Lupe Fiasco’s DROGAS Wave is just not an album you possibly can hearken to in a number of days. That’s why when critiques for Fiasco’s seventh album began pouring on-line after simply 48 hours, his followers had been confused. The Chicago veteran is thought for writing some the densest but compact verses within the sport. A seven-song effort from Lupe might take months to interrupt down. DROGAS Wave is greater than thrice that size, sitting at a lty 24 tracks. There are nonetheless items this challenge which might be floating above the consciousness everybody who listened to this album, together with me. Some items the puzzle really feel obscure, whereas others stand out and are related flawlessly. The sprawling album is one Lupe’s greatest, though it does have its pitfalls.
The primary idea being defined inside this album was birthed from Lupe’s obsession with The Cool. Michael Young History performed an integral half in Lupe’s second album, and he devised a storyline about one other type the undead. DROGAS Wave transports listeners to a actuality the place slaves that jumped from ships didn’t die, however turned underwater creatures referred to as LongChains. They stroll again to Africa underwater, and so they information the waves the ocean to assist free different slaves. That is the best option to describe the dynamics concerned in songs equivalent to “WAV Files,” and “Gold vs the Right Things to Do.” The former sits excessive as one one of the best tracks on the album, with Lupe dedicating a complete verse to naming slave ships. If there may be anybody educated sufficient to inform a narrative about slaves, it’s Lupe. Especially within the wake Kanye West’s complicated and polarizing statements on the topic.
Lupe retains Black tradition in thoughts on tracks like “Manilla, ” the place he raps, “You can accomplish something when you survive blackness.” Those haunting phrases linger all through the album as Fiasco touches on slavery, struggle, loss of life, and the present local weather America. “Manilla” is described because the foreign money used to purchase and commerce slaves on the songs finish, which brings the repetitive refrain into focus and aligns a bit the puzzle. From there, Lupe spends the subsequent 4 songs diving into his actuality crammed with LongChains. The multi-song narrative hits a low level on “Down,” the place Lupe finds the necessity to sing about underwater life from the attitude the LongChains. “Fish is my mates and the whales is my homies/ Octopuses my folks, the shrimp, all of them know me,” he raps. “The sharks is my niggas, the dolphins is with us/ The crabs is my comrades, the seahorse be holdin’ us down.” The idea works, however the execution fails and places a messy conclusion on the LongChain narrative within the album’s opening act.
“Alan Forever” and “Jonylah Forever” are two the strongest tracks on DROGAS Wave. Both are initially based mostly on true tales. “Alan Forever” is a few younger boy named Alan Kurdi. The three-year-old drowned whereas he and his household tried to flee Turkey as refugees. An image the kid’s useless physique made worldwide information, and elevated the eye on the conflicts in Turkey and Syria. Lupe narrates the story as if Alan by no means died that day, and as an alternative grew as much as change into an Olympic swimmer who saves a boy that may have died similar to him.
“Jonylah Forever” follows the story Jonylah Watkins. She was a 6-month-old child who was murdered by gunfire in Chicago. Lupe flips the script, and reimages that Watkins survived and grows into a lady who strives to vary her neighborhood. In distinction to the hopeful piano riffs “Alan Forever,” “Jonylah Forever” has a somber power that’s extra cautionary than something. Lupe pays his respects to a different soul that has moved onto the subsequent world as effectively, Timothy “Timbuck2” Jones. On “Happy Timbuck2 Day” Lupe dedicates his power to elevating up the Chicago DJ who handed away after a battle with most cancers. The energetic and enjoyable monitor feels like Sunday morning, and Lupe flexes his flows flawlessly whereas nonetheless performing a catchy hook.
The options that Lupe collects on DROGAS Wave are effectively positioned. Damian Marley and Fiasco collab for the addicting and revolutionary “Kingdom,” which paints some essentially the most notorious hoods as royal grounds. In a time the place rappers drop traces about killing one another with each different breath, it’s refreshing to listen to two artists ask for the motive these actions. “Port-au-Prince is a kingdom, Kingston is a kingdom,” sing Lupe and Marley in unison. “New Orleans is a kingdom, South Central is a kingdom/ Freedom, free males are freedom/ Black life is a kingdom, why kill your self for no purpose, fam?” The query resonates with the present racial strife unfolding all through America.
“Haile Selassie” that includes fixed Lupe collaborator Nikki Jean is a wavy salute to Emperor Selassie, who was born Ras Tafari Makonnen. His identify and legend are endlessly tied to Rastafarian tradition, and in flip, tales Black empowerment could be incomplete with out a nod to the legendary ruler. “Stack That Cheese,” which additionally options Nikki Jean, is a nod to Lupe’s older work. Functioning as a sequel to The Cool’s “Hip-Hop Saved My Life,” this story references the identical rapper who suffered from author’s block earlier than deciding on the refrain “stack that cheese.” Lupe had no purpose to assemble this track apart from it being a well-intentioned present for individuals who have caught by his facet for the reason that starting.
DROGAS Wave does really feel bloated, however solely as a result of there may be a lot to digest. The album is riddled with interludes and typically, Lupe reaches a stage obscurity that’s each unentertaining and counterproductive. Still, Fiasco’s seventh studio album is one his greatest data, and the closest challenge we’ll get to receiving a sequel to The Cool.