Yeah. Go Ahead and Listen to That New Lupe Fiasco Album

todayJuly 1, 2024 5

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If Lupe Fiasco isn’t the king of esoteric wordplay, he’s something close to it. Dating back to the early aughts, he’s used instrumentals to distill riddles that are as sprawling as his imagination, and in the process, become one of the most acclaimed spitters ever. He adds to his reputation with Samurai, a meditative new LP coated in layer upon layer of metaphors most people will never decipher.

Checking in at a svelte eight tracks, the album is entirely produced by Lu’s longtime collaborator Soundtrakk, who supplies the whole thing with lo-fi jazz rap soundscapes; the beats here would make Nujabes proud. Tracks like “No. 1 Headband” would be a suitable opening for the Samurai Champloo intro, “Way of the Samurai.” The track itself is subtly anthemic, and the bars are ornate, yet functional — think about the Black Mamba cutting down members of the Crazy 88.

Lupe can be playful on Samurai, but, like always, he can get super poignant, too. Just see “Palaces.” For the track, he reflects on the heavy toll of celebrity, using a cool cosmic metaphor to sum up the consequences of media scrutiny and the idea that, through resilience, a “star” can still redeem themselves to shine brighter than ever:

“Being anonymous don’t grant you some dark / Even astronomers keep a camera on Mars / Satellites attract where you are / And see your blackest night, attack it with sparks / Fireworks are not a match for a star / And fire hurts, burns, blackens, and scars / Can still emerge learned, attractive, and sharp / From out the ashes of galactic barrage.”

Thoughtful, quirky and as technically sharp as rap ever really gets, “No. 1 Headband” and “Palaces” are quintessential Lupe. As a whole, the album is all as artful as it is efficient — like the swordsmanship of a true Samurai.

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Written by: jarvis

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