Album of the week - Lupe Fiasco gives politics a rest
Tetsuo & Youth
The highly anticipated fifth album from outspoken MC Lupe Fiasco is an album of transition. Marking the end of his relationship with Atlantic Records after a much publicised feud, the 32-year-old Chicago rapper has produced a thunderous album almost bereft of his usual political preaching.
Don't panic: Lupe hasn't taken to rhyming about the magnificence of his sparkly diamond rings and the girth of his blunts - he's still painting social portraits with intellectual and metaphorical rap. It's just that hip hop's most socially conscious commentator isn't content to shove his anti-establishment opinions down our throats any longer.
On Tetsuo & Youth, the profound lyrical content offers a more well-balanced view. Lupe's not pretending to have all the answers anymore; he's allowing us to draw our own informed conclusions: "I don't want to be relevant today/ I don't want to be the go-to guy for the club song/ Or to speak on all the dumb s*** that's going around."
Starting breezily with the sound of waves lapping and children playing, it's almost four minutes before we first hear anything fantastico from Lupe and then wham! Mural is an almost nine-minute lyrical onslaught taking us from Vicodin and Morrissey to parakeets that beat box, the stream of enlightening consciousness ending in true Lupe style, "Real still, til he realises his realness/ Defeat Samsara, achieves nirvana and brilliance".
Elsewhere DJ Dahi supplies some booming beats and outstanding production as Lupe waxes lyrical about religion and the justice system. It's exhausting but compelling storytelling, and possibly Lupe's finest to date.