Well, it’s almost the end of November and, despite my initial skepticism, it seems that Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool will indeed be out before the end of the year, reaching stores via Atlantic on December 18. But it almost didn’t happen, thanks to an absurd controversy nicknamed “Fiascogate.”
Most online rap geeks are familiar with the contours of the matter, so I won’t get in too deep on it. To be brief: Lupe Fiasco participated in a tribute to A Tribe Called Quest during the “VH-1 Hip-Hop Honors” on October 5. During his performance of “Electric Relaxation” and “Award Tour,” Lupe flubbed some of the lyrics. Several bloggers, and many posters on the Okayplayer.com chat boards, criticized Lupe for the error. In response, Lupe noted that he hadn’t been a fan of Tribe when he was growing up, and wasn’t knowledgeable about their music. This led to a huge torrent of criticism, with many Internet heads castigating Lupe for not knowing about one of the best hip-hop groups ever. Adding fuel to the fire, Q-Tip noted that he was aware Lupe didn’t know their music, and only added Lupe to the tribute after his label brokered it. The controversy grew so big that MTV.com felt obliged to weigh in.
In the immediate aftermath, a lot of bloggers claimed that they wouldn’t support Lupe. A month later, who cares? Lupe doesn’t have to be a hip-hop scholar — he’s an artist, not a professor. Leave the studies to the journalists and others who present themselves as “hip-hop experts.” All Lupe has to do is achieve his stated goal, which is to make good music. And to all the Internet gangstas that front their knowledge of Tribe, how many of them listened to the Last Poets, Amiri Baraka & Sunny Murray, H. Rap Brown, Bob Kaufman and Allen Ginsburg?
But let’s get back to the album. Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool is a concept album centering around several characters, including a thug-turned-zombie called the Cool (who first appeared on Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor), a criminal called the Game, and an evil seductress called the Streets. It’s a morality tale about poverty and temptation.
”For me, personally, it represents three negative influences that surround Lupe Fiasco: The want and the need to be Cool, the attraction of The Streets, and the evils of The Game itself. First album I was like, it’s everything, daydreaming robots! This one represents more of where I really came from… You really have to listen, because it’s subtle, and you can get lost if you just listen to it in one massive thing. But I think once people listen to it over and over and over, the story will start making itself clear,” he told Entertainment Weekly.
Production for the album is handled by Soundtrakk, Patrick Stump from Fall Out Boy, UNKLE, and Chris & Drop. Two singles have already hit the streets: a teaser cut, “Dumb It Down,” and the lead single, “Superstar,” with singer-songwriter Mathew Santos.
The track listing for Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool is listed below.
- 1. “Iesha Poem”
- 2. “Free Chilly”
- 3. “Go Go Gadget Flow”
- 4. “The Coolest”
- 5. “Superstar” (feat. Mathew Santos)
- 6. “Paris Tokyo”
- 7. “High Definition” (feat. Snoop Dogg & Pooh Bear)
- 8. “Little Weapon”
- 9. “Hip-Hop Saved My Life” (feat. Nikki Jean)
- 10. “Gold Watch”
- 11. “Street on Fire” (feat. Mathew Santos)
- 12. “Hello Goodbye”
- 13. “Gotta Eat”
- 14. “Dumb It Down” (feat. Gemini & Graham Burris)
- 15. “The Die” (feat. Gemini)
- 16. “Put You on Game”
- 17. “Fighters” (feat. Mathew Santos)
- 18. “Go Baby Go”