"Hope my stories . . . keep your sons out the slums and your daughters out of orgies," raps Lupe Fiasco on his fourth album. Like a lot of firebrands, Lupe's got a messianic streak. But it's hard to begrudge his swelled head: What other chart-topping star packs his songs full of radical politics, black-history lessons and sci-fi visions of environmental catastrophe? Food & Liquor II has the usual Lupe deficiencies: a hectoring tone ("Bitch Bad") and bombastic beats that pile-drive messages home. He's better when he relaxes a little: Songs like "Hood Now," a celebration of black cultural takeover, have a lighter touch, and hit twice as hard.
Listen to Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1: