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DAR Hip Hop: Ranking Lupe Fiasco's Albums

By @TrueGodImmortal 





Lupe Fiasco is one of the best lyricists I've ever heard in hip hop, I'll be honest. Lyrically, Lupe is one of those rare breeds of talent who is able to put words together to blow the minds of most listeners. With that being said, over the last 11 years, Lupe has released 6 albums, some of which have been universally loved, while others not so much. How does his catalog rank? We take a look at his albums and rank them from worst to the best. Let's get into it.

6. Lasers (2011)



-You knew this would be here. This album is here because it makes little sense. Lupe was set to release an entirely different album, but at some point, tbe direction of the album was changed and he decided to go with Lasers. Now, Lasers is admittedly an attempt at pop music, with Lupe utilizing more mainstream production and more mainstream guests on the album. The strategy for this album was seemingly to create controversy, as the release was stalled by a number of setbacks and conflicts between Lupe and Atlantic Records. A petition was signed by a number of fans asking Atlantic to release the album and Lupe would use this to help build up suspense and more appeal. As the album got ready to release, the buzz was the highest it could have been. However, the album itself is pretty bland. The production is subpar at best, with Lupe lyrically staying mostly at tact, but the songs here just don't work. There is the catchy single "The Show Goes On", but the song feels slightly lifeless at points, and the same could be said for the MTV favorite "Words I Never Said" with Skyler Grey. When the album does work, it works on a decent level like with the Neptunes produced "I'm Beamin", or the surprisingly solid Trey Songz assisted track "Out Of My Head". Overall, this album lacks in many areas and leaves you wanting more out of someone who had just released two classics back to back.

Top 3 Songs 
"I'm Beamin"
"All Black Everything"
"Out Of My Head"

5. Drogas Light (2017)



-His most recent album is interesting. Another attempt at an album with lighter content, Lupe doesn't execute as well as he should have with this project unfortunately. This album is supposed to be a part of a trilogy and this is the light version of the Drogas saga, which explains the "Lasers" like vibe of the album. The problem is that Lupe (who said this was done purposeful), has gone on record to state this was done deliberately. However, lyrically the album slightly suffers from Lupe taking a more free approach with his verses. It's not necessarily a dumbed down effort (it's not possible for Lupe to really dumb down his lyrics too much I believe) lyrically, but once again it pales in comparison to his previous efforts, minus Lasers. It's a bit more polished than Lasers, which is the only reason it is higher than the album on the rankings. Drogas Light has some good moments, BUT for the most part, this album lacks what we loved about Lupe's three extremely dope albums.

Top 3 Songs
"NGL"
"Tranquillio"
"Promise"

4. Food & Liquor II: The American Dream (2012)



-I personally am on the fence about this album for the most part, as I like it, but I also am not very fond of it. I think the issue here is that Lupe wasn't sure what he wanted to do anymore musically and though this is more socially conscious than his last endeavor, it still felt like it lacked direction. Or at least it felt that way. After the odd disaster that was Lasers, he came with F&L 2, which would in no way rival the first one. It wasn't a bad album overall, and there's some solid songs and production, but Lupe had gained an infatuation with more mainstream style production and some mainstream style songs, and while that could be weaved together with his knack for dropping knowledge, it doesn't work AS well as hoped here on this project. Singles like "Battle Scars", "Around My Way", and the slightly corny "Bitch Bad" did nothing for me as a listener, but I really enjoyed the tracks like "Lamborghini Angels", "ITAL (Roses)", "Strange Fruition", and the Bilal featured "How Dare You". This is a prime middle of the road album from Lupe, and while I think it's a step up from Lasers (and subsequently better than Drogas Light), it pales in comparison to the top 3 of his catalog.

Top 3 Songs 
"Lamborghini Angels"
"ITAL (Roses)"
"How Dare You"

3. Tetsuo and Youth (2015)



-Speaking of his top 3, this release from 2015 is definitely in the rightful position here. His 5th album was a return to form for Lupe, with an album that was his best since The Cool. Lyrically, Lupe was in a league of his own on this album, and he found the perfect balance of conscious music with vivid lyricism and songs that have a lot of appeal. The album was one of the best in 2015, with great production from the likes of S1, Moezart, Simon Says, and DJ Dahi that supplies Lupe with some of the best and most concise production he's ever had in his career. The high point of this album comes with one of the greatest Lupe tracks I've ever heard in "Mural", where Lupe provides some of the greatest verses of his career over a near 9 minute duration. It's the apex of the album, but there's a lot of great music here, as Lupe and Ab-Soul close the album out with the amazing "They. Resurrect. Over. New.", which shows both MCs lyrically at their best. Tetsuo and Youth was a welcome return to form for Lupe and it is firmly in the top 3 of his albums. It'll be hard to move out it of the top 3 going forward as well, I'm sure of that.

Top 3 Songs 
"Mural"
"Little Death"
"They. Resurrect. Over. New"

2. The Cool (2007)



-Personally, this is my favorite Lupe album. I think it's a daring project, but I'd be lying if I said it was as cohesive or well put together like his debut. It's a bit more experimental and darker, but Lupe sounds very comfortable in this element as well. They say with great pain comes great art, and after losing his partner Chilly to a jail sentence, his father to diabetes, and a good friend (Stack Bundles) to a murder, it seemed Lupe sought solace in making a darker album. The album is based around three stories and three characters: The Cool, The Streets, and The Game. The characters stand for moral plights essentially, with the Streets being personified as a woman, The Cool being personified as a reaper of sorts that's lost his way (and right hand), with The Game being.... well.... the game. It's a concept album essentially, but despite the concept, the music itself is just really great. The story flows well, even if the sound isn't as consistent and cohesive, and I consider the album to be a classic. The production of this album ranges from pop ("Superstar", "Hip Hop Saved My Life"), jazz rap ("Paris, Tokyo"), dark boom bap ("The Coolest", "Put You On Game"), and even some abstract pop ("Intruder Alert"). All in all, this album has so much depth within the music, and lyrically Lupe brings a different vibe than Food and Liquor, and to be honest, you could pick between those two for the no. 1 spot and either option is perfect. Lupe has one of the best one-two punches in terms of debut and sophomore projects. The Cool is a classic.

Top 3 Songs 
"Fighters"
"The Coolest"
"Paris, Tokyo"

1. Food & Liquor (2006)



-The debut from Lupe is the best. The closest thing to it is The Cool and honestly, the main thing which got Food & Liquor here over that album is cohesion. Lyrically, Lupe is at his strongest on this album, as he showcases storytelling ability over an amazing collection of production from top notch names like Kanye West, The Neptunes, Needlz, Prolyfic, Mike Shinoda, Soundtrakk, and others. The sound of this album is virtually flawless, as Lupe picks nothing but the best production on this album (production choices would be an issue to me during most of his later albums). The guest features on the album include Jay-Z (who is also an executive producer on the album) on the top tier track "Pressure", Jill Scott on the single "Daydreamin", as well as Gemini and Sarah Green on multiple tracks. Overall, this is as close to a flawless album that I think Lupe can get to, and although he was given the stigma of the "skateboard" rapper with "Kick, Push" the album was so much more than that. When we talk Lupe Fiasco albums, the conversation has to start and revolve around Food and Liquor. It is the most important part of the Lupe Fiasco journey. Period.  

Top 3 Songs 
"Daydreamin"
"American Terrorist"
"Hurt Me Soul"

-True 

2 comments:

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  2. I don't know how I feel about your judgement on Food and Liquor 2.
    My list is:
    1. The Cool
    2. Food and Liquor
    3. Tetsuo and Youth
    4. Food and Liquor 2
    5. Lazers
    6. Drogas

    The Cool is untouchable in my opinion. Simply the greatest album I've ever heard.

    Food and Liquor had some questionable songs that could be taken off but overall a great album.

    Tetsuo and Youth was amazing and I needed that to refresh me on Lupe's lyricism.

    Food and Liquor 2 had some crazy songs on there that I play all the time. I didn't really like some of the pillow talk love songs like 'Heart Donor' which sounded kinda corny to me. Other than that the album was solid.

    Lasers really spoke to me but some of the songs were extremely corny or boring. Way to many love songs on there but I liked 'Out of My Head', 'Just Might Be Okay', and 'Words I Never Said' which really made me understand Lupe more. (I loved Words I Never Said as a pondering song)

    Drogas when I first heard it sounded like hot trash. I agree this was the worst product he has produced. Ty Dolla Sign and 'NGL' made my head hurt. I liked 'Dopamine Lit' for some odd reason and 'Promise' was decent.

    I like real conscious thinking rap and thats why some lupe albums are higher. (Sidenote: The Cool introduced me to "The Gemstones" who has crazy bars.)

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