1 Album, 5 Days, 5 Writers, 5 Reviews. That's how we'll do it this week. Every LupEND Blog writer will be giving you a track-by- track review of F&L2: TGARA pt. 1. The homie @al_amend starts today.
1 Ayesha Says (Intro) - It's a nice return to tradition having Ayesha open up the album with another powerful spoken word piece. The bit about protests being trendy rather than something that sustains the burning desire for change is especially true in todays' ADHD society. This is definitely a perfect mood-setter for the album
2 Strange Fruition - When Lupe previewed the F&L2 intro a few years back, I didn't think it could get any better than those lyrics. Then he proves me wrong and writes the just as good first verse of this song. GODDAMN if that ain't some ugly truth for yo' ass! Soundtrakk proves again why he's the perfect match to Lupe's style, and Casey drops some ill vocals on the chorus that really blends well with the song. This is arguably the best intro on any Lupe album.
3 ITAL (Roses) - The more I listen to this track, the faster it's becoming one of my favorite Lupe songs. I like how direct he is even in the hook, not letting the positivity get lost in a misconstruable metaphor. Sticking to his guns about everything from the substance of 97% of commercial Hip Hop to his stance on presidential foreign policy with no apologies at all, gotta love it.
4 Around My Way (Freedom Ain t Free) - In my opinion, this song is Lupe's best display of flow, lyricism and thought-provoking content since "Conflict Diamonds". I definitely walked away from the song having learned a few things, and all of that being over the remake of 1 of Hip Hop's best instrumentals was just icing on the cake.
5 Audubon Ballroom - The hook on this track is my first gripe with the album so far, not the words but the delivery of it. It may be the voice effect used that threw me off a little. The lyrics also feel a little incohesive and scattered until the third verse comes in to bring the message home.
6 Bitch Bad - I think this song will go down as one of the most important moments in Lupe's career, if not all of Hip Hop culture. The story told in the song obviously sparked the conversation it intended to, and I think having the culture discuss at what point it stops being "just music" was very necessary.
7 Lamborghini Angels - The vivid storytelling on this song is like "Intruder Alert" on steroids. There are so many different topics that get touched on (no pun intended), but none of them feel out of place in the overall theme. He's flowing perfectly over a somewhat haunting beat, and songs like these are what prove how elite Lupe's artistry actually is.
8 Put Em Up - As the beat was building up, I knew Lupe was about to go on a crime spree all over it. And you would think the hook would be a little break from how hype I get during the verses, huh? Nope, you're wrong. Lupe needs to brag about how much better he is than other rappers more often.
9 Heart Donor (Feat. Poo Bear) - Content-wise, this track feels like a optimistic prequel to American Terrorist 2; telling the city-dwellers why he's taken on the job of protector and giving advice on how to stay away from the villains. Its vibe is very different from the rest of the album, but its a nice song nonetheless.
10 How Dare You (Feat. Bilal) - This track has a real cool fun vibe with it. This is one of those driving from the beach with all the windows down type songs. Bilal and Lupe once again prove that they make magic when they're together. Pause on all levels...
11 Battle Scars (with Guy Sebastian) - Truly an awesome collaboration. Guy and Lupe created something universal both sonically and emotionally that can resonate with anybody. The song deserves all the success coming it's way.
12 Brave Heart (Feat. Poo Bear) - This track is so hype! The beat and hook make me wish I had dreads just to shake them to this song, and of course Lupe rips it to shreds. The extended House Of Pain metaphor in 2nd verse is so brutal. #LetTheseMCsBreatheLupe
13 Form Follows Function - Songs like this are the reason RapGenius even exists. Lupe definitely was possessed by something in that booth because the way he found so many metaphors that related back to the central theme is beyond me. The flow is slick, the wordplay is on another level, the beat is banging, and the Imogen Heap line at the end made me temporarily despise Lupes' clever ass when it finally hit me.
14 Cold War (Feat. Jane $$$) - Everytime Lupe gets personal on a song, its always a gem and this track definitely follows in that tradition. Everything about this song blended perfectly, from the beat to Janes' incredible voice on the chorus. The tone of the lyrics oozed emotion, especially the 2nd verse which sounds like pure unfiltered pain. RIP Esco.
15 Unforgivable Youth (Feat. Jason Evigan) - This song is absolutely brilliant in every way, like Grammy award winning type brilliant. The story of America's past and present is told in such a chilling way, the story of it's future doesn't sound far-fetched in the least bit and can make you question if there's anything than can be done at this point. Jason delivers the hook beautifully, and the tribal chants at the very end really made the song feel complete in a way.
16 Hood Now (Outro) - In a time where "preachy" is the adjective many people love to use to describe his music, Lupe drops this light-hearted, fun and even humorous song that very effectively drives the point home. The vibe of the song is great and just when I felt like the songs' structure was becoming too repetitive, Pooh Bear comes in and delivers a nice hook that creates a perfect balance.
Overall, I think this album is incredible. The lighthearted 3-song patch in the middle of the album throws the vibe for a loop a little, but it comes back just as strong. The beats are the hardest collective of instrumentals Lupe has so far, the concepts were executed perfectly and obviously the lyrics didn't go anywhere. The balance of America and rappity rap was just right, and it has me impatient for Part 2 already!