Chi-town lyricist extraordinaire Lupe Fiasco thrilled us with two solid singles "AUTOBOTO" and "DRILL MUSIC IN ZION", a while ago and now he returns with his long-awaited eighth studio album DRILL MUSIC IN ZION. The title is a juxtaposition of the violent hip-hop sub-genre with the Biblical promised land, alluding to the concept of art derived from pain but on another note, Lupe thinks deeply and surmises if the end result is worth the pain at all?
Lupe crafted the new album over a short period, diving into a folder of beats sent by Soundtrakk and emerging with a fully-realized album in just three days, which is highly remarkable for a dense project such as this.
The project is a return to form as he brings back his sister Ayesha Jaco, a poet who featured on the intros to his debut Food and Liquor and The Cool respectively. She singlehandedly sets the tone on "THE LION’S DEEN" with a vivid account of modern life compared with the changing lifestyle. She runs through some historical events affecting black folks as well and ends the performance with these lines, "Band together to reverse the weather to unite the seeds of the oppressed/Stand together and work righteously to be blessed/For generations to come/Drill down, Zion is in you," containing hope amidst the darkness.
The first cut is the somber "GHOTI" which is less than 2 minutes in length. Here, Lupe talks about a myriad of things from nihilism, and corporations pimping the masses to human idiosyncrasies. This is followed by the single "AUTOBOTO," a mischievous, playful, and deceptively dense single that finds Lupe weaving his precise barbs around Soundtrakk's arpeggiating guitars and a soothing airy melodic performance by singer Nayirah closes it out.
"PRECIOUS THINGS" is a soulful, reflective tune featuring singer Nayirah who sets the tone with her angelic melodic runs while Lupe details how the things and people he loved and revered lost their appeal and in a tragic turn of events, he has to take a stand against these things. In "KIOSK", he raps from the viewpoint of a kiosk owner peddling jewelry to anyone interested. It's quite an engaging piece that goes deeper than just selling ice to wanna-be rappers and gangsters as he even touches on the domino effect of having these expensive things around.
From the possibility of getting robbed, being mocked by blogs and naysayers to attracting feds who might want to stick a case on you, Lupe takes listeners deep into the action with lines like "The diamond sometimes are suedes while putting 'em to the blade
I have hesitations/There, I've put it all on the table, I have my reservations/Besides, we'll find something else useless to put our faith in/You won't finish this here, we'll pick up after meditation"
"MS. MURAL" starts off the second half of the album and it's a continuation of his "MURAL" series as the title suggests, it's Lupe crafting verbal pictures using painting references and such over Soundtrakk's jazzy soundscape. This is followed by the jazz-hop aesthetics of "NAOMI" which juxtaposes religious elements, and political views with poignant emotional resonance. It's both reflective and thought-provoking and in the usual Lupe manner, he ends it with a clever Malcolm X rhyme scheme that pulls from Star Wars, Microsoft's popular home console among other subtle things.
The title track and "SEATTLE" are next in line. The former is a graphic detail of the numerous forms of escapism, personal greed, and the insatiable need for profit while the latter is Lupe's ode to the streets where he has to move in mysterious ways to avoid a host of evils that lie in wait for his soul. He is once again joined by singer Nayirah who adds a soothing melodic touch to the track with her airy vocals.
The project closes with "ON FAUX NEM," Lupe starts off with an observation "Rappers die too much, that's it, that's the verse," ultimately becoming the first rapper with a 1 bar verse in hip-hop. The matter doesn't end there as he continues with a detailed narrative of gang-related violence in inner cities, the hypocritical view of it all as he admits that he is not essentially a saint.
In a nutshell, Lupe summarises his approach to the album as follows ""I’m trying to find a balance between the whimsy and the profound". With DRILL MUSIC IN ZION, Lupe starts another chapter in his illustrious career, but he's not done growing.
DRILL MUSIC IN ZION is available on all DSPs here.
Check out full details about "LFT" at Henka.io.