Lupe Fiasco returns with his sixth album DROGAS Light, an effort which has its moments, but also falls short of his best work.
At one point, Lupe Fiasco was considered to be one of the hottest MCs. A socially-conscious rapper, he delivered incredibly meaningful rhymes. He’s maintained his social and political edge, but at times has deviated in favor of commercial fare (Lasers comes to mind). Following the success of Lasers, his popularity waned. His 2015 effort Tetsuo & Youth debuted modestly at no. 14, matching his previous career-low start (The Cool). The question is, can his new album, DROGAS Light, spike more interest in the talented rapper? The album itself is respectable, but not without its share of flaws.
Following an intro (“Dopamine Lit”), Lupe Fiasco follows up superbly with “NGL,” an acronym for n*ggas gon’ lose. He’s assisted by the ubiquitous Ty Dolla $ign, who proves to be a perfect fit given his distinct vocals. Lupe keeps it 100, rapping about numerous ways society – specifically black society – is falling short.
“Ayy, ayy, disproportionate convictions / Especially when it come to our case / You seen the movie, they killed the n*gga / Why you still wanna be like Scarface?”
“Made in the USA”
The redemption for Fiasco arrives on the stellar “Made in the USA,” featuring Bianca Sings. “Made in the USA” shouldn’t work – it too is out of character for the MC. Even so, the change of pace is effective here. This is good enough to turn up to, along with learning geography.
“All my heroes from Hollywood / Put Tony Montanas all in my hood / This rap shit came from New York City / My momma came from Mississippi.”
Gizzle guests on “Jump,” which keeps in step with pairing Lupe with turn-up beats. The production is top-notch (Soundtrakk), further building on the intensity established by “Made in the USA.” Even more than the song it follows, he crafts a compelling narrative through his rhymes. No, the tale isn’t prodigious or incredibly profound, but it is worthy of spins.
“Tranquillo” and “Kill” are among the crème de la crème of DROGAS Light. “Tranquillo” features Rick Ross and Big K.R.I.T. While the record is approached like a clubby, turn-up rapper, “Tranquillo” actually has a stronger message:
“Cause I got chillin’ by the million, tranquillo by the kilo / N*gga, n*gga, what, and I got kilos by the speedboat / And I ain’t talkin’ ‘bout them drugs / I’m talkin’ bout that love / For myself and all my n*ggas / All my b*tches and all my thugs, what’s up?”
On “Kill,” Lupe, Ty Dolla $ign, and Victoria Monet are murdering the club – the strip club. Ultimately, the kill comes from the dollar bills being given to the stripper. Superbly produced, the tone of “Kill” changes at the end, transforming from the club to the church, literally. Easily, the switch-up at the end of “Kill” is one of the more clever and creative moments of DROGAS Light.
All in all, DROGAS Light is an album that has its fair share of moments, but is by no means a classic. This album simply doesn’t always sound like a Lupe Fiasco album. Sure, he’s allowed to switch up his style and embrace modern hip-hop, but DROGAS Light isn’t far from being a tour de force in his discography.
Gems: “NGL,” “Made in the USA,” “Jump,” “Tranquillo” & “Kill”