This dropped at the start of my senior year of high school. It actually came out on my seventeen birthday. Ten years to today’s date.
He was different than the majority of rappers at the time. He was open about his religion and his faith, which made its way into his music. Also, he skateboarded. Plus, he avoided drugs and alcohol.
I found myself relating to Lupe.
We both followed different paths than our peers, me with my friends and high school classmates and Lupe with his fellow rappers. I wasn’t into the partying, drinking or smoking as other seniors were. In fact, you could’ve said I was straight edge. That sounds weird especially for American seniors.
Lupe was coming off his dope Fahrenheit 1st and 15th mixtape series and an ever doper guest appearance on Kanye West’s “Touch The Sky.” He had a buzz. I knew he was going to be successful after his debut dropped.
I was big on Lupe. I had my brother pick up Fader magazine because Lupe was on the cover. Ironically, another one of my favorite rappers at that time, Papoose, was in that magazine too.
I was ready for the masses to see what I saw in Lupe.
As soon as the album leaked on web, I got it and burned a copy. I took it to school. Ironically, I was taking a music appreciation class at the time. The week it leaked, we where asked to bring in a CD we enjoyed to analyze it. Not going to lie, I wanted to show off that I had the album, so I gave the CD to the teacher to play.
She played the intro.
I told her skip it and go to the next one.
Then, “Real” came on.
It took about fifteen seconds before this dude that knew hip-hop (not just the mainstream rap that was out at the time) gave a reaction. His reaction is permanently cemented in my brain. He was surprised. His face said it all. He looked in my direction and asked, “Is this the new Lupe?” I just gave a nod.
That was a real life humble brag.
When I finally heard Food & Liquor, I was satisfied. The album was solid.
I remember reading an article or seeing an interview where Lupe describe the album’s title.
In that interview, he said that corner stores, such as markets and liquor stores, and other equivalent stores, where home to the good and the bad. It was home to the good: food, and the bad: alcohol, cigarettes, etc. Maybe this was a bigger metaphor for the world, which I can see this being, but it made sense to me. Everyday you deal with the good and the bad.
I’ve already talked about this album in this post, but I can say more on it.
“Pressure” stands out because Jay Z is on it and he delivers a monster verse, all while co-signing Lupe.
As soon as the beat drops on “The Emperor’s Soundtrack,” I lose my shit and get hyped. I can’t stop bobbing my head.
Matthew Santos kills it on “The American Terrorist.” He goes the fuck off.
“Hurt Me Soul,” “Daydreamin’,” and “Sunshine” are beautiful records. Those types of songs weren’t being made at the time, at least not to my knowledge.
In all, I can look back at Food & Liquor and know that it played a factor in the transition from teenager to adulthood. It made me realized that you could go against the norm. You didn’t have to follow the crowd; you could carve your own lane. You could like different stuff and still be cool. I know that discovery might seem far-fetched but that’s what I got out of it. Lupe was entirely different than some rappers and he was accepted and applauded by his peers. Lupe officially arrived and blew me away.