CD Review | HIP-HOP

Lupe Fiasco, ‘Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Part 1’

On his new disc, Fiasco continues to be an anomaly in today’s hip-hop scene, which is driven by huge beats and drunk on silly metaphors. The erudite MC is once again preoccupied with the dumbing-down of America, the decline of social structures, and the empowerment of people, among other things. This is the first half of what was originally a double-CD (the second drops in early 2013) and it’s a challenging set that refuses to settle for easy rhymes or facile ideas. The Chicago native’s flow is crisp and the verses are pointed whether he’s deconstructing the effects of language (“Bitch Bad”) or surveying American mores on “Around My Way (Freedom Ain’t Free).” He remains an unrepentant critic of the president and military recklessness and, while he has a tendency toward tendentiousness, he also maintains his playful love of language (“Put Em Up”). The beats are often pedestrian or lazy here; one hopes “Part 2’s” music will be as ambitious as the lyrics. (Out Tuesday)