Lupe Fiasco has a lot to be angry about.
There are still more African Americans in jail, and less completing high school, than white Americans. Palestinian children are being taken by Israeli soldiers, Iraqi boys are growing up without fathers following a needless war; and girls all over the world are growing up with society steadily eroding their self-esteem.
There are a lot of disenfranchised people in the world, and Fiasco has appointed himself the voice for them all.
If anyone is going to speak up for all of this injustice, Fiasco certainly has the eloquence to do it. Lyrically, he is unsurpassed, exploring the full territory that wordplay and multi-syllable rhyming has to offer. The opening verse of ‘Put ‘Em Up,’ for example, uses the word ‘king’ in nine different contexts.
His vocabulary is formidable, and his knowledge of the social issues he is so pissed off about is thoroughly believable.
However, the words are where the mastery on this album stops. The beats throughout are virtually unchanging – it’s a solid canvas for Fiasco to show off his skill, but by the time you’re halfway through, you’ll find yourself craving some variety.
He’s already a rapper with a fairly monotonous tone, and the album would benefit if the music stepped outside of bland piano and string arrangements and into something more exciting occasionally.
Food and Liquor Part 2 this album undoubtedly is. It’s a return to what Fiasco does best, and what we were introduced to with his debut – fiercely intellectual social and cultural commentary that uses the English language like a paint palette.
The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1 however, is a bit of a stretch. Until he develops the sampling, beat-making and production skills (or works with someone who has them) that are required to make a truly great hip hop album, he will remain outside the upper echelons of great American rap.