BY PAUL MEARA • SEPTEMBER 24, 2018
Lupe Fiasco released his DROGAS WAVE album on Friday (September 21). Due to leaks, the long-awaited project dropped a week earlier than intended. Already it is impressing quite a few of those that have encountered the 1st & 15th release. Featuring the likes of Damian Marley, Nikki Jean, Crystal Torres, Elena Pinderhughes, Simon Sayz, and Bishop Edgar Jackson, the Chicago MC’s seventh LP adds to a respected catalog which includes #1 albums and gold plaques. In the latest episode of TBD, Justin “The Company Man” Hunte makes a case for DROGAS WAVE as a resonant return to form for one of his favorite Hip-Hop artists. He also shows how Lupe remains committed to making an album that refuses to “dumb it down.”
“It’s wild because I don’t think we’ve really seen the musical possibilities of an unbridled Lupe Fiasco. Most of the time we’ve known him, he’s been drowning on the business side of the music industry, sincerely,” Hunte muses, referring to Lu’s former and complicated relationship with Atlantic Records. “What other artist has ever needed a fan protest to secure the release of one project and Anonymous, [the] Internet’s Batman, to secure the release of another? In that sense, DROGAS WAVE isn’t only a fresh listen contextually or conceptually, but for Fiasco himself.” Additionally, Hunte claims that Fiasco’s unconventionality is what makes DROGAS WAVE a standout both among other comparable albums in 2018 and previous releases within his extensive catalog.
However, just like 2006’s famed Food & Liquor and Lu’s heralded ’07 follow-up, The Cool, the new release is built around a concept. “It’s about a group of slaves on a slave ship on their way to Africa to the West Indies and they are thrown off the boat. But they didn’t die. They stayed alive and they lived under the sea,” the artist told Billboard‘s Eric Diep in April. Hunte unpacks this concept with clips from the LP. “And they dedicated their lives to sinking slave ships — so they became this super, underwater force against slavery. It’s like a super-deep story that I am building on different fronts. But that’s the main idea and the source material for the album.” A report by Complex last week quoted Lu as saying, “‘Drogas’ is the Spanish word for drugs. I made it an acronym which stands for ‘Don’t Ruin Us God Said.'