Fresh off of a short retirement, Lupe Fiasco has released his sixth studio album––his first independent project––DROGAS Light. This is the first installment in the trilogy of albums scheduled to be released this year. On initial listen, Light does not appear to be particularly special, especially given the standard Lupe’s other projects have set, in fact it first made me think of Lasers. It’s no secret that I, like many other Lupe fans and the man himself, am not a fan of that album. The majority of the album is composed of Lupe rapping over trap beats, giving it a radio-friendly feel similar to that of lasers despite their sonic differences. That being said, under further inspection, Light is conceptually dense and rewards relistening. There are multiple motifs and narratives that span certain sections or the entirety of the album. I believe this is the genius of Lupe Fiasco. He created a project that is both appealing to the casual listener with its instrumentation and to the core fans who appreciate his conceptual abilities. DROGAS Light does not seem to be of the same quality as Tetsuo & Youth, Lupe’s preceding project, however as the title suggests, this is only the light version and yet Lupe was still able to pack content into it. Now we wait for DROGAS and Skulls…
Dopamine Lit (Intro):
Standard trap beat, begins with a lot of ad-libbing but once the rapping commences Lupe gives us a wordplay overload.
NGL (feat. Ty Dolla $ign):
An important concept delivered over another trap beat accompanied by spacious synths. Ty Dolla $ign adds a nice complimentary element. Overall though Lupe describes the many different ways in which black people have been set up for failure in this country.Promise: Trap beat, string instrument playing gives it a hip-hop symphony vibe. Lupe is doing some auto tuned singing in the hook. Verses seem simplistic but give a narrative of a black man living the street life and the struggles he faces between trying to do the right thing and needing to survive.
Made in the USA (feat. Bianca Sings):
Hard hitting, aggressive beat. Lupe through the verses just mentions different things made in different locations across the country. What I’ve gathered from the song is that it seems to counter trump’s whole rhetoric. We have many problems internally and shouldn’t blame the international community for our issues.
Jump (feat. Gizzle):
Still on the trap beats, with Lupe providing an interesting flow. The verses are a narrative of Gizzle (a dope dealer) asking Lupe to transform her into a rapper and eventually the two get abducted by aliens and Gizzle reveals that she can already rap and the two argue about what their future course of action should be.
City of the Year (feat. Rondo):
Lupe is speaking on Chicago. The reality of the situation in the streets as well as his personal experience between moving and his man Chilly getting locked up and the effects that has had.
High (Interlude) [feat. Simon Sayz]:
Appropriately named, this song is a sonic trip. The amount of different musical elements within is astounding. Trap beats with the sped up voice, the uptempo electronic vibe reminiscent of a video game in the verse.
Tranquillo (feat. Rick Ross & Big K.R.I.T.):
Hard hitting trap drums with galactic instrumentation. Lupe’s verse is dedicated to how he will better himself and his relationships. The hook clearly states the purpose of the song is to focus on love. Ross’ verse is a bit more reflective looking at his past and how he wants others to use his life as an example on which they can improve. K.R.I.T. rounds out the verses touching on the difficulties of the black experience in America making the track as a whole a look into the problems and solutions of life.
Kill (feat. Ty Dolla $ign & Victoria Monet):
This song’s mellow and melodic vibe marks the transition away from aggression that the album has featured so far. Lupe doesn’t rap until the 2:46 mark in the song at which he continues the theme of a Saturday night in the strip club. In her verse, Victoria Monet sings from the perspective of the stripper who is all about business when juxtaposed to the enjoyment of the men in the club. At the 6:05 mark the song switches to an organ playing which is supposed to represent everyone at church the following Sunday, further juxtaposing the sinning life of Saturday night and the righteous nature of worship on Sunday morning. Dollar bills that were being thrown at strippers are now being put in the collection plate. Irony and hypocrisy.
Law (feat. Simon Sayz):
Keeping with the mellow vibe into which the album has shifted, Law contains futuristic instrumentation with a subdued drum pattern. The message of the song revolves around a woman with whom Lupe is presumably in a relationship. The hook expresses the desire for loving solitude between the two and the verses are an exhortation for her, and the listeners, to stay true to themselves.
Pick Up the Phone:
It seems that the happy relationship established in Law is on the rocks. Every relationship has turbulence and this song revolves around lack of communication and how damaging that can be.
It’s Not Design (feat. Salim):
An uptempo, almost pop vibe over which Lupe discusses the different manifestations of love. In the third verse Lupe continues the underlying motif of space relating it to the universality and love it seems.
Wild Child (feat. Jake Torrey):
The relationship from Law and Pick Up the Phone has been restored to good terms. With the guitar driving the melody, the song has a pop-funk-rock fusion feel which mirrors the positive feelings associated with love that Lupe is trying to convey.
More Than My Heart (feat. Rxmn & Salim):
Transitioning from a romantic relationship with a woman to what Lupe considers the most important relationship one can ever have. From conception everyone has a special bond with their mother and though it can be complex and take many different forms as Lupe explores, mothers deserve nothing but the utmost respect. As said on his own song in 2012, “Bitch bad, woman good, lady better, greatest motherhood.”
Hello All, It’s Benjy!
Lupe went a bit trap on this but in a good way. He allowed the current climate of rap to dictate the sound of his beats and the way he rhymed and not the other way around. DROGAS Light is essentially what one might expect from the “conscious” rappers of this time and age, but not really hat you expect from a legend like Lupe Fiasco. It seems to me that Lupe went the “consciousness” meets trap route and with DROGAS Light doing a fantastic job on that, Lupe builds the base for future rappers to follow the route!
Have any suggestions for another article, let me know in the comments below! Benjy signing out! Also check out DROGAS Light on Spotify and other music streaming platforms!