold back his thoughts and feelings about things (I mean, he opens the project promising that we’re receiving his “[heart, soul, mind, thoughts, feelings, and experience…nothin’ more, nothin’ less]”), and he offers a range of perspectives on here. 

And they’re all SO MASTERFULLY crafted into an amazingly wide-reaching project without feeling too overzealous or ungrounded. A project like this could easily become one that feels preachy or haphazard, but Lupe’s remained focus while offering up some dynamic conversation. Some of my favorite moments of production are on here (“American Terrorist,” “I Gotcha,” “Daydreamin'”, and “Just Might Be Ok”), as well as some of my favorite lines including, “Can you please call the fire department? They’re down here marching for freedom” from “American Terrorist,” “Life, ain’t meant to come around twice / Yeah, that’s why I gotta get it right / They said I got it honest, now I gotta give it light…I mean, I had a dream that God gave me flight / Too fly for my own good, so God gave me plight” from “Real,” and the entirety of the last verse on “Hurt Me Soul” (really, that entire song is chef’s kiss). Not to mention, Lupe’s sister Ayesha gives us one of the best album intros of all time on here (the live-stream included a video-tapped recitation of the “Intro” by Ayesha). There’s nothing bad I can say about this project. 

See, I got this philosophy, right?

I think the world and everything in it

Is made up of a mix, of two things

You got your good, you know, and your bad

You got your food, and your liquor

Lupe Fiasco, “Intro”

And just…the album holds up so WELL. All of things that Lupe talks about on this project still plague our society today. One of the first things that came to my mind while watching the live stream was that the project sounded like it came out two weeks ago. And Lupe embodied that newness. Although Lupe has a few more gray hairs than he did when Food & Liquor was released, needed to take a few water breaks between songs, and was clearly a little fatigued after the first three tracks (and had to confirm with his DJ on what songs were next), as the performance went on, you could see him pulling strength and vibrance from the lyrics, and he seemed to come more and more alive as the show went on. He smiled through his clever lines and danced his way (which, for Lupe, was more of a two-step/shuffle mix) through production from Kanye West, the Neptunes (imagine having Kanye, Pharrell, and Chad work on your debut album….please!), and Soundtrakk. And I got into it just as much as I would have if I’d seen the show live. 

I don’t know if Lupe knew that he was creating an album so fantastic while putting Food & Liquor together. I mean, Lupe has never seemed unsure of what he was doing musically (we don’t really talk about “Old School Love” in this house), but like….I wonder if he knew??? That his album was going to continue to be so relevant and impactful 15 years later. Because this album is truly a powerhouse record, and I’m positive it’ll live on well past when the alien overlords finally come down from Planet Z and take over the world. They’ll use Food & Liquor to understand how humanity lived – and where we went wrong. 

After the show, I got an email saying my ticket for the postponed Food & Liquor tour show was still good for a rescheduled date later this year, and I might have to figure out a way to make it up to Brooklyn in December. I refuse to let that ticket go to waste! And last week, I found out that the album was being repressed for Record Store Day this year! So this feels like the year of Food & Liquor, and I’m here for it!

Listen to Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor on Spotify by clicking here.

Featured Image via Getty Images

here’s something else you may like:

Week Fulla Lupe – Top 5 #10: Songs from Lupe Fiasco’s ‘Food and Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album, Pt. 1’

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 … Continue reading Week Fulla Lupe – Top 5 #10: Songs from Lupe Fiasco’s ‘Food and Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album, Pt. 1’

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