From the start it was apparent that Lupe was not going to be your average knucklehead rapper. “Kick Push”, his effervescent debut single was the tip off that he was seeking higher ground. The sublime shout out to skate culture was contagious, coasting along on a jazzy mid-tempo groove and sweeping horns. For the full-length album, Lupe proved he had much more in store. Across a diverse set of intellectually demanding tracks, Lupe demonstrated a remarkably high degree of bookish creativity. Pushing boundaries musically and thinking outside of the box conceptually. It was a thoroughly refreshing take on what contemporary hip hop could sound like in the hands of an artist hell-bent on elevating the art form regardless of the commercial implications.
From “Daydreaming”, a subtle indictment on those who perpetuate hip hop stereotypes to “He Say She Say”, his lament on absentee fathers, Lupe was enthralling. And his politically charged tracks like “American Terrorist” and “Hurt Me Soul” could make Chuck D proud. But beyond the attention to detail and verbal sophistication, Lupe showed that he had the gift of flow. His voice was remarkably musical, his verses soothingly fluid. He could rap passages from War And Peace and it would still sound good. Not since Nas’s “Illmatic” had a debut artist delivered a record so mesmerizing. Lupe is indeed a throwback to the days of the true school MC’s. A rapper with a lot to say, the skill to articulate his ideas and the will to follow his own path.