Sound: Socially conscious and sometimes highbrow hip hop that favors spacey, electro funky sounds as it works in a fair amount of cinematic strings, jazzy grooves and soulful crooning. Lupe has a nimble and well-read flow as he examines some of the problems he sees with the glorification of the gangster lifestyle and the lowest-common-denominator attitude in the music industry.
Heavy Rotation tracks: “Dumb It Down” featuring GemStones and Graham Burris; “Gold Watch”; “Streets On Fire”; “Little Weapon” featuring Bishop G and Nikki Jean; “Paris, Tokyo”
Medium Rotation tracks: “The Coolest”; “Superstar” featuring Matthew Santos; “Hip Hop Saved My Life” featuring Nikki Jean; “The Die” featuring GemStones; “Fighters” featuring Matthew Santos
Recommended: The Cool’s thinly veiled commentaries and vast variety of sounds and styles can make for an overbearing listen at first – and it is certainly on the long side. But give it a little time, and you’ll really start to appreciate some of the most original and inspired hip hop out there today.
Grade: A- (Top 20 Albums of 2008 Candidate)