Hip-hop is subject to scrutiny and revisionism these days, as the outside world increasingly takes note of fringe acts with something constructive to say. In this climate, Lupe Fiasco, Chicago's pre-eminent socially conscious hip-hop maestro, returns with fourth studio album Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1.
Ostensibly a sequel to 2006's criticially lauded debut Food & Liquor, the record with the unwieldy title is familiar territory for Lupe Fiasco fans. The vociferous rapper again weaves a politicised narrative of disparate topics with a disillusioned finger on the pulse of all that is unhealthy about contemporary American society and culture. This album is largely a rerun of that debut, railing against the "same shit", as Fiasco himself observes on 'ITAL (Roses)'. Wasting no time, 'Strange Fruition' lambasts the systemic racism and structured inequality he perceives. Fiasco presents a nuanced take on hip-hop culture too, critical of the excesses of mainstream rap. 'Bitch Bad', for example, is a swirling diatribe against misogyny inherent in colloquial language and reinforced norms.