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Last night, Lupe Fiasco took a break from attempting to set the record for uses of the word “bitch” on an MTV station to preview tracks from his upcoming album to a small bunch of journalist types. That album, Food & Liquor 2: The Great American Rap Album Part One, is due out on September 25; SOTC was privy to a tantalizing preview of six tracks. Here’s what we discerned from them. (And note: We did not grumble about the lack of an even rudimentary cheese plate.)
1. It’s About Figuring Out America
Talking about the overriding concept behind Food & Liquor 2: The Great American Rap Album Part One, Lupe called it his attempt to write a bunch of “songs about America [and] songs about hip-hop.” The recording process, he added, was part of his attempt to “figure out America.”
2. A Lot Of The Album Was Recorded During The Lasers Sessions
Lupe admitted that boisterous tracks like “Put ‘Em Up” and “Form Follows Function,” both produced by the 1500s, were actually recorded during the same studio sessions that became Lasers. After Lupe “hit a wall with the label” during that particular project, he kept the tape running.
3. It’s Inspired By Howard Zinn and Chris Hedges
Proudly taking out a couple of books from his backpack, Lupe revealed that much of his latest project was prompted by reading a book of Howard Zinn’s speeches (soft cover) and Chris Hedges’s Days Of Destruction, Days Of Revolt (hardback).
4. Lupe And President Obama Are Sill Not BFFs
Lupe caused some degree of controversy when he suggested that the good lord Barack Obama’s foreign policy might actually be cultivating terrorism. The new album sees him sticking to his stance, not least with Lupe referencing a speech that Zinn gave in opposition to Presidential policy and stating that Zinn is “way smarter than the President.” A Hip-Hop Squares showdown seems the only fair way to settle this argument.
5. Lupe Has Made A Rappity Rap Masterpiece
The album will be evenly split between songs based around concepts and songs that, as Lupe put it, are just straight up “rappity rap rap” songs. The latter includes “Form Follows Function,” which he declared a “masterpiece” and features him rhyming over a groove that a little disconcertingly veers towards the smooth jazz side. The song also includes Lupe confessing how he’s “been in a stew all day cooking food for thought”—a process that he flipped into “sushi for the soul.” (We’re not in Bronson territory here, chowhounds.)
6. There’s A “Strange Fruit” Tribute
The opening song on the album, “Strange Fruition,” is intended as a tribute to Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit.” Over a beat produced by Soundtrakk, who crafted “Kick, Push,” the track opens with a sampled quote from James Balwdin and has Lupe declaring “I can’t pledge allegiance to your flag/ ‘Cause I can’t find no reconciliation with your past.”
7. The Album Features No Guest Artists
Food & Liquor 2: The Great American Rap Album Part One will be a totally guest-free experience. But it’s a situation that happened by circumstance, not design. As Lupe explained, there was simply no one else around in the studio while he was recording it: “Blu was asleep, Kendrick Lamar’s in Asia.”
8. It Will Be Lupe’s Third-Last Album
After this project drops, Lupe will release The Great American Rap Album Part Two and a final contractual obligation to Atlantic Records that is titled Skulls (and which is already 80% completed). After that, he will fulfill his long-running dream of becoming a traveling troubadour and “leap into straight artist-hood.”