On his seventh album, Lupe Fiasco seeks to enlighten, constructing a fable about a group of African slaves who are thrown off a ship and perish. Some spirits return to Africa while others form an armada to patrol the sea against future slave ships. With this weighty backdrop, Lupe examines how the past affects the present and future. DROGAS WAVE is both a creative peak for the Chicago MC and a novel of an album, its first five songs some of Lupe’s most diverse and ambitious yet. They are, in order: an opening lament, a Spanish-language rap, a consciousness-raising banger, a grime track, and a tender string movement. “Alan Forever,” “Mural Jr.,” and “Imagine” are prime Lupe—revelatory bars over inspired beats, sparked by a desire to connect. He also includes the acclaimed 2013 track “Jonylah Forever,” which memorializes a six-month-old girl struck down by bullets. It’s a sobering moment during a time when senseless violence can feel so normal.

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