The Cool Is Hot
One of the noteworthy albums of 2007, Chitown rapper Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool features cameos from Snoop Dogg and GemStones among others, and a remarkably cohesive audio identity with production from Soundtrakk, Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump, and UNKLE that makes for a compelling listening experience from start to finish. The record’s song arrangements emphasize introductory hooks, spiking the album’s restless energy and evoking an urgent resonance.The Cool puts Fiasco’s Kanye West-influenced, album-oriented hip-hop thematics and keen eye for mining local talent on full display. He showcases the patchouli-scented soul of Minneapolis singer Nikki Jean on “Hip-Hop Saved My Life” and the soaring vocal hook of Chicago indie artist Matthew Santos on the huge radio hit “Superstar.”
Fiasco’s penchant for pop obscurantism, alliterative wordplay, and hipster geek swagger is contrasted by social commentary touching on materialism, personal responsibility, gun violence, and pressure to sell out. On Soundtrakk’s mesmerizing cut “Dumb it Down,” Fiasco is reminded that he’s missing the label’s target demo: “You goin’ over their heads Lu / Dumb it down.”
Studio masters Soundtrakk suffer a rare miss on the potentially lethal club banger “Go Go Gadget Flow,” as a beat flimsy, Casio-tone click track and annoying vocal hook torpedo Fiasco’s rapid roll. But dense, genre-bending production and Fiasco’s lyrical fire should make The Cool an iPod staple well beyond 2008.