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Lupe Fiasco 

Friend of the People (independent)

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Last year, Lupe’s Lasers was condemned as a shallow sellout, a fiasco for an MC whose last two albums established him as a hip-hop wunderkind. After Lupe cited record label interference and distanced himself from Lasers, fans expected a mixtape redemption. But he’s little more than a bored braggart with superficial peacenik proclivities, daring only occasionally, and in his sample choices (heavy metal and unvarnished electro house when it’s not Lasers’ same plasticky space odysseys). “I can do this all day,” he raps on “Joaquin Phoenix”---and while that’s a common trope of rap braggadocio, it sounds here like an admission of laziness. Amid bronze-medal wordplay and tinfoil production, Lupe’s lustre couldn’t be duller.


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