For the second installment of MCWN’s groundbreaking new series, Take It Back Tuesday, I present to you The Cool.
You could say that all of us here at middleclasswhitenoise enjoy the music that comes out of Chi-Town. That’s why we have Kanye’s freshman album as the first part of our series and Lupe Fiasco’s sophomore album as the second part, honestly you should expect a post about one of Common’s albums before it’s all said and done. Lu is the least known of Chicago’s big three. He is the Loul Deng while Kanye and Common are D Rose and Carlos Boozer (Chicago Bulls reference in case you didn’t know). He might be in the background of Chicago scene but that does not mean he isn’t as talented as Kanye or Common.
Lupe is my second favorite rapper. But rapper is a term you have to use loosely with him. He is an artist in its truest sense. A poet, author, rapper, singer, and genius when it comes to word play. Of the three albums he has, The Cool is by far my favorite, even his newest album doesn’t compare to what the cool was. His sophomore album documents the life and death of Michael Young History, a.k.a. The Cool, a drug pusher who made his way from the gutters to the penthouse with the help of the kingpin, The Game, and his wife, The Streets, who happens to be The Cool’s mistress. About half the album follows The Cool, The Game, and The Streets, while the other half include political statements by Lupe, a couple of loveish songs, and a song celebrating some of the people close to him who have left him.
1) Baba Says Cool For Thought- The opening track is a spoken word track of political nature, touching on issues people in the ghetto feel are necessary to fix. The only problem is that Baba says the racism, wealthy taking over the city and forcing the impoverished to less desire able parts, and police brutality is cool. This song provides one of my favorite lines, Check your ingredients before you overdose on the cool.
2) Free Chilly Featuring Sarah Green & Gemstones – Chilly is the co-founder of 1&15th, Lupe’s record label. Right now he is incarcerated on drug charges, apparently he was moving heroin, and is serving a 44 year sentence. This song is just a reminder to him that F’n’F hasn’t forgotten him and he is missed on the outside. The song is actually not finished, on Gemstones’ mixtape The Testimony Of Gemstones, has the official version with verses.
3) Go Go Gadget Flow – Lupe is showing love to Chicago throughout the whole song. Just listen to the chorus. He also shows love to some of his F’n’F teammates. Lupe wants to rule the rap game and he tells the world in this song. It’s not a song that I listen to much. The chorus begins to get on my nerves.
4) The Coolest – For me, The Cool starts with this song, one of my favorite from the album. This is the first song on The Cool documenting the life of Michael Young History. Lord please have sympathy and forgive my cool young history. As Michael hits high school, his “well-to-do” mama tries to keep him out of the game. The Game picks him up and starts his pushing. Michael begins his ascension to top and the persona of The Cool starts to embody him. He begins to become his dead beat father and everything his mother tried to keep him away from. The Streets stars an affair with Michael and he becomes one bad motherfucker. So bad not even hell will take him after his death.
5) Superstar Featuring Matthew Santos – One of my favorite songs Lupe has ever made. A fresh cool young Lu takes the name of the song and does a 360 with the lyrics. Superstar portrays what has happened to Lupe when the shine begins to take its toll. He is trying to tell other rappers that he the lime light can be as dangerous as it can be glorious. Being a superstar isn’t as amazing as it sounds. Lupe is trying to tell people to be who they are and not let the fame get to their heads. He is saying don’t change for anyone but yourself.
6) Paris, Tokyo – Lupe’s song for his girl, she hates it when he goes but he still has to do these shows. No matter where Lupe goes, she goes because she is always in his heart. She says she will always be by his side whether she is moneyless or ticketless. It’s Lu’s love song for his boo.
7) Hi-Definition Featuring Snoop Dogg & Pooh Bear – This is one of Lupe’s mainstream songs. Lupe talks about Chi-city being where he is from but not his actual home. This song actually introduced me to Pooh Bear who I absolutely love on this song. Lupe kills it in his verses and Pooh Bear’s voice is perfect for the chorus.
8 ) Gold Watch – Let’s peruse the essentials of cool, a brief study of the thing so instrumental to Lu. Lupe is a skateboarder, Kick Push told us that. He doesn’t care what anyone thinks about him, what is cool to him is what he wants to be. This is his anthem to tell you he doesn’t give a fuck what you think about him and that’s what makes him a great rapper.
9) Hip-Hop Saved My Life Featuring Nikki Jean – I don’t know where Lupe’s fascination with Houston came from but Lu said this one is for them. A great song that follows a rapper through his journey from a street level pusher to a radio sensation. He does it for his baby, his baby’s momma, the car, and the fame. This is a great story Lu has put into a song. He is one of the greatest lyricists and this song proves it.
10) Intruder Alert Featuring Sarah Green – Everyone has their demons, whether they are inside of us or outwardly acting on us. Lupe touches on the demons that we have. The intruder can be a bad thing or a savior. They can break down or perpetuate our demons. This song is another great song. The verses are on point and Sarah Green’s solo at the end is great too, the girl can sing.
11) Streets On Fire – This song is dedicated to The Streets. She can make you crazy. She is the disease that causes people to hate each other, kill each other, good people doing ugly things. This is my favorite song on the album. My favorite part is the end of both verses when both set of lyrics are similar but change when he describes what The Streets cause.
12) Little Weapon Featuring Bishop G & Nikki Jean – This song is a political song addressing the use of child soldiers across the world along with the violent video games kids are playing. I feel him with the first point but I really could care less about a kid playing a video game. The chorus is my favorite part of this song. I like Lupe’s verses and Bishop G’s is okay. I like the song but it isn’t one of my favorites.
13) Gotta Eat – We return to The Cool, this time he has a change of heart. He has made it to the top but he wants out of the game. The Game will not let him go, he is The Game’s best pusher and he needs him to keep moving his product and he won’t allow The Cool to become Michael again. The Cool tries to turn himself in to the cops but they are on The Game’s payroll. Turned himself in to the paddy wagon, said no, Bacon wouldn’t take him half the pigs on the payroll.
14) Dumb It Down Featuring GemStones & Graham Burris – This is Lupe’s State of the Union speech for hip-hop. Other rappers and politicians want him to rap about stupid shit but Lu wants to tell the kids that being smart is cool and the girls that they can be queens if they want to. The message in this song is what hip-hop should be trying to push. Sadly that’s not what sells.
15) Hello/Goodbye (Uncool) Featuring Unkle – The story of this song is a general who refuses to fight for a cause he doesn’t believe in. The army believes they could just replace him as long as they go the mask on his face. As the soldier he once trained approach him and death has become certain, he doesn’t falter in his beliefs. He stays true to what is the most important thing to him.
16) The Die Featuring GemStones – This song is awesome. It depicts Lupe as The Cool and GemStones as an assassin presumably hired by The Game. The Game has become jealous of the relationship that has formed between his wife The Streets and The Cool. The best part of this song is when GemStones and Lupe alternate bars for a verse. Lupe absolutely murders the first verse. I present the death of The Cool.
17) Put You On Game – This song is dedicated to The Game. The Game is speaking to the masses. He tells them he runs shit and he has been doing it since the beginning. He is the reason for the violence, sex, and drugs in rap. This song goes hard when it comes to the beat, but as always, Lupe’s word play is excellent. I haven’t really listened to this song much but it is a really good song.
18) Fighters Featuring Matthew Santos – Lupe’s anthem for anyone who feels down or feels like there is no hope. Matthew Santos does a great job with the chorus. Lupe’s 2nd verse is my personal favorite. It is about his father and grandmother. Lupe is very appreciative of the way his father raised him and loves the man, who left Lupe early.
19) Go Baby Featuring GemStones – The beat to this song is extremely upbeat. The whole album has a slower, grittier feel to it but the last 2 songs make up for it with their messages and beats. Lupe’s second love song on the album is a great end to a great album. It also ends what Lupe created with The Cool, since he is not mentioned on Lasers.