It's not always easy to like Lupe Fiasco. Two of his three albums are fantastic but one is laser-hot garbage. He seems like an intelligent dude sometimes, but then he goes on Fox news and makes Bill O'Reilly seem like a smart, reasonable man. He threatens to retire every 90 days but here we are listening to "Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album pt. 1," which (judging by the inexplicably long title) is a prequel to a sequel to his first album or something like that. Lupe's conflicts with rappers, producers and women aside, he still clearly has some musical talent so it's hard to justify just ignoring him entirely. Hearing "Food & Liquor II" does make it a little easier, however.
In a summer that's seen well-recieved releases from Rick Ross, 2 Chainz, Nas and more, it takes a lot of backbone to name an album "Cruel Summer," especially while releasing it in the fall. If anyone should be able to do so, however, it's Kanye West and G.O.O.D. Music, who not only have the cockiness but the skills to back up that kind of statement. "Label" albums have historically been a mixed bag at best, but at least in this case, the whole is legitimately stronger than the sum of its parts.
This time last year, Rihanna was debuting "We Found Love," the lead single from her sixth album "Talk That Talk," and we were giving high praise to its hypnotic house rhythm. Now on the brink of releasing her still-untitled seventh record, she's delivered "Diamonds" to the masses—but its title won't likely be a testimony to its sales certification.
Ciara hasn't seen a single go platinum stateside since 2006's "Promise"—her first foray into slinky seduction after proving herself the Princess of Crunk—so it should come as no surprise that, after two consecutive album flops, she's again enlisted the help of Jasper Cameron, writer of the well-received hit, to give a much-needed boost to her comeback.
This year, A$AP Rocky has been riding high on the success of his “Live.Love.A$AP” mixtape and seems poised to keep the momentum going with his upcoming debut album. In the meantime, we’ve started to meet the various other members of the A$AP crew through their own singles and videos. This week, the Harlem collective released “Lord$ Never Worry” to make the introductions official, and unlike with typical groups full of also-rans benefiting from one member’s achievements, the A$AP Mob's mixtape shows that Rocky isn’t the only one worth paying attention to.