Lupe Fiasco | Food & Liquor PartII: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1
After publishing two thoughtful, well-put-together albums (“Food & Liquor” and “The Cool”) along with several solid mixtapes (“Revenge of the Nerds” Parts 1, 2 and 3), Lupe Fiasco threw out the over-produced stinker that was “Lasers.”
While “Food & Liquor II” does return to the conscious roots that made Fiasco special in the first place, the rapper still tries to impress far too much by overcomplicating his work. The album’s grandiose title is a perfect example of this tendency; it mentions two different parts of two different projects.
At least the verses themselves are much improved from the other Lupe work in recent memory. He’s snarky, thoughtful and sharp throughout the release, even though he continues to annoyingly elaborate on his verses. Seriously, man, we don’t need you to sing the last punch line.
The production also leaves something to be desired. About every third beat is of “The Cool” caliber while the others resort to played-out canned percussion hits and piano lines.
“Food & Liquor II” isn’t a bad album by any means, but the rapper that we all loved hasn’t come back to us just yet.
Recommended If You Like: Kanye West, Mos Def and Kendrick Lamar
By Spencer Swan
Post-hardcore group debut album that is super heavy but maintains structure.
The debut album from Metz hits hard and fast, lasting not even half an hour but maintaining a relentless barrage of heavy music. Each track runs about two minutes, which is almost as much as the average ears can take. Each is a short burst of heavy, atonal guitar backed by a thunderous cascade of drums, all with vocalist Alex Edkins shouting and shrieking over it. “Knife In The Water” begins with a heavy guitar riff and eventually descends into repetitive shouts of “down!” But even through all of this seeming chaos, the album maintains a strong structure. There’s nothing intricate about this album — instead, it moves in large chunks of screamed vocals, distorted guitar and feedback.
RIYL: Big Black, The Jesus Lizard, Sleigh Bells
By Bill Oldham
Flying Lotus | Until the Quiet Comes
With one ear to the future and one to the past, the producer delivers an understated but vibrant electronic record.
With both “Los Angeles” and “Cosmogramma,” Steven Ellison has proven himself a leader in the world of electronic music. On his latest release, his synthesis of jazz and hip-hop may at first seem backed off, less outstanding and, to the eager fan, a bit disappointing.
However, after a thorough listen, you realize that all the intensity and brilliance of his other releases are still there, simply stated in a subtler manner. Slow-moving jazz grooves contrast with a more upbeat electronic sound with smooth, cascading keyboards against artificial woodblocks and high-hats.
Tracks flow so seamlessly it’s sometimes impossible to know you’ve changed songs. By the fifth track, the quick-moving bass lines of Ellison’s protege and fellow Brainfeeder member, Thundercat, begin to enter the mix, bringing with them a heightened sense of expression and complexity. Vocal contributions by Erykah Badu and Thom Yorke add to the spacey and shimmering qualities of the music but blend into the aesthetic, never distracting the listener from Ellison’s compositions.
Songs waver between pure jazz and pure electronic, from the organic, almost psychedelic “DMT” to the colorful, high-pitched synths and maximalist bass on “Sultan’s Request.”
Flying Lotus once again shows his gift for melding the classic and the present-day, just this time in a more understated way.
RIYL: J Dilla, A Tribe Called Quest, BadBadNotGood
By Bill Oldham