That’s My Jam is a weekly feature where one person from the Selective Hearing staff goes to wax poetic about music that is pivotal to their musical tastes. Whether that would be an album, a song, or anything in-between. We all had to start somewhere.

Lupe Fiasco

Released September 19, 2006 

Track Listing

  1. Intro
  2. Real feat. Sarah Green
  3. Just Might Be OK feat. Gemini
  4. Kick, Push
  5. I Gotcha
  6. The Instrumental feat. Jonah Mantranga
  7. He Say He Say feat. Gemini & Sarah Green
  8. Sunshine
  9. Daydreamin’ feat. Jill Scott
  10. The Cool
  11. Hurt Me Soul
  12. Pressure feat. Jay-Z
  13. American Terrorist feat. Matthew Santos
  14. The Emperor’s Soundtrack
  15. Kick, Push II
  16. Outro

When I applied to be part of the Selective Hearing staff, one of the samples I sent to Greg was a review of Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor. After reading it, I couldn’t believe how long it actually was. I thought about posting it in full, but I decided to trim it down.

Wasulu Jaco, better known as Lupe Fiasco is a great kind of different. He is a nerd through and through, but unlike others, he isn’t trying to be a superstar with it, he fully accepts it and proudly presents it to the world. But beneath all of the layers lies a pure lyrical phenomenon. So much so that Jay-Z decided to be an executive producer on Food & Liquor, and Lupe isn’t on Jay-Z’s label.

The album begins with his sister Iesha Jaco speaking about the streets of Chicago, then goes to Lupe explaining the album: “The world and everything in it is made up of a mix of two things: you’ve got your good, and your bad. You’ve got your food and your liquor.” From then on, Food & Liquor takes you on an audio journey. He gives Jay-Z a run for his money on “Pressure”. He whips out double entendres on “Just Might Be OK,” he takes it easy talking about a woman on “Sunshine” without having it sound depressing and sappy.

The majority of the album is narrative. The Mike Shinoda, of Linkin’ Park, produced track “The Instrumental” follows two people’s journeys of being addicted to an object. The song really hits home and makes you wonder about what we enjoy. Another narrative is about Lupe himself. On “Hate Me Soul” Lupe rhymes about his first distain for hip hop and his growth.

He even gives his initial thoughts on the executive producer Jay-Z: “I had a ghetto boy bop/a Jay-Z boycott/cause he said that he ‘never prayed to God he prayed to Gatti’/I’m thinking ‘Godly, God guard me from the ungodly’/but by my 30th watchin of Streets is Watching/I was back to giving props again”

Accepting his contradiction, not being afraid to speak on the juxtaposition, puts Lupe in a world of hip hop that only few can claim. But Lupe keeps going with an uncanny, almost superhuman, ability to string a story together on the song “The Cool,” a song about a gangster who turns into a zombie:

“Smelled the Hennessy from when his niggas got reminded/and poured out liquor in his memory he didn’t mind it/but he couldn’t sip it fast enough/so the liquor was just filling the casket up/floating down by his feet was the letter from his sister/2nd grade handwriting simply read ‘I Miss Ya’/suit jacket pocket held his baby daughter’s picture/right next to it one of his men stuck his swisha/He had a notion as he lay their soakin’/He saw the latch was broken and kicked his casket open”

Soundtrakk and Prolyfic did most of the production, giving Lupe the proper auditory canvas to layout his ideas upon. Also providing production is Pharrell on “I Gotcha” and Kanye West on the previously mentioned “The Cool”.

The thing that has happened with many truly gifted artists that happened with Lupe when Food & Liquor was released is that no one truly understood the depth and ability of the artist until later in their career, a fact that is confirmed with his second album The Cool. But without looking into the future of the second album, Lupe Fiasco’s Food and Liquor not only stands on its own as a great album but also puts Lupe’s amazing talent in the spotlight. I can definitely recommend this album to anyone, regardless if they listen to hip hop or not.

Food & Liquor

iTunes