The two sides of popular hip-hop fall in line with two distinct categories: fame and glory on one side, and drugs on the other. Sometimes they overlap, but not on Lupe Fiasco's new record DROGAS Light.
The record starts off with exactly what you'd expect from Lupe: empty tracks with empty words. When the opening track marked "intro" is as long as a normal track should be, we have problems already. 'Dopamine Lit' is basically an ode to drugs and is just plain obnoxious, already killing off what hype you might have for the record. That sentiment isn't raised by 'Promise,' because despite it's solid instrumental, it comprises of the word 'Promise' being said about two hundred times in its four and a half minute run.
There are a lot of mistakes made on this record, but there are points where it redeems itself. Lupe shows promise in 'Jump,' where the flow and instrumental are killer together. This is just full on rap, Lupe not stopping his verse and drops some fire. 'City Of The Year' follows up with some passable moments that continue to show promise, but after the interlude 'High' fails to deliver a big drop that it builds up to, the album falls again. The seven minute track 'Kill' goes on for way too long, the only good parts being Victoria Monet's contribution and the ending. Ty Dolla $ign doesn't do this track much justice, either, despite providing good vibes on an earlier track, 'NGL.'
The last third of the record is better than the rest of the album combined. It starts with 'LAW,' the crooning hook from Simon Sayz giving the song a nice sense of expressiveness, and the instrumental's atmosphere really gives it an extra touch. The feel good vibes carry on in 'Pick Up The Phone,' the plucked orchestra sounding warm and summery, making Lupe's bars sound confident and aimed. The hook adds even more warmth to the already super catchy track, perking you up and just making you feel good. The same is true for 'Wild Child' with a great hook from Jake Torrey, the funky guitars and smoothness of the track making up for Lupe's awful singing in the beginning of the track.
The difference between the back portion of DROGAS Light and the rest of the album is not the fact that it is clearly more accessible. What makes the last part so good is that it's staying true to its character and not trying too hard to be something it's not. A lot of the rest of the record feels ingenuous, trying to comment on social aspects of society or on drugs as a way of sounding relevant rather than for an actual meaningful purpose. The last tracks don't really have any other purpose than to deliver some good vibes, and that's what they do, and that's why it succeeds.
Lupe Fiasco falls short of glory in DROGAS Light, the end of the record far outshadowing the rest of it. The main problem the album has is that it tries to be relevant where it just shouldn't be. The overbearing drug trip this album wishes to be is mostly just embarrassing at the end of it all. Let's hope Lupe sobers up before he's ready to get back in the studio again.
Favorite Tracks: Pick Up The Phone, Wild Child, Jump, LAW
Least Favorite Tracks: Promises, Dopamine Lit
Rating: 65 / 100
Buy or listen to DROGAS Light here: