Something so appealing, you can’t fight the feeling

I love how unpredictable hip-hop is. It constantly smashes my expectations (good and bad) and makes me reevaluate everything. A month ago, I was feeling like it might just be a wrap for rap. Within the space of a couple weeks, things have shifted, and I’m feeling damn near hopeful again. [1] And Lupe Fiasco is a big part of that. Food & Liquor, which dropped this week, is a remarkable album.

To begin with, the production is spectacular. The soundscape is vast and expansive and evocative. And Lupe’s delivery is casual and effortless; his wordplay is clever and engaging. But Food & Liquor’s brilliance is bigger than aesthetics.

Lupe is simultaneously both too ordinary and too extraordinary for the current hip-hop climate. On the one hand, dude is about as average it gets. There’s no drama to his backstory. He hasn’t been shot. He hasn’t gone to jail. He doesn’t have a drug problem. He’s not a playboy. He doesn’t beef (or if he does, he turns around and apologizes). He doesn’t hustle. Instead, he skateboards and listens to jazz and writes a blog. Lyrically, his music concerns itself with subjects most people can relate to: family, friends, the insane world we live in, who we love and don’t love, the things that hurt us, the person we are trying to be, the life we are trying to build.

And yet, Lupe comes at a time when the market is so thugged out and hyper-masculine that something as simple as sporting flip-flops can make a rapper appear soft—let alone taking emotional risks. And Lupe takes big risks. Lupe may rhyme about day-to-day life, but his observations are often deeply personal. His debut chronicles his own growth—the slow and arduous process of trying to become a better man. It’s a rich, fulfilling smorgasbord of a meal that serves up sadness and joy, hope and frustration, morality and hypocrisy, connection and loneliness. And it makes a lot of other hip-hop look like fast food in comparison.

As such, Food & Liquor manages—without ever being even remotely didactic—to redefine what hip-hop is, and what it should be. It works because it’s a critique born of love, not hate. It’s utterly disarming.

Thing is, we’re so used to not having nothing real, that we don’t know how to act, we don’t know how to feel. So I’m not convinced that Lupe will get the reception he deserves. I’m going to suggest that we all go out and cop Food & Liquor, so that Lupe can do his numbers and the industry can see that people are hungry for hip-hop that has heart. [2] I’m going to buy it, anyway.

_______________________________________________________________________

[1] Now, if I can just get a Kingdom Come, a Hip-Hop is Dead, and a Hell Hath No Fury, I’ll be over the moon.

[2] I’m not the first to say this, of course. Shout out to Eskay.

  • http://myspace.com/starchild10 $tarchild

    Food and Liquor is easily on my top 10 favorite albums of all times…

  • http://myspace.com/starchild10 $tarchild

    yeah..FIRST!!

  • DocZeus

    Jesus, Tara, didn’t you know hip hop is not supposed to be smart. Ignorance is soooooo hip hop.

  • Belize

    >I’m going to suggest that we all go out and cop Food & Liquor>

    ^Iv been to the music store and picked up lupes’ album twice but that fukin album cover is holdin me back (lil ceaseish)….ill try and see if i can overcome my fear one more time…

    By the way i never listened to “jedi mind tricks” before but that album is by far the best shyt i heard this quarter-listen to it tara

  • http://www.allhiphop.com Rey

    And I just can’t fight this feeling anymoooorree.. something something started looking foooorrrrrr…Sorry, but you started it!

    Anyway, I’m gon’ “cop” F&L the nano-second I get outta work, and I’m really hoping it’s good. I might pick up rhymefest’s album & Kweli’s “Right Now” cuz I’ve been listening to “Get By” over & over today, and I’ve definitely got my backpack on right now.

    I like reading you & Noz cuz you guys aren’t jaded (bol), pandering to 80s babies (sick), fuckin’ bonkers (exo), beauty-shop gossippy (fresh), or scared to drop a real blog (splinter nigga wilson).. You two write about rap from the heart, and it’s appreciated.

    Be on the lookout for a friend request! (I promise I won’t just bombard you with requests for Maxim-style pics)

    UNO!

  • http://www.allhiphop.com Rey

    lol @ Beli.. That cover really is Teh Ghey.

    Gayest Album Cover of All Time? Tie between “Confessions of Fire” & “The Massacre”. Both covers scream “gay porn”. (no Bol’s high school wrestling career)

  • Belize

    ^Naw Lil Cease still gets the cake, the sad this is my friend played his cd when it came out and i though it was nails..but i still (up to this day) cant buy a niggaz album if they naked on it (and smiling about it too)

  • thoreauly77

    not didactic at all is an excellent point — i am a fan of “conscious” rap, but sometimes it is tiresome being told HOW to think. a good teacher doesnt tell one to think like them, a good teacher teaches one to think for themselves and formulate their own personal viewpoint. lupe provides nourishment in a quality starved industry. nice post tara.

  • Belize

    Co-Sign Rey on Tara and NOZ..but i like fresh*-if u notice every writer on this site has there own field..and fres is like the female illseed to me (just alil less politaclly correct)

    *plus she’s my babymomz

  • Belize

    ^sorry for the grammer..but i aint gettin paid to spell check

  • thoreauly77

    interesting… is this a response to byron’s thrashing of the lupe review on his own site?

  • Mikey Ess AKA SukedowN

    Safe to say, Lupe’s formula is different. He combines one part hipster, one part modern art, one part semi-clever lyricism, and two parts major label.

    However, but I don’t buy in to the it’s spectacular because it’s different theory.

    Certainly his album is a cut above 80% of other albums released this year, but as we know that isn’t saying much.

    However, I guess if you eat at McDonalds long enough, Boston Market will seem like a 5-star restaurant.

  • http://www.allhiphop.com Rey

    Thor–That was Akuma’s weed-carrying ass (nullus) doing the review. In the comments section of one of Bol’s posts he gave F&L a 7/10.

    Beli–I like illseed. Fresh is a bit too “comicview” for my tastes. I’m sure your child is adorable tho’. (nullus2)

  • The Historian

    It’s good to see that there are fans who recognize good Hip Hop when they hear it. I’m also looking forward to Kingdom Come, Hip Hop is Dead and Hell Hath No Fury but dont forget Eardrum and Tru3 Magic. Keep holding it down for Hip Hop.

  • http://www.xxlmag.com shawn

    lupe’s album was the worst 5 bucks i ever spent for a burnt disc. if anyone drives down I-45 south in h-town, that album is on the side of the road somewhere…..

    toilet…shit….flush!!!!

  • thoreauly77

    shawn, you spent 5 dollars for a BURNT disc? just skip the purchase of the next 60 of those and get a dell, dude.

  • tHe tRaNsIeNt

    lmao @ rey tryna mack tara on myspace

    i already bought dat lupe..i dont mean 2 be da obligatory sour-puss but there wus mad songs on da leak dat should’ve been on there and it just aint as good as it coulda been had it not leaked months ago

    really sux dat bangers like “spazz out”, “tilted” and “ghetto story” aint on da cd and dat new version of “trials and tribulations” aka “pressure” has a terrible hook

    it’ll do fo now tho

  • http://yahoo.com jordany

    To me Food & Liquor is one of the best albums since The Blueprint, the lyrics and the flow are on point as well as the production but, more importantly the subject matter is very much needed in rap right now. I hope this album goes multi-platinum and gets the recognition it deserves. Now i’m just waiting on Saigon’s The Greatest Story Never Told which should be better than Food & Liquor or at least just as good. Oh and, i’m also waiting on the G.O.A.T.’s Kingdom Come.

  • FABO VILLAKNOCKOFF

    More points lost for tara.

    lupe fiasco isnt the savior of hip hop. Hes just marketed to blogger dorks and hipster kids, and yall are buying it hook line and sinker.

  • http://www.allhiphop.com Rey

    Missed you too, 14 year old girl.

  • tHe tRaNsIeNt

    “failure” and “make sure” 2

  • http://www.allhiphop.com Rey

    (you’ll have to check out dallaspenn’s post on here today to get that one)

  • Fernando

    looks like all the degenerates found a new playground for the day. Is it just me, or does Tara sound like she wants Lupe’s “sensitive-artistic” dick???? Ill never buy Food & Liquor. Not because of the ghey cover, or the fact that Kanye’s camp is a hip-hop metro-sex festival. BUT BECAUSE I CAN DOWNLOAD IT FOR FREE AND SPARE MYSELF THE PAIN TWO MONTHS LATER WHEN I GET TIRED OF IT.

  • The Historian

    Its not about buying into the marketing. The music speaks for itself. Listen and maybe you will understand.

  • tHe tRaNsIeNt

    yea..i like lupe and all but dis HERE COMES A THOUGHTFUL SKATEBOARDING NEGRO IN BAPE WHO ISNT A THUG TO SAVE HIP HOP !!!!! hyperbole is annoyng

    especially since lupe wus basically a cam/clipse clone rhymin’ about coke and shotin’ out dem chi-town gangs 3 or 4 years ago

  • Fernando

    Rey-

    You know NY hip-hop sucks. It really does. Im not biased at all. I used to love that shit. But c’mon, the crap that city produces is a joke. Its almost like they found the worst artists and gave them huge deals and then let great artists slip into the unknown. Please try and tell me about 1 good NY hip-hop album this year. (Bad Boy artists dont count)

  • The Historian

    Kanyes camp gave us BE and Get Lifted and yet u focus on the way they dress. Look no further for whats wrong with Hip Hop.

  • http://www.allhiphop.com Rey

    lol @ Transi..

    C’mon Transi, rappers switch gimmicks like wrestlers do.

  • Fernando

    After two weeks, most of y’all are gonna kick-push this CD right out of your car. Lupe is OK, he cant save shit.

    Brent Musberger

  • tHe tRaNsIeNt

    trillsient 4 life

  • Fernando

    You want us to be thankful for BE??????????? That album is good. Thats it…just GOOD. I havnt listened to that shit for months and dont really feel the need. Get Lifted has to be some hippie-granola rap, cause I know they aint talkin about herb. Probably some higher consciousness type shit. Kill me if I ever start to look at hip-hop for spiritual guidance.

    Lee Corso

  • http://www.allhiphop.com Rey

    Fern.. I agree with you that this has been the worst year for NY area hip-hop since, well, last year.

    My point was that the Kings of the NY game–whose talent is still far more vast (even in admitted decline) than the majority of the “relevant” artists from other areas–are getting shat on left and right like they don’t matter, and their contributions weren’t important.

    It’s like some new jabroni wrestler coming in talking about how Hulk Hogan doesn’t matter anymore and how he should step aside, even tho’ the people still love The Hulkster way more than they’d ever love the new guy.

    I’m not trying to hate (that comes naturally) or get into a pissing contest, that’s just my opinion.

    (no homo…just in case)

  • http://www.allhiphop.com Rey

    “Be” was good, but it doesn’t have the replay value of College Dropout or Late Registration. (spare me the kanye stan stuff, transi)

    Mark Chmura

  • Belize

    Yeah thinkin bout it now BE is overrated…

  • soopadoopa

    If its all the same shit that got leaked months ago i aint buying it!

    100

  • The Historian

    I’m not talking about looking to Hip Hop for spiritual guidance. Im just talking about good music. And get lifted wasn’t rap. It was John Legend.

  • Fernando

    Exactly….

    Every NY artist I liked got dropped, signed with a camp that has shitty production, or just got weak (Busta Bust)

    Times are so desperate that all the big NY labels are signing out-of-towners. (I.E Bad Boy with 8ball & Mjg, Def Jam with The Roots)

  • Meka Soul

    i was actually surprised by food & liquor. when i gaffled a copy of the early release from the friendly neighborhood rapiduploadspace, some of the [albeit unfinished] songs did not appeal to me ["ghetto story a/k/a steady mobbin'" = nails]. i’ve never been excited to listen to an album [which is why the last one i actually purchased legally was common's be. my copy of the minstrel show was given to me for free to review during my previous life as a freelance journalist], yet f & l has stayed on repeat in my ipod for the past couple days.

    now if the hugo chavezes at ji[g]ve records release hell hath no fury in a timely manner, i’d be happy.

  • tHe tRaNsIeNt

    i like kanye..it’z jus funny how rey be all on his dick fo bein’ “different”

  • tHe tRaNsIeNt

    beanie does ny rap betta den any current ny rapper

    altho az be killin’ it currently

  • Fernando

    Oh God, John Legend fan in the house crying about how we pick on Kanye’s ghey man-purse wearin style. WERE JUST ORDINARY PEOPLE!! I liked the abusive Asian dad in that video..lol Part of being a rapper is their whole steez. And since Kanye isnt a good enough lyricist, he doesnt get a pass on the bell-bottom jeans, Michael Jackson gloves, cardigan sweaters, penny loafers, ascots, and all other ghey british shit he sweats.

    Dan Dierdorf

  • Meka Soul

    ummm… ivan drago.

  • Fernando

    Isnt Beenie from Philly????
    AZ has been droppin some heat…but does he have any other solid albums besides “Doe or Die”??????

  • The Historian

    I don care if u dont like the way he dresses, I don’t either. All Im sayin is that ur focusing just on that and not enough on the music.

  • http://www.allhiphop.com Rey

    Transi–

    Beans is dope. No argument there.

    The main difference about Kanye is that he includes the conflict (or hypocrisy-sp-however you prefer to look at it) over wanting to shine while still being taken seriously(this is grammatically fucked up, i know) as an artist and a person in his raps, whereas the majority of other artists only include the Flashy side.

    Also, Lil’ Wayne is fucking terrible, and your mom needs to stop using teeth when she’s giving me Paris Hilton, otherwise I’m not gonna pay the full price.

  • http://www.allhiphop.com Rey

    John Matuzak (aka “Sloth”)

  • Meka Soul

    an individual’s style of dress & questionable sexuality shouldn’t get in the way of whether or not they release good music [no malcolm in the middle].

    that said:

    get lifted >college dropout > be.

    no chiristopher walken in the stepford wives.

  • The Historian

    “an individual’s style of dress & questionable sexuality shouldn’t get in the way of whether or not they release good music ”
    That’s exactly what I mean. If u cant get over the way Kanye dresses though just wait for EarDrum. Talib Kweli is a great lyricist and u cant complain about the way he dresses. That is easily goin to be one of the top 5 albums of the year.

  • Fernando

    Exactly..”A GREAT LYRICIST”

    Kanye is a MEDIOCRE lyricist at BEST. Therefore, I wont tolerate metrosexuality becomming the next “baggy jeans”

    I was fine with Andre 3000 dressing like a fruit until he started doing shitty jazz music about cupid and all sorts of ghey shit. Talib could dress like a bum and he would still be dope. kanye Dresses like a fag, and he doesn’t rap very well either.

  • Fernando

    You are all liars. I for one, cant beat joints while listening to R Kelly anymore. Peeing on 14 yr olds kind of ruined it. Same goes for Michael Jackson. PYT took on a whole new meaning now that we know he is a fruit-bag

  • http://www.yahoo.com CHICAGORILLA

    What’s good world. I just copped that Lupe three days ago. I’ve listened to every song and frankly I’m not disappointed. When I first heard kick push I knew he was hot. He’s like the only rapper out here welling to take risk with his music. The album is straigh “piff”. This is the hottest album of 06. In my personal opion he’s better than Kanye. Hopefully this album does have a god week. Matter of fact, a good year. He diserves it.

  • http://rockthedub.blogspot.com khal

    what? his lp redefines what hip-hop is… maybe i should listen/review this…

  • DUB SEA

    What the fuck happened to Hip Hop though?…There was a time when releases like this were a half a dozen a month…Now you gotta dig deep to the underground (Edan, Jedi Mind Tricks) or far abroad (Akala, Roots Manuva) to here something creative and progressive.

  • Fernando

    KANYE IS NOT A DOPE RAPPER!! HE ADMITTED SO HIMSELF. Damnit, his shit is so basic

  • e

    I for one, cant beat joints while listening to R Kelly anymore. Peeing on 14 yr olds kind of ruined it.
    ^^^^
    Thats where I gained respect for him(no john legened)

    Lupe is a dope rapper but at times he can get really boring much like Common and Talib.

    AZ and Ghostface are the only good New York rappers now but no one buys their albums. A.W.O.L > Fishscale > Be

  • The Historian

    Ur forgetin papoose and jae millz.

  • e

    Nah they haven’t Papoose and Millz haven’t released albums just mixtapes(i think). They have talent but so does JR Writer

  • Fernando

    Ghost is still tight. I forgot about him

  • UnFaded Disciple

    Lupe Fiasco’s album is fire. Though, the leak version was much better IMO.

  • allnice

    Nah, son’s album is disappointing. He had a few good songs like I Gotcha and Kick Push, but the rest of the album is ver lackluster. People just want the next hip hop savior and will sweat anyone who says a few metaphors.

  • Tray

    The production is spectacular??

  • lol

    which houston rapper/mogul is speading nasty STD’s.
    Get onto it Ms T. Henley. Get this chcaracter to stop spreading that shit around…..selfish punk mofo, tsk

  • john cochran

    EVERY BODY FROM NY SUCKS RIGHT NOW!!Alot of yall have a hard time admitting that. c’mon, jea millz has flow but has never really written a SONG and pap has all flow and no style. AZ and Ghost are from the previous generation so they dont count, although they are both dope. NY will get their turn agian sooner or later. And stop tryin’ to claim beans cause he from Phily (stand up)

  • XRAY3000

    ..sorry miss henley but its lookin like we gonna have to wait a lil while longer for that ‘hell hath no fury’..*them crackas aint playin fair* lol..

  • Black London….

    THIS GOES OUT TO ALL YOU HATERS:

    Atlantic rising hip-hop star Lupe Fiasco is in with an impressive #7 debut selling 90k.

  • bob

    Chicago is starting to be known as a concious place rather than a place where niggas pull yo card. Kanye, Rhymefest, Lupe, The Com. Its like chicago is the average-rap capital or something. But i forget about twista, do or die, crucial conflict, shawnna, and boo and gotti.

  • http://xxlmag.com Juice Box

    Yo the MUSLIM BROTHER is on his rap DEAN, I love that he had some of those songs remade with new verses, Pressure being the main one, Lupe is the breathe of fresh air, matter of fact the last 3 joints to come out of chi town have been much needed for hip hop (Commons BE, Kanye Late registration, & Lupe’s Food & Liqour)

  • Eastside Bread Maker

    For all of you who may still be second guessing Lupe, you really must give him a shot. I remember about a month ago I got into an argument with someone for him telling me that Lupe is the nicest in the game. And although i still don’t think that he is the nicest, I will say without hesitation, that he has the best album that i have heard in a really long time. And thats based on just wat every likes about him and what Tara so eloquently stated, he way too ordinary and way too extraordinary at the same time. Simple lines and bars and metaphores, yet at the same time thought provoking and insightful lyrics fill the album.

    Now from the stuff that was leaked and his prior mixtapes, i’ve heard about 2 songs, which was probably why i wasnt impressed in the beginning, but make no mistake, his album has been played in my ipod, cd player and car all week.

    And to top it off, my pregnant girlfriend says that my soon to be born son kicks the most in her stomach whenever kick push or I gotcha comes on as opposed to any other song in her ipod. Coincidence… I think not!

  • Eastside Bread Maker

    you’ll do know that i am trying to groom the next great rapper right. All he listens to in the belly is straight classics.

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  • http://aramhiphopetc.blogspot.com/ I Fux

    I got the Fest album he should have released the ODB track as a single, video, that would have been a good look its my favorite track on Blue Collar

  • http://www.myspace.com/16kingz thebestout!!

    LUPE FIASCO: COOL LIL’ NERDY NIGGA WIT’ A ALRIGHT BUT DIFFRENT ALBUM

    KANYE WEST: WHACK ASS FAGGOT LOVER WIT’ MEDIOCRE BEATS AND A GAY FOWOLLIN’

    RHYMEFES: UGLIEST NIGGA THIS SIDE OF DEBO!!BUT ONE OF THE MOST UNDERRATED LYRICISIT.

    COMMON: ENUFF SAID.

    CAP1 THE DON: YEAH BABY THIS THE HOTTEST NIGGA OUTT CHI-TOWN FUCK ALL DAT’ KICK PUSH SHIT THIS NIGGA BE ON HOVI STATUS WIT’ DAT’ FLOW MAN IT’S BASICALLY ALL DA’ CHI GOT TO SHOW FOR THEMSELVES!!!!

  • Dude

    You dumb fucks need to grow up and stop calling the cover gay. It’s no gayer than Pharrel’s psudeo-anime mecha cover.

    Did Lupe have his shirt off on the cover? No.

    Just shut the hell up.

  • Joab “The Millennium Photographer”

    For those of you that doubt Common’s “Be” for its critical acclaim I’m going to name a single track off of the album that will answer all questions – “Its Your World” and while I’m at it “Faithful”, “Be (The Intro)”, and “Real People”! Hip Hop music is still alive its just that it isn’t getting its proper recognition from the mainstream…

    Its said to say but most brothers and sisters don’t like to pick up a book and read, so how can you expect them to pick up and thoughtfully digest a Common or Lupe Fiasco album???? They would rather it fed through a tube, along with street tales, and club records like a Jay or Nas Lp!

  • 110 street

    The be album is still my favorits album in the last 2 years never the less nas was going threw losing his mom on street deciple and i have yet to get lupe a chance cant say its hate somtimes he sounds cross bread between himself and 2 other artist but i will give it a listen, always give a chance never never pre judge. Harlemm..

  • http://www.myspace.com/sirjantzversatile Sir Jantz

    I agree. Food & Liquor is a classic album. Everything from the song featuring Jill Scoot to this song called the Instrumental where he talks about the box. “The Cool” is remarkable.I can tell he took his time with this album. He built a big enough buzz and ever had his album leaked twice. I think there is gonna be a lof more in store for this cat. I now truly believe that hip-hop is not dead!!

  • http://aramhiphopetc.blogspot.com/2006_09_01_aramhiphopetc_archive.html I Fux

    ya I like F&L its a good album, but do The Clipse get a pass on Trap Rap because they are dope(no pun intended) storytellers, I would have to say yes

    Rae Carruth, Nate Newton

  • Enlightened

    The Historian Says:

    September 22nd, 2006 at 2:39 pm
    I don care if u dont like the way he dresses, I don’t either. All Im sayin is that ur focusing just on that and not enough on the music.

    Historian, I feel what you’re trying to say. It SHOULD be true – in principle. BUT HIP-HOP is the only music where it matters. Basically I always say, 99% of hip-hop fans ARE NOT GOING TO BUY A RAPPER’S CD IF THEY COULDN’T SEE THEMSELVES KICKIN IT WITH THEM.
    If you can’t see yourself dranking, smoking, playing cards, ridin with, going to the club with, or whatever you do with a rapper, you most likely won’t bump him.
    We all felt like Sisqo was gay but it didn’t matter if you like Dru Hill’s music. HIP-HOP IS NOT LIKE THAT AND KANYE SEEMS REAL GAY. That’s what people mean by talking about how he dress.
    Would you walk in the club with your homeboy if he’s dressed like that?

  • rat worship

    i hate it when people say shit like ‘soundscape’

  • T.R.A.E.

    U kno what u are my favorite blogger on here u always come wit da realness I couldn’t agree wit u more Lupe’s album is a pure example of right place wrong time da industry has such an obsession wit southern fried d-boy rap dat dey refuse to push concepts beyond da trap anymore I haven’t heard Kick Push on da radio at all but I’ve been bogged down wit Poppin my collar n What U Know dat even doe dey good records I just get tired of listenin I too feel da need fa sumthin real