Lupe Fiasco introduces his new album Drill Music In Zion with a powerful rendition by his sister, Ayesha Jaco, who, if you recall, did an intro on his debut album Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor, together with a narration on his second album Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool.
“The Lion’s Deen” is the opening track to this new 10-track album. The word “deen” is an Arabic term for “religion” of a Muslim. I would like to believe Lupe used “deen” as a purposeful contradiction, and a play on the lion’s den.
He diligently spun the narrative to black religion, communities, and hip-hop, which was founded by black people, considering the lyrics say “And concrete jungles that turn playgrounds into graveyards. That buried generations of black and brown men”.
As the second track transitions after the powerful ending to “The Lion’s Deen”, I am taken back into a time spell. Back when hip-hop was jazzy, soulful, enriched with poetic utterances. “Ghoti” is reminding me of what an exceptional storyteller does to a well-matched beat.
The track instigates bars, double entendres and penmanship, with lyrics like “Ball like a can of peas, fall like Michael Jackson on anaesthes’”. Lupe is in his bag right now. The flow sails so smoothly.
The next song on the album was actually the lead single, which was released a month ago. “Autoboto” is a play on auto bots from The Transformers movie franchise. On this track, Lupe throws in auto bot like connotations such as “I get signals from the source” or “I can twist, and it contorts, I just feel like I’m a Porsche”.
“Autoboto” is more upbeat, yet showcases an extravagant side to Lupe Fiasco as a rapper. The hook is repetitive and catchy. The flow reminds me of Lupe circa 2011, the quickwit and lyricism all meshed together. His natural style.
The fourth track is “Precious Things”, a soulful offering packed with an imperative message that needs decoding by the listeners. The song’s general message is being mindful and respectful to those assisting you, and he goes deeper into the message by telling a relatable story.
Lupe Fiasco navigates the album to another troubling issue on “Kiosk”. He touches on capitalism and materialism within the realm of hip-hop.
“If you had to paint the gutter, which color would you choose?” this endearing start to “Ms. Mural” shows the final release of mural projects. The whole song is basically a complicated metaphor linked to all mural-related projects.
He mentions how record labels can ruin the art behind the music, while also comparing it to a real mural – an art piece being ruined by corporate giants.
Next up on the album is its title track “Drill Music In Zion”. Lupe reiterates on how drill music has ruined hip-hop and the life direction of the youth. “All the drill music in Zion, these episodes of the soul, make me go past emote control”, he raps on the chorus.
The follow up track “Seattle” gives off a laid back buzz about it. Lupe features a vocalist, Nayirah, who glides through with immaculate, clean vocals. He sublimely blends in with a laid-back but steady tempo on his flow.
“When they try to keep, you gotta climb gates. Escape from a city that’s defined by crime rate”, Lupe further emphasizes about Chicago, and how there is still an unseen gatekeeping from success on the other side of the invincible “gate”. He focuses attention on the crime rate and the violence already making it hard to jump over the gates.
Lupe closes the perfectly curated album with “On Faux Nem”, the tenth track. “Faux Nem” is a slang term that Urban Dictonary describes as “something you say in agreement with another”. This term is actually a Chicago slang also known as “on folks nem”.
On this track, Lupe is trying to show the complexities of slang talk within the young community. Popular rappers from Chicago use this term on their countless records. Lupe uses “Faux” as foe on this track, and on his first verse, he goes in with, “Rappers die too much, That’s it, that’s the verse”.
Lupe Fiasco has been in the game for more than a decade, so this song, as the last one on the album, is about him deeply reflecting on what he has seen hip-hop become. What has drill music really done?
I absolutely love the album. It goes in so much depth, and I wish it was longer so that he could keep going. It’s a deeply reflective project, and might guide the youth into a better path than they are already embarking on.
Listen to Lupe Fiasco’s Drill Music In Zion and stream it everywhere else here.
Words by Ruby Adele