I copped Lupe Fiasco's The Cool on Saturday (at a legitimate record store), and is currently in heavy rotation on my iPod. I'll spare you the hyperbolic "best album of the year" rant and tell you that it's a very good LP. I don't have time to get into an in-depth critical review, but I did enjoy The Cool for Lupe's lyrical diversity and musical production. It's definitely a step up from his last release, Food & Liquor. I don't think The Cool will grace my year-end list, I enjoyed Kanye West's Graduation, Common's Finding Forever, Littler Brother's Get Back and Black Milk's Popular Demand way more than I did The Cool. But who knows? I'm still listening to the disc.
But bloggers across the Internet seem to agree, Lupe's The Cool is, ah, cool:
Samir Siddiqui of Real Talk NY gave The Cool a 4.5 out of 5 rating calling the disc "another very strong showing from one of hip-hop’s most relevant young [MCs]."
Will Hines of Cold Cut calls Lupe Fiasco a "modern savior of hip-hop/rap" and adds: "Not only does Lupe outclass his peers on their ground -- in terms of beats -- he repeatedly demonstrates that he possesses a keen eye for a good rhyme, producing unbelievably brilliant metaphors from his bag of tricks."
In his first music review he has ever written for his blog, writer RhythmicSoul gave The Cool an A- grade. "[It's] a GREAT album that tackles different issues, personalities and point of views," he writes. "Want something witty without coming off one bit condescending? See 'Dumb It Down.' Want something light and fun? See 'Go Baby.' Craving something a bit heavier that's no laughing matter? See 'Intruder.' The beauty with this album is that there's a bit of something for every type of [rap fan] to appreciate, lyrically and production wise."
Andrew Barber of Fakeshore Drive blog praises Lupe's creativity on The Cool. "It pushes the envelope on what a 'Hip Hop' album is supposed to sound like -- something Chicago artists have done well this year [i.e., Kanye West]."
Entertainment Weekly's Senior Music Writer Chris Willman praises Lupe's The Cool for its divergent themes and musical explorations. "Fiasco's wide-ranging pop instincts rarely fail him, even on the few cuts that are steeped in the street-life narrative. It turns out randomness makes for a surprisingly unifying concept."
Hold on there rap heads, there are a few critics who think Lupe's The Cool is . . ah, tepid[?].
Someone over at the Los Angeles Times (no byline mentioned) thinks Lupe Fiasco's highbrow hip-hop is commendable but annoying. "The 25-year-old lyricist remains loyal to his activist message, which is propelled by intricate wordplay and experimental, trip-hop-inspired beats. Though there's much to admire about Fiasco's idealism and poetic skill, he can also be annoying the way an excessively, politically correct person in your social circle can be annoying. And that's kind of uncool."
Elsewhere, Blender magazine's critic Ryan Dombal gave Lupe's disc three stars (good) and says, "The CD is loosely tied together by a browbeating concept that condemns the glorification of Scarface-style violence and disposable pop-rap, but the moralism is as trite as a Tony Montana reference."
The Lupe Fiasco Show -- Lupe's Personal Blog
Interview with Lupe Fiasco (via Village Voice)