Lupe Fiasco Still Refuses To Dumb It Down With A New LP That’s Deeper Than Rap (Video)
Lupe Fiasco released his DROGAS WAVE album on Friday (September 21). Due to leaks, the long-awaited project dropped a week earlier than intended. Already it is impressing quite a few of those that have encountered the 1st & 15th release. Featuring the likes of Damian Marley, Nikki Jean, Crystal Torres, Elena Pinderhughes, Simon Sayz, and Bishop Edgar Jackson, the Chicago MC’s seventh LP adds to a respected catalog which includes #1 albums and gold plaques. In the latest episode of TBD, Justin “The Company Man” Hunte makes a case for DROGAS WAVE as a resonant return to form for one of his favorite Hip-Hop artists. He also shows how Lupe remains committed to making an album that refuses to “dumb it down.”
“It’s wild because I don’t think we’ve really seen the musical possibilities of an unbridled Lupe Fiasco. Most of the time we’ve known him, he’s been drowning on the business side of the music industry, sincerely,” Hunte muses, referring to Lu’s former and complicated relationship with Atlantic Records. “What other artist has ever needed a fan protest to secure the release of one project and Anonymous, [the] Internet’s Batman, to secure the release of another? In that sense, DROGAS WAVE isn’t only a fresh listen contextually or conceptually, but for Fiasco himself.” Additionally, Hunte claims that Fiasco’s unconventionality is what makes DROGAS WAVE a standout both among other comparable albums in 2018 and previous releases within his extensive catalog.
However, just like 2006’s famed Food & Liquor and Lu’s heralded ’07 follow-up, The Cool, the new release is built around a concept. “It’s about a group of slaves on a slave ship on their way to Africa to the West Indies and they are thrown off the boat. But they didn’t die. They stayed alive and they lived under the sea,” the artist told Billboard‘s Eric Diep in April. Hunte unpacks this concept with clips from the LP. “And they dedicated their lives to sinking slave ships — so they became this super, underwater force against slavery. It’s like a super-deep story that I am building on different fronts. But that’s the main idea and the source material for the album.” A report by Complex last week quoted Lu as saying, “‘Drogas’ is the Spanish word for drugs. I made it an acronym which stands for ‘Don’t Ruin Us God Said.'”
“It’s been over 12 years since he’s been free and it does take a lot of work to decipher the who’s and what’s or why’s of what’s going down on this project,” The Company Man notes. “There’s nothing like this in the marketplace, and it’s absolutely unconventional. But Lupe Fiasco’s been unconventional both on and off .WAV files since we met him, his entire career. Why wouldn’t he even be more so now that he’s finally unshackled?”
During the closing thoughts segment of Hunte’s TBD focusing on DROGAS WAVE, he attempts to place Lupe’s latest among his catalog. While not being able to explicitly rank it, the host could not definitively rule out that it wasn’t Fiasco’s best to date. “I’m not sure if this might be his best project ever, but it’s in that conversation, and his catalog is so tight,” he said. “Now you’ve got four projects you really got to take a look at historically in comparison to the rest of Hip-Hop. [That is] not an easy thing to do.”
On a related note, last month, the MC publicly stated that beginning next year, he will “no longer support or engage with gratuitously senseless and or purposeless [and] excessively violent music, TV, cartoons, content and films.” When he was asked to clarify by a myriad of people who wanted to know what he meant, Lupe says that both peace and violence can be a means to the end of each. “The opposite of violence is giving assistance, being helpful or building something,” he wrote in a separate Instagram post. “It is an action. Peace is a sense of a state of static being. One can be peacefully violent as one can be violently helpful. Actual Violence has a purpose, but most depictions of violence in our modern consumptive condition have no purpose.”