I really don’t know how someone of Lupe Fiasco’s magnitude can fall off so dramatically, from jaw-dropping Touch The Sky-guest verses, chart dominating hits like Superstar, and quietly legendary releases like Food & Liquor and The Cool, we now see Lupe arguing on Twitter, calling President Barack Obama a racist, and falling out with Atlantic Records, I guess you could call his career turbulent to say the least.
Here in the present day Lupe Fiasco is prepped to release his fifth studio album Tetsuo & Youth following his not-so-Great American Rap Album, with guest appearances from the likes of Nikki Jean, Guy Sebastian, Ab-Soul and Trae The Truth and let’s say ‘limited’ promotional work, it continues the aura and all-out rap aesthetic of his prior release.
Tetsuo & Youth is very strong in some places- the jazzed up eight minute onslaught Mural, but bizarre and perplexing in others- the trippy Alfred Hitchcock-style Winter. The album illustrates Fiasco’s up-and-down career with inconsistency plaguing the LP. Dots & Lines is introduced with a twanging banjo, but evolves into a hazy mist of pop-rap home to an infectious hook and toots from a mouthorgan. Body of Work features one of the most berating and strenuous hooks I’ve heard in a while, yet his raps are some of strongest- Kubrick in plot and tone // Lots of bones, scolds to the top of the tone // Skim through it is just skin to it // You’re so thin you see the sin through it.’
It feels like every song on Tetsuo & Youth features a drawn-out instrumental outro, such as with the aforementioned Body of Work, a tooting sax is a surprisingly fitting way to bring the song to a close, where as the trippy continuation of Adoration of The Magi ruins the novelty. The production and overall composition of Tetsuo & Youth is sketchy, and the two factors of experimental to catchy and poppy often just clash rather than coincide. While it certainly is home to some strong material- some of Lupe’s strongest in a long time, as mentioned, Tetsuo & Youth can in part still encapsulate Lupe Fiasco’s inconsistent career.
Verdict – WWWV