Revisiting Lupe Fiasco’s “The Cool”

Lyrically gifted and socially conscious, Lupe Fiasco is a hip hop icon. The Lasers rapper has delivered album after album, from Food & Liquor to his most recent tape Drogas Light. Within each project, Lupe explores different themes and concepts, using his platform to discuss important issues.

For example, in Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1, Lupe meditates on the struggles that come with being black in America, primarily in a song like “Around My Way (Freedom Ain’t Free)”, which was sampled from Pete Rock & CL Smooth’s famous song, “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)”. In addition, Lupe delves into the dilemma of misogyny in hip hop; he uses his song “Bitch Bad” to reflect on the negative impact of the word “bitch” in society. This all speaks to the epitome of hip-hop as an art form – commentary on social and political issues.

Without this narrative and innovative outlet, it makes it more difficult for people to express their thoughts and ideas, and to combat some of the issues that plague society today. To quote the Long Beach, California, rapper Snoop Dogg, “hip-hop is what makes the world go around”.

When surveying Lupe Fiasco’s rap career in totality, the Chicago-born rapper’s finest work is most likely The Cool. The album is brilliant. It tells a tale of Michael Young History, a fictional character who wishes to be the king to the Streets, a female queen who serves as a metaphorical representation of street life. Lupe expands these clever metaphors by discussing “fast food”, as it relates to fast money, in the song “Gotta Eat”. Michael lives the fast life, and then perishes from it in “The Die”. The album is then overlaid with songs that divert from the story about Michael. These songs include, “Paris, Tokyo”, “Superstar”, and “Free Chilly”. Overall, it is all packaged so masterfully.

With this album, Lupe Fiasco pushed rap to new heights. There have been emcees, such as Slick Rick, who told famous stories over old school instrumentals, and rap legends, such as NaS, who told the stories that were synonymous with the streets. However, Lupe Fiasco did it in such a way that was different. He did it, in his own cool way.

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