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Lupe’s 2009? Not so bad after all

January 14, 2010

Lupe Fiasco
Enemy of the State
Mixtape
November 25, 2009

Rating: 6.9/10

I drooled all over Jay-Z after The Blueprint 3 stole my attention and my car stereo late last year. That was a great album, solid and enjoyable, but it was a stand-in as my favorite hip hop album of the year. That’s due to the fact that my favorite rapper, Lupe Fiasco, had no new albums to offer us in 2009.

Quietly toward the end of November he dropped 22 minutes of madness on us in the form of his latest mixtape, Enemy of the State.

Though there is scant material to draw from, there is quite a bit to enjoy.

The album starts off with a synth pounding and a greeting before he launches right into “The National Anthem,” which rocks hard with thanks to samples from Radiohead. Probably my favorite song on this mixtape, “Anthem” has the lyrical power to stand up to the aggressive loop utilized for background.

Lupe’s rhymes on the song are quite interesting, matching arenas with subpoenas and more interestingly Anthony Kiedis with teenage. Though he mentions he is not Kanye, his refrain (with help from Thom Yorke) is remarkably like something Mr. West would say: “I’m not the best, I just feel I’m better than, Everyone, Everyone around here.”

However, for everything else Lupe does on this album he is not Kanye West; he is the antidote for what Kanye was in 2009. Lupe flew under the radar in ’09, playing Coachella (on time), appearing on the Twilight soundtrack and not upstaging anyone at any point, anywhere. His HP commercial appears as the last skit on the album, and puts the icing on the cake that was his year last year.

The rest of the mixtape after “Anthem” goes by pretty quickly, but not without a couple highlights. “Yoga Flame” and “Angels Remix” stood out above the rest, which could easily be pushed aside.

The cultural references that he is able to weave into his songs are flawless, a beautiful snapshot of popular culture over the last year: “Tears like a black rap Zach Galifianakis,” a farewell to Patrick Swayze, “I’m feelin’ like a Mac, standin’ around a bunch of PCs.” His ability to lace these gems into his flow is skilled and gives his songs a nice touch of class.

Class he needs for going after rap megastar Jay-Z by flipping “Thank You” and “So Ghetto” into his own creations while spouting “Blueprint 3 could’ve been something if someone else rapped over those beats.” Tough words from someone who hasn’t quite hit his ceiling, and didn’t with this effort either.

Still, Enemy of the State is enjoyable for is brevity and concision. Lupe gets his message across in very little time and leaves little to the imagination. He does it eloquently, and though his only 2009 offering was short it cut to the point and summed up his year pretty well. No complaints here, and since his next album, Lasers, is due soon this is suffice to hold me over.

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