Across his varied, genre-pushing discography, Chicago spitter Lupe Fiasco has kept one thing consistent: He remains one of the best bar-for-bar rappers in the game. His ninth album is a milestone in many ways, although it continues his trend as one of hip-hop’s strongest lyricists: The entire project was produced by Soundtrakk, making it their second full-album collaboration, following 2022's DRILL MUSIC IN ZION, and it’s the first album that Lupe and Soundtrakk worked on with their longtime manager Charley "Chill" Patton since 2007's The Cool. Considering it’s a family reunion of sorts, Lupe and his go-to producer wanted to make the album as personal as possible, weaving narratives with anecdotes unique to the Windy City wonder. On the throwback “Mumble Rap,” Fiasco tells the story of a woman entranced by a mysterious sound before realizing its danger, which Lupe highlights by mumbling his way through the chorus. It’s conceptually daring commentary on the industry Lupe has made his name in, while still reflecting his singular POV. In that way, too, Samurai is more of the thrilling same from rap’s poet laureate.

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