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28 January, 2015@7:48 pm

Lupe Fiasco expounds and expands on his fifth studio album Tetsuo & Youth. Those expecting a significant dose of anime imagery hinted at the title, prepare to be disappointed. Those looking for an innovative take on hip hop, look no further. Forget the twitter beefs, dude delivers a serious album. Yes, it sounds like it could be a Kanye album in that it is grand in scope, artful in places, and the production is top-notch. What Tetsuo & Youth lacks that a Kanye album would have is at least one radio hit. The only thing keeping this from being a 5 out of 5 is the absence of that one song you will hear on your radio for months, although, maybe it is hiding in there if the world is ready for a hit like “Body of Work”. I can hear the last track “They.Resurrect.Over.New” playing in the background of sports highlights clips, but it doesn’t feel like an anthem.

Straight from jump on the nearly nine minute long “Mural,” Lupe demonstrates gifted lyrics absent of hooks just to check that the listener is ready to absorb the experience. Over the course of the album Lupe proceeds, and continues to paint pictures halfway between stream of consciousness and conscious flow. Moving between the streets and the library with an ease that most of his contemporaries struggle to find. Tetsuo & Youth is a balanced album on all levels.

“Dots & Lines”, and “Little Death” sound like the best electro-soul-funk that Outkast never made. The tracks with Chris Brown and Big K.R.I.T. that Lupe offered as a media preview to the album late last year are missing from the release. The nearly 9 minute long concept track “Prisoners 1&2” dealing with the New Jim Crow incarceration issues signals a turn for the album from jazzy to gritty. From there we go into more trap influenced production on “Body of Work”, a darker bent to the lyrics, and production, snapped back into free form jazzland at the outro on what is possibly the best track on the album, “Little Death” featuring Nikki Jean.

The posse cut “Chopper” feels a bit out of place in the mostly jazz influenced album, although the song’s funny in a sad-but-true kind of way chorus of “Filet mignon with my food stamps/ Car Co-signed by my mama/ Medical card from Obama/ Background check for a chopper” is one of the most memorable hooks on first listen.

“Chopper” offers expert analysis of the real world effects of poverty echoed in a much more comical way on the track “Deliver”. From a look at the sad reality of delivery vs. DiGiorno Tetsuo & Youth segues into the three most inventive tracks on the album: “Madonna (and other mothers in the hood)”, “Adoration of the Magi”, and “They.Resurrect.Over.New.,” tracks which you will just have to experience for yourself.

Lupe delivers an album that demands multiple listens thanks to the depth of his lyrics, the seamless melding of guests, witty lines, laugh out loud moments, and dope production from start to finish. The vocal contributions of Guy Sebastian, Nikki Jean, and others, plus the production by S1, Vohn Beatz, and DJ Dahi are as much the star of Tetsuo & Youth as Lupe’s lines. The listener gets the feeling that each track was crafted as part of a whole, creating a great album tailored to elevate Lupe past his peers with the masterwork of his career so far in Tetsuo & Youth.

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14 Responses to "Lupe Fiasco – “Tetsuo & Youth” – @@@@ [Review]"
  • the man the myth says:

    I hear you Chad, and I am a definite fan of dope lyrics, but for me to get an album to classic status it HAS to have dope beats to accompany the lyrics. While I think this is a very dope album from a lyric standpoint, some of the beats are just so off putting that it ruins certain songs for me. I still think this is a very good album and it warrants 4@’s for sure, but just like Good Kid Maad City, the beats hold it back form that classic status. I love Aceyalone’s Book of Human Language and regard it as an all time favorite. The beats were not bangers, but they fit the subject matter perfectly. For the most part, the beats fit perfectly on this joint too, but a few beats were a little vanilla soft for my take.

  • Mitch 3K says:

    Co Sign myth. Hip Hop music is, after all, still music. The music has to be good. You could actually apply that to all forms of music. I don’t care if Bob Dylan or Marvin Gaye or whoever were singing the most thought provoking shit in history, it’s not gonna resonate with me if the music can’t at least keep up with it on some level.

  • Chad says:

    in think lyricists like low-key, under-handed mood music as a backdrop, but a lot of people want more texture, great producers always bring that, but very few can sustain it and keep in line with a real MC for a whole LP, only one i’ve heard with a message in the last 5 years that matched was saigon and justblaze on TGSNT in 2011

  • D.G says:

    Lupe is an elite emcee and I don’t think that many people have caught up with his earlier stuff yet (i.e “gotta eat” from the cool). But like the earlier comments some of the production just didn’t do it for me!

    Adoration of the Magi is just to ill!!

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