Lupe Fiasco’s DROGAS Wave is just not an album you’ll be able to take heed to in a number of days. That’s why when evaluations for Fiasco’s seventh album began pouring on-line after simply 48 hours, his followers have been confused. The Chicago veteran is thought for writing among the densest but compact verses within the recreation. A seven-song effort from Lupe could take months to interrupt down. DROGAS Wave is greater than 3 times that size, sitting at a lofty 24 tracks. There are nonetheless items of this mission which are floating above the consciousness of everybody who listened to this album, together with me. Some items of the puzzle really feel obscure, whereas others stand out and are linked flawlessly. The sprawling album is one in all 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 of 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 of the ocean to assist free different slaves. That is the best solution to describe the dynamics concerned in songs equivalent to “WAV Files,” and “Gold vs the Right Things to Do.” The former sits excessive as among the finest tracks on the album, with Lupe dedicating a whole verse to naming slave ships. If there may be anybody educated sufficient to inform a narrative about slaves, it’s Lupe. Especially within the wake of 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 of 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 of the puzzle. From there, Lupe spends the following 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 attitude of the LongChains. “Fish is my pals 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 of the strongest tracks on DROGAS Wave. Both are initially primarily based 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 of 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 an alternative grew as much as grow to be an Olympic swimmer who saves a boy that may have died identical to him.
“Jonylah Forever” follows the story of 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 girl who strives to alter her neighborhood. In distinction to the hopeful piano riffs of “Alan Forever,” “Jonylah Forever” has a somber power that’s extra cautionary than something. Lupe pays his respects to a different soul that has moved onto the following world as effectively, Timothy “Timbuck2” Jones. On “Happy Timbuck2 Day” Lupe dedicates his power to elevating up the Chicago DJ who handed away after a battle with most cancers. The energetic and enjoyable observe seems like Sunday morning, and Lupe flexes his flows flawlessly whereas nonetheless performing a catchy hook.
The options that Lupe collects on DROGAS Wave are effectively positioned. Damian Marley and Fiasco collab for the addicting and revolutionary “Kingdom,” which paints among the most notorious hoods as royal grounds. In a time the place rappers drop traces about killing one another with each different breath, it’s refreshing to listen to two artists ask for the motive of 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 purpose, 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 perpetually tied to Rastafarian tradition, and in flip, tales of Black empowerment can be incomplete and not using 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 deciding on the refrain “stack that cheese.” Lupe had no purpose to assemble this track aside from it being a well-intentioned reward for individuals who have caught by his aspect because the starting.
DROGAS Wave does really feel bloated, however solely as a result of there may be a lot to digest. The album is riddled with interludes and generally, Lupe reaches a degree of obscurity that’s each unentertaining and counterproductive. Still, Fiasco’s seventh studio album is one in all his finest information, and the closest mission we’ll get to receiving a sequel to The Cool.