Lupe Fiasco (Wasalu Muhammad Jaco) is a slick, charismatic rapper who could be the best hope for uniting backpackers and mainstream hip-hop fans. He's one of the rare popular MCs whose vocab seems more important than his abs. On his new album, The Cool, this Chicago-based Kanye protégé spits rhymes with athletic fluidity and acute eloquence about subjects such as death, materialism, the problematic nature of cool' and the plague of fast-food restaurants in black neighborhoods. Unfortunately, The Cool's production doesn't measure up to Lupe's lyrical skills: too often, it's schmaltzy and weak of beat. Lupe recently told the Weekly he has other projects (like writing novels and philosophical essays) he deems more important than recording albums, so this might be the last chance to catch him onstage-or not.
Mon., Jan. 14, 8 p.m., 2008