This month, I wanna put a spotlight on one of hip-hop’s “conscious/political” lyricists. Newly independent artist, Lupe Fiasco, is a Grammy-winning rapper that has just recently released his 6th studio album, “DROGAS Light”. This is album #1 of the three albums he made plans on releasing in 2017. Those of you that are fans will be intrigued once again, as this album is touted, “for the drug dealers”. Lupe uses hard-hitting production to cushion his convicting & thought-provoking lyrics on this studio effort. The production is really a smokescreen, resembling the sounds of current day artists, like Migos & Lil’ Uzi Vert. However, he utilizes the beats to draw the ears of this fan base, and then exposes them to his signature witty lyricism and satire.
“NGL” (Niggas Gon’ Lose) (feat. Ty Dolla $ign)
We get a look into different common situations found mainly in “African-American” communities that are detrimental to the people therein. One example is the need for people, mainly young men, to emulate a gangster/thief/hustler movie role, even one that shows a dismal fate for the actor. Lupe also speaks on the misfortune of “African-Americans” in the law enforcement, judicial, and prison system.
“Disproportionate convictions, especially when it come to our case/ you seen the movie, they killed the nigga – why you still wanna be like Scarface?/ that’s why niggas gon’ lose, yeah, I said it, niggas gon’ lose…”
“Made In The USA” (feat. Bianca Sings)
StreetRunner’s production hits extra hard on this one, as The Jedi takes listeners from coast to coast across America, pointing out some of it’s homegrown ills. From the mass production of firearms in the country, to the southern roots of the KKK, to the prevalence of gang mentality, Lupe gives a landmark roadmap to negative American culture.
“My Glock came from Smyrna, Georgia/ my AR-15 from California/ my cocaine come from Arizona/ my Detroit whip run quick like Forrest….”
“Tranquillo” (feat. Rick Ross & Big K.R.I.T.)
The big feature track of the album comes by way of “Tranquillo”, a mellow Floss & Fame produced track that allows listeners to witness a introspective Fiasco, reflecting on his life and thinking of efforts to change himself for the better. Lyrical heavy-hitters Rick Ross & Big K.R.I.T. follow suit in their own way.
“I will pursue felicity, find value in simplicity/ altruism and empathy will be the first thing extended to my enemy/ clarity will be the trademark of my friendships/ just invest in my business and appreciative of the rarity of my existence…”
“Kill” (feat. Ty Dolla $ign & Victoria Monet)
By far the most interesting and entertaining satirical play on the album, “Kill” is Lupe’s story of not only the hustlers and parishioners in the Saturday night strip club scene, but the strippers as well. Lupe, along with Ty Dolla $ign and Victoria Monet, tell us the story of ass-shaking and money blowing on a Saturday evening. Then, in a surprising twist, gives us a taste of the same crew in “service” the next morning.
“My nigga, of these poles could talk/ if the stage grew another pole, got up and walked/ gotta kill these dollars, it can’t be an assault/ need your real love, mama, you can’t be in my thoughts…”
Among Lupe’s excellent lyrical career, he’s managed to relate to the common man, as well as soar over the craniums of many die-hard wordplay fans, critics, and scholars. “DROGAS Light” is a composition of both of these styles. On many ends, it’s not as complicated or in-depth as “Tetsuo & Youth”, which still has many of us referencing and researching to find the true meaning of the lyrics. It does have some of those instances, but not very many. Lupe manages to do the part of being relatable to listeners outside of the “nerd” category, without “dumbing down” the lyrical prose that makes him who he is. “DROGAS Light” is a straight-forward album, and a good one, at that.
– Warnell Jones is a hip-hop writer and enthusiast from Detroit, MI. He loves to research and write on music & culture, as well as civil and political issues in society.