There was something about Lupe’s debut, Food and Liquor, that didn’t quite strike my fancy. Blame it on the over-hype that he was some sort of saviour of rap music, but the record didn’t impress me as it did for the majority of the music press.
The Cool, however, connected with me. Though the problem of a bloated running time still persists with his sophomore as it did with his debut, this time around, Lupe makes sure the cuts are tighter, the hooks catchier and the topics more interesting.
Despite sporting an easy-going, conversational flow, it’s not hard to recognise Lupe’s immense talent on the mic. From rapid-fire delivery to laid-back rhyming, there’s no doubt about his skills.
Even though I pretty much missed whatever vague concept he was striving with for The Cool, individual tracks highlight his songwriting prowess – from the melancholic “Hip-Hop Saved My Life” which opens up our eyes to the grind rappers go through, to the around-the-world tour of “Paris, Tokyo” and disenchanted “Dumb It Down” – Lupe’s penmanship is sharp, witty and extremely clever.
Backed by a sonic backdrop that swings from haunting gospels moans on “The Coolest,” frenetic strings of “Go Go Gadget Flow” and the Linkin Park-esque “Hello/Goodbye (Uncool),” The Cool confirms it across the board: Lupe Fiasco is one hip-hop’s most imaginative and unpredictable emcees.