Lupe Fiasco’s DROGAS Wave isn’t an album you possibly can take heed to in a couple of days. That’s why when critiques for Fiasco’s seventh album began pouring on-line after simply 48 hours, his followers had been confused. The Chicago veteran is understood for writing some the densest but compact verses within the recreation. A seven-song effort from Lupe might take months to interrupt down. DROGAS Wave is greater than 3 times that size, sitting at a lty 24 tracks. There are nonetheless items this challenge which might be floating above the consciousness everybody who listened to this album, together with me. Some items the puzzle really feel obscure, whereas others stand out and are linked flawlessly. The sprawling album is one Lupe’s finest, though it does have its pitfalls.
The fundamental idea being defined inside this album was birthed from Lupe’s obsession with The Cool. Michael Young History performed an integral half in Lupe’s second album, and he devised a storyline about one other type the undead. DROGAS Wave transports listeners to a actuality the place slaves that jumped from ships didn’t die, however turned underwater creatures known as LongChains. They stroll again to Africa underwater, they usually information the waves the ocean to assist free different slaves. That is the best technique to describe the dynamics concerned in songs similar to “WAV Files,” and “Gold vs the Right Things to Do.” The former sits excessive as one one of the best tracks on the album, with Lupe dedicating a whole verse to naming slave ships. If there’s anybody educated sufficient to inform a narrative about slaves, it’s Lupe. Especially within the wake Kanye West’s complicated and polarizing statements on the topic.
Lupe retains Black tradition in thoughts on tracks like “Manilla, ” the place he raps, “You can accomplish something in case you survive blackness.” Those haunting phrases linger all through the album as Fiasco touches on slavery, conflict, dying, and the present local weather America. “Manilla” is described because the foreign money used to purchase and commerce slaves on the songs finish, which brings the repetitive refrain into focus and aligns a chunk the puzzle. From there, Lupe spends the subsequent 4 songs diving into his actuality stuffed with LongChains. The multi-song narrative hits a low level on “Down,” the place Lupe finds the necessity to sing about underwater life from the angle the LongChains. “Fish is my associates and the whales is my homies/ Octopuses my folks, the shrimp, all of them know me,” he raps. “The sharks is my niggas, the dolphins is with us/ The crabs is my comrades, the seahorse be holdin’ us down.” The idea works, however the execution fails and places a messy conclusion on the LongChain narrative within the album’s opening act.
“Alan Forever” and “Jonylah Forever” are two the strongest tracks on DROGAS Wave. Both are initially based mostly on true tales. “Alan Forever” is a few younger boy named Alan Kurdi. The three-year-old drowned whereas he and his household tried to flee Turkey as refugees. An image the kid’s lifeless physique made worldwide information, and elevated the eye on the conflicts in Turkey and Syria. Lupe narrates the story as if Alan by no means died that day, and as a substitute grew as much as turn out to be an Olympic swimmer who saves a boy that may have died identical to him.
“Jonylah Forever” follows the story Jonylah Watkins. She was a 6-month-old child who was murdered by gunfire in Chicago. Lupe flips the script, and reimages that Watkins survived and grows into a lady who strives to alter her group. In distinction to the hopeful piano riffs “Alan Forever,” “Jonylah Forever” has a somber vitality that’s extra cautionary than something. Lupe pays his respects to a different soul that has moved onto the subsequent world as nicely, Timothy “Timbuck2” Jones. On “Happy Timbuck2 Day” Lupe dedicates his vitality to elevating up the Chicago DJ who handed away after a battle with most cancers. The energetic and enjoyable observe feels like Sunday morning, and Lupe flexes his flows flawlessly whereas nonetheless performing a catchy hook.
The options that Lupe collects on DROGAS Wave are nicely positioned. Damian Marley and Fiasco collab for the addicting and revolutionary “Kingdom,” which paints some essentially the most notorious hoods as royal grounds. In a time the place rappers drop strains about killing one another with each different breath, it’s refreshing to listen to two artists ask for the motive these actions. “Port-au-Prince is a kingdom, Kingston is a kingdom,” sing Lupe and Marley in unison. “New Orleans is a kingdom, South Central is a kingdom/ Freedom, free males are freedom/ Black life is a kingdom, why kill your self for no motive, fam?” The query resonates with the present racial strife unfolding all through America.
“Haile Selassie” that includes fixed Lupe collaborator Nikki Jean is a wavy salute to Emperor Selassie, who was born Ras Tafari Makonnen. His identify and legend are eternally tied to Rastafarian tradition, and in flip, tales Black empowerment could be incomplete with out a nod to the legendary ruler. “Stack That Cheese,” which additionally options Nikki Jean, is a nod to Lupe’s older work. Functioning as a sequel to The Cool’s “Hip-Hop Saved My Life,” this story references the identical rapper who suffered from author’s block earlier than selecting the refrain “stack that cheese.” Lupe had no motive to assemble this track aside from it being a well-intentioned present for many who have caught by his facet for the reason that starting.
DROGAS Wave does really feel bloated, however solely as a result of there’s a lot to digest. The album is riddled with interludes and generally, Lupe reaches a stage obscurity that’s each unentertaining and counterproductive. Still, Fiasco’s seventh studio album is one his finest information, and the closest challenge we’ll get to receiving a sequel to The Cool.