The introduction started off well enough with an anti-war excerpt of the late People's Historian Howard Zinn and a skit about reprogramming the war machinery of death. After that came a track powered by dubstep. Uh-oh. Skimming the songs on the mixtape, I heard beats more fitting for Lasers than The Cool or Food & Liquor.
After the initial reaction passed, I spent the weekend attentively listening to all 12 tracks off Friend of the People. Taking in all the wordsmith wizardry, Lupe Fiasco proves again to be one of the best, if not the best, at employing double entendre, metaphors, similes, and social consciousness in his rhymes. Suddenly, the beats took on a new persona with the MC's prowess infusing them with a new energy. As a line in “SLR” brags, “These ain't bars / This is barbarity!”
Here's five lyrical excerpts from five songs to reassure all the Fiasco fans out there that their favorite rapper isn't going to leave them Black Eyed like the Peas!
1. Lupe Back
In the context of hip-hop, the legacy of the mixtape, like the music and culture itself, has fallen under corporate influence. The second verse of “Lupe Back” bucks that by furiously outing industry shadiness. You'll want to keep rewinding it over and over again, especially these forceful rhymes:
Artists let's mobilize and unionize like the athletes / Radio is making our craft weak / Forced to repeat the same dumb shit that work / Only as hot as your last beat /And rappers, they relating to that last piece /Album never leave they desk if you don't got no B.D.S. / Sacrifice your publishin', they said you really need a hook / And they ain't gon' pay you, said that you received a look.
2. Double Burger with Cheese
One of the best songs on the mixtape, Lupe Fiasco gives a lyrical retrospective on films such as Menace II Society, Boyz n the Hood, South Central and others. As he says, “These are just a illustration / Of a few scenes that helped raise a generation.”
Remember when Bobby took off his tear / And when Doughboy disappeared / After his brother died and he said nobody cared / I still do, after all these years / Because he should've played ball / Ricky ain't deserve none of that at all.
3. SLR (Super Lupe Rap)
Most of the songs off Friend of the People are current, but “SLR” was thankfully included. Recorded before Lasers, it's braggadocio at its best! Pick any bars off this cut and you can't go wrong. Case in point:
Somebody tell Malcom X that I'm tryna steal his style / And tell Cornel West that I'm tryna steal his fro / Go back in time, take the slaves plows, shovels, and the hoes /The masters get the “It Was Written” intro.
4. WWJD He'd Probably LOL Like WTF!!!
If you downloaded the mixtape when it dropped at 10 a.m. Chicago time, then you had this track in time for all the Black Friday madness. Throwing a shot at Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, the rapper breaks down mass consumerism. Yeah, Jesus would probably LOL Like WTF!!! At the very least, he'd tweet his followers a very stern SMH!
Beaverton hearts with Chinese parts / Built by the poor and designed by the smart / On your mark, get set, cop em! / Imagine a life that revolves around shopping / Conspicuous consumption / That means it serves no other function / But to show off to someone.
5. Super Cold
On Lupe Fiasco's leaked track “Go to Sleep” supposedly off the forthcoming Food & Liquor II album, the Coldplay fan rhymed he was “colder than Chris Martin guitaring.” He continues on the theme of his sub-zero flow for an entire song:
I'm super cold, my jacket thin / I'm two below like a marching band / That means I'm super-deep, you surface skim / I'm the whole thing, you niggas 2% / Put em up on that carton, I think I'm losing em.
2pac and Biggie are up somewhere in the Hip-Hop heavens smiling.