Right out the gate let’s be clear that Lupe Fiasco is one of the most talented artists of the time period hands down, as he’s almost a throwback to the golden era yet he’s also been able to maintain relevance in a variety of different categories, including mainstream success as well as genuine respect as a true MC. For those that have a good memory we remember Lupe coming up under Kanye during the Late Registration era, while around that same time he was getting his 1st & 15th movement off the ground which would soon be met to critical acclaim.
Food & Liquor is a classic, the original leak as well as the official retail version, that body of work is honestly one of the best debut’s from a real spitter in recent memory. Lupe would soon follow that up with the far more eclectic The Cool, which true to it’s name was definitely good for the vibe and it was certainly filled with some moments. Then came Lasers, which despite some good content played like a desperate ploy for commercial sales, and sure enough Lupe managed to chart his most successful single of his career. Perhaps the writing had already been on the wall however, as Lupe had already drifted more towards commercial pop on his previous album, yet he had also managed to create a balance that seemed to soon be slipping away.
It had long been reported that Lupe hadn’t been on good terms with Atlantic for years, and it was by that third release that he was already publicly criticizing the creative approach that had went into the album. Sure enough that approach seemed to have a detrimental effect on his career, as even though his singles were off the charts his overall status as an artist hadn’t dramatically improved (in other words they knew the songs in the suburbs but they didn’t really know the emcee), and as a result his respect in Hip Hop was soon up in the air and left to question.
It should be noted however that the skills never diminished, and Lupe soon bounced back with a solid overall performance by way of his fourth album Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt 1, followed by the groundbreaking Tetsuo & Youth that was definitely the essence of Hip Hop in every way.
Fast forward to 2017 and Lupe Fiasco fans still have a lot to be excited about, as he’s officially off Atlantic and has just signed a new deal with Sony, in which he’s expected to release a trilogy of albums - the first of which was titled DROGAS light. As Lupe explained to his fans however, the 6th album was actually primarily composed of older vaulted material that never came out, thus this is moreso the prequel for what’s to come, and hopefully it’s worth the wait.
Nonetheless DROGAS light is critiqued track by track below, and perhaps as it intended it ultimately leaves us satisfied yet wanting more.
Dopamine Lit (Intro)
“Bae shake it in my lap like Jackie Joyner-Kersee havin seizures, Jesus, what's a nonbeliever to a preacher? this ain't the kind of rap the opps and the thots like, told Trak put the bat back on the spotlight” Lupe really does have a flow like no other, as it’s a distinct flow that’s really only specific to him, where you know it when you hear it and that’s always a testament to the skills of any artist. Meanwhile this is all about the fire production from Soundtrakk who has produced some of Lupe’s most memorable records to date.
Ngl ft Ty Dolla $ign
“If they legalize that whole thing, they doin' weed, next cocaine, ***** ain't gon' have no jobs, and Wall Street gon run the dope game, what a ***** gon do?.... Huh? … you ***** gon' lose” Produced by S-X Lupe annihilates this record completely… truth be told this is best record off the album and this one deserved a lot more attention than it got. Nonetheless it survives as one of his many hidden gems in his catalogue, complete with a message that Lupe delivers as good as any.
“Honest (yeah), I ran with the killers, the hustlers and gamblers (yeah), I'm telling you Sway that I do have the answers (yeah), just ask me a question, I'll give you the truth (yeah), I got me a Benzy, it ain't got a roof, I'm smart but I'm poor, yeah, I'm smart but I'm poor (yeah), I'm keepin my bars up, keepin my bars up (yeah), I try to do good 'cause I don't like the karma, but you never know so I bought me some armor” More fire production from Soundtrakk this one actually has an infectious melody in the hook, and overall it serves it’s purpose as a good album cut.
Made in the USA ft Bianca Sings
“Bad little bitch from Miami (bad little bitch, bad little bitch), came from Cuba but here with family (whoop, whoop, whoop), when I speak that English, she don't understand me (she don't understand me), so I speak that, speak that, speak that Spanish but my shit made in (mucho, mucho, mucho), Made in the U.S.A., made in the U.S.A, Made in the U.S.A., made in the U.S.A” Producer by StreetRunner this one is high energy and clever af… Lupe has always rapped with a global state of mind and a conscious view of America… and this is one of those type of records right here 🔥🔥🔥
Jump ft Gizzle
“Tell me call up Soundtrakk, have him send a couple beats, not that ‘Superstar’ shit, she wanted somethin' for the streets” As always Lupe is spittin on fire production from Soundtrakk, and although this isn’t one of the standouts they’re still a winning combination.
City of the Year ft Rondo
“I'm sorry white folks, if it sound I'm a little oppressed, and I'm sorry my *i****, but I think you the best, you don't need no Khaled, cause that's on me, valid, let me push my brother, we don't need no malice, ****** raised in the projects now they gon need a palace” Produced by B-Sides this one is similar to the Promise record where that hook can stay in your heads for days, and you’ve probably heard it as they’ve been playing snippets of it on ESPN for months.
High (Interlude) ft Simon Sayz
“It drops without, then without doubt I'm without drought, how else could a spit out bout, swat at bats, without outs?... Rain delay, what's that I came to say? Get it wet like Training Day” Lupe 🔥🔥🔥 (even though I do subscribe to “just cause you can’t understand him don’t mean that he nice") but that effortless delivery makes it all worth it, meanwhile this is all about the incredible production and feature from Simon Sayz… who seems to have only produced for Lupe who’s been smart to keep him close. This is a great record and undeniably one of the highlights off the album.
Tranquillo ft Rick Ross & Big K.R.I.T.
“I will pursue felicity, find value in simplicity, altruism and empathy will be the first thing extended to my enemy, clarity will be the trademark of my friendships, just invest in my business and appreciative of the rarity of my existence” The Boss on the track and it had apparently been anticipated for a long time… meanwhile K.R.I.T. does his numbers over the Floss & Flame production that ultimately ends up being a solid album cut no more no less.
Kill ft Ty Dolla $ign & Victoria Monet
“Saturday night for ******, astronauts and alcohol, we're like satellites for strippers, runnin round and round she go, we got dollar bills to kill…” On paper that Lupe/VictoriaMonet collaboration sounds like a match made in heaven, and they don’t disappoint yet it’s Ty Dolla who actually steals the show and makes the record complete - make sure you stay tuned to the outro tho - more 🔥🔥🔥 especially in meaning.
Law ft Simon Sayz
“Wanna put my name on it, but don’t wanna end the friendship, cause that’s a declaration, of independence, would you lie for it? would you die for it? put fireworks all inside of that sky for it?” This time Simon Says is on the hook and Foss & Flame handles the production, whereas the instrumental is indeed the best part of the record. Otherwise it debatably plays like filler and is an arguable skip.
Pick Up The Phone
“Now every ring's a sting and everythin I taught ya, is comin' back around to me, just like revolvers, and every single click is just hammerin it home, who knew Russian Roulette involved answerin the phone?” For the record I hate this style of record for Lupe, even though it’s the same exact style that made him Platinum more than once. Nonetheless the hook by Sebastian Lundberg is certainly not for me yet it doesn’t stop Lu from absolutely tearing the instrumental to shreds, provided by iSHi that was honestly too pop infused for my liking as well.
It’s Not Design ft Salim
“It's not designed to make you feel that way, now, baby (oh no), no, it's not designed to make you feel love…” Produced by B-Sides & Simon Sayz this one reminds me of Jamiroquai… except they don’t really pull it off… even still it’s a nice effort but a debatable skip.
Wild Child ft Jake Torrey
“Oh wow, you make me feel like a wild child…” This is another one that’s been playing on ESPN for a minute now, where even though the hook (and whole record) is rudimentary it’s still flames regardless 🔥🔥🔥 it’s simple but effective and Lupe got another one… good for the party good for the road trip and because it’s actually a good pop record. I’m all the way for it.
More Than My Heart ft Rxmn & Salim
“When you got popped up and you got locked up, and the block shot up and your girl knocked up, and your kids be like, ‘who gonna watch us?’ your mama, they nana” Produced by Soundtrakk the outro is one of the best records on the album, one that Lupe dedicated to his mother and it’s good Hip Hop in every way. Truth be told this should have been the anthem but then again that’s not what the media promotes, even though Lupe would rap circles around all these rap urkels, and that certainly includes you mumble rappers.
Ultimately by no surprise this was a better album than it was given credit for, but it likely had no chance as soon as it was pegged as a compilation of throwaways and leftovers. Nonetheless the timing of this record is interesting considering it’s apparently his first project for Sony, and one might wonder why he didn’t give Atlantic the back catalogue and came into a new deal fresh. Nonetheless Lupe has made himself clear by stating that this is only the prequel for the trilogy, thus the next album DROGAS will hopefully be the new and improved Lupe we’ve all been greatly anticipating.