Lupe Fiasco's The Cool
Developing in tandem with his Chi-Town mentor Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco’s sophomore effort is a far grander than his debut. “The Coolest,” “Little Weapon,” “Hello Goodbye,” and “The Die” are chock full of sound and syllable, buoyed by the same enormous, inflatable synths as Kanye’s Graduation. However, some of the best moments on The Cool hearken back to the nimble mischief of A Tribe Called Quest; “Paris, Tokyo” is Lupe’s holler-back to Tribe’s classic “Award Tour,” while “Gold Watch,” with its tricky beat and trickier rhymes, might be the album’s best song. As his music grows beyond the simple nostalgia of his 2006 hit “Kick, Push,” Lupe weaves what are easily mainstream rap’s most ambitious verses. “Dumb It Down” is a portfolio of exploratory rhyme styles: “I'm not a listener or a seer so my windshield smear / Here you steer, I really shouldn't be behind this / Clearly cause my blindness / The windshield is min-strel / The whole grill is roadkill / So trill and so sincere / Yeah, I'm both them there.” While songs like “Put You On Game” become too grandiloquent for their own good, there are dozens of verses on The Cool that are as complex and challenging as anything a Grammy-nominated rapper has ventured.