That's one of the most odd albums covers I've ever seen, but as they say, you should never judge a book, or in this case an album cover, by it's cover.
After the disappointment that was the "Lasers" album, Lupe Fiasco returns with his fourth album, "Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1". One of the first things that came to mind when I saw this title is there's no way he'll come close to matching the quality of that album, but he almost pulls it off. Putting his social and political views to the side, the Lupe on this album is the artist that was NOT present on the "Lasers" album, and he delivers quality material here. He hasn't sounded this inspired since 2007's "The Cool" and it works. Highlights include "Strange Fruition" (featuring Casey Benjamin), "ITAL (Roses)", "Audubon Ballroom", "Heart Donor" (featuring Poo Bear), "Battle Scars" (featuring Guy Sebastian), and "Bitch Bad", which really has to be heard to be appreciated. What works on this album his the very production (courtesy of names like The Runners, 1500 or Nothin, etc), not too mention the excellent lyricism of Lupe Fiasco. There are quite a few hooks on this album that are sung, but please don't let that fool you. It perfectly fits the tone of this album well and it's NOT a blatant attempt at radio/video play or mainstream/commercial success. Overall, this is an excellent album, clearly better than 2011's "Lasers" and RIGHT on par with his first two albums. A job well done and by the time you finish reading this, it'll be part of my collection! Today's generation NEED to hear an album like this, but with all due respect, everything Lupe says will probably go over their heads. No disappointment here, and this deserves to be on any Best Albums of 2012 list, and I can't wait for Part 2.
Rating- 4.5 stars