Album review: Tetsuo & Youth by Lupe Fiasco

Lupe Fiasco’s fifth album Tetsuo & Youth finds him returning to his strength - crafting stories.

Tetsuo & Youth by Lupe Fiasco is a willfully dense and winning set.
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Tetsuo & Youth

Lupe Fiasco

(Atlantic)

Four stars

The Chicago rapper Lupe Fiasco's fifth album Tetsuo & Youth is his best since his bright 2006 debut Food & Liquor – and that's because he returns to his strengths. After finally dropping the unconvincing anti-establishment shtick of the last few albums, he is finally back to crafting stories and not manifestos. Mural will deservedly go down as one of the year's main hip-hop talking points. Clocking at nearly nine minutes, the chorus-less track is brilliant – and a bit nutty – as Fiasco blisteringly raps about all things from coffins to hot dogs. Another sign of Fiasco's welcome restraint is in Prisoner 1 & 2, where instead of sermonising (his Achilles heel), he delivers a powerful critique of the American justice system by taking on the role of a prisoner and prison guard in each verse. Fiasco once again teams up with his Battle Scars collaborator, the Australian R&B artist Guy ­Sebastian, for the atmospheric Blur My Hand – it is the only radio-friendly moment in what is a wilfully dense and winning set.

This album is available on Amazon.

sasaeed@thenational.ae