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Tetsuo & Youth is one of the greatest rap albums of this decade. If you don’t agree, you’re either a Lupe hater or a radio rap fanatic. Assumptions aside, Lupe Fiasco’s talents as an artist manifested beautifully on that album as he broke away from his preachy tendencies and instead spoke on what he believes to be true to his existence and the society around him. The mysterious hacktivist group Anonymous somehow got their hands on the 2015 masterpiece while its release was still being postponed by Lupe’s record label. I’m not exactly sure how they did it, but the collective found a way to convince the label that Tetsuo & Youth’s distribution was a public necessity. I’m happy they did. Both Lupe and his fans needed a return to form following the politically pushy Food & Liquor II. Since such a heavily conceptualized album like Tetsuo & Youth can take a lot out of an artist mentally, I expected DROGAS Light to take a somewhat toned down approach. However, I did not foresee this album being so bland to the point where it didn’t even feel like a Lupe Fiasco project.

Lupe has noted that this project was meant to be a more fun, worry-free release. Most of these tracks are “from the vaults” with a couple newly recorded songs thrown in. No matter the intent here, this album puts me to sleep. I don’t fully grasp why artists do this to their legacy. Lupe Fiasco is one of rap’s most intelligent, articulate, and inspiring artists. Why is releasing an album like this worth his time? His fans have made it clear in the past that they generally do not want to hear watered down, pop-friendly hogwash from him. But on DROGAS Light, that is precisely what they are receiving from Lupe. If this album is meant to be a “refinement” of his 2011 mixed bag, Lasers, then why does it sound like such a regression of it instead? At least Lasers had a few hit songs on it. DROGAS Light has no such resilience. This album feels like a money-grabbing attempt without anything worth selling or even talking about, to be honest. If an artist is going to lazily compose an album with outdated pop-rap and follow-the-leader trap tracks then it should be free of cost in my opinion.

This album is not the worst thing I’ve ever heard by any means. There is some nice hard-hitting production here. And, at times, Lupe taps into his insight. But surrounded by so many basic tracks, the lyrical depth feels forced. The only truly compelling cut I found comes five songs into the track list. “Jump” is a cleverly constructed storytelling piece of a space trapper intimidating Lupe to write raps and pick beats for her so she can stack some more paper to get out of the crack game. I actually loved this track. But I’m afraid it was more of a relative enjoyment than a genuine one. Compared to the rest of these run-of-the-mill, average-at-best efforts, “Jump,” “More Than My Heart,” and “Kill” are the only ones that Lupe seemed to put some thought into. This type of rhetoric is not what I ever expect or want to say about Lupe Fiasco, but the proof is in the pudding. To me, Lupe is the kind of artist who if he pleases his stans he will find the most success. Who, at this point in his career, is out there begging for more conscience-numbing, top-40 style rap from Lupe Fiasco? I’ll wait…

 

 

Album Review: Lupe Fiasco - DROGAS Light
Occasionally Compelling StorytellingSome Hard-hitting ProductionN/A
Cookie-cutter Song CompositionLack of CohesionMinimal Artistic Personality
4.2NEGATIVE
Production5.5
Songwriting2
Substance5
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