On his fifth studio album, Tetsuo and Youth, Lupe Fiasco stated during an interview with DJ Skee that this was his least flawed album yet. It’s hard to disagree with him, as Tetsuo and Youth finds Lupe at his most focused, lyrically.
Lupe kicks the album off with “Mural,” a nine-minute social commentary that almost feels like a freestyle, with plenty of one-liners and solid alliteration. Halfway through the album, “Chopper” features six other rappers, and is one of the heaviest songs on the album, with strong verses coming in rapid-fire.
One of the album’s strongest tracks, “Prisoner 1 & 2” is an amalgamation of two songs that tell the story of unjust incarceration and racism among prison officials. In the wake of the recent controversies surrounding police brutality, this song’s timeliness makes it especially emotional.
The four bridge songs (instrumental tracks that take their names from all four seasons) serve well to pace the album from the many long form songs and biting social commentaries.
As with most of Lupe’s albums, the lyrical value outweighs the production in most of the songs. With relatively bland production backing Lupe, the album definitely could have benefited from more featured artists.
Lupe Fiasco is well known as one of the most intelligent lyricists in the rap game, and the most obvious quality of Tetsuo and Youth is the maturity that shines through. With his frequent warning statements of retirement, and this being reportedly his last album on Atlantic Records, it will be interesting to see where he goes from here.