Tetsuo and Youth: A Dictionary-esque Album Review

Lupe Fiasco:


(noun) a West Chicago raised, enigmatic, often polarizing, skateboarding, ever-ranting, rapping rubix cube.


Tetsuo and Youth:


(noun) Lupe Fiasco’s 5th studio album, named such because Fiasco “likes the way it sounds.”



Stand Out Tracks




a hook-less, 8:45 epic poem accompanied by angelic voices and repetitive keys, Mural could very well be a stream of consciousness freestyle that can stunningly hold the attention of any fan of lyrical mastery.


Prisoner 1 & 2 (featuring Ayesha Jaco)


a cinematic pairing of strings and keys in 2 distinct movements where the perspectives of an inmate and CO are exposed. Briefly interrupted by rattling chains, a poem entitled “The New Jim Crow”, and screeching crows, Prisoner 1 & 2 paints an eerie description of how mass incarceration tragically alters the psyches of those employed by prisons and those behind bars.


“Love is looking over various errors/And hate is habitually accelerating terror/ Everywhere but the mural/ I just wanna be collected when I call god damn/ I don’t wanna be accepted; not as all as I am/ Visitor, visitor, prisoner, prisoner, land.”


Chopper (featuring Billy Blue, Buk of Psychodrama, Trouble, Trae tha Truth, Fam-Lay, & Glasses Malone)


a gritty banger outlining Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (Physiological, Safety, Love/Belonging, Esteem, Self Actualization) from a hood/impoverished perspective.


“That’s why I look at God kinda odd/ Cuz these are the cards that he deal us/ Ramen can’t fill us/ Medicaid can’t heal us/and the mamas can’t stop us/and these choppers might kill us.”


Deliver (featuring Ty Dolla $ign)


Deliver oozes over a sizzling bass line and examines the root causes of violence, drug addiction, and urban decay that have led to the specific refusal of pizza chains to deliver to urban neighborhoods.


“The ghetto is a physical manifestation of hate and a place where ethnicity determines your placement/a place that defines your station/reminds you niggas your place is the basement/white people in the attic/niggas sellin’ dope/white people is the addicts/white folks act like they ain’t show us how to traffic/all that dope to China ya’ll don’t call that trappin.’”


Madonna (And Other Mothers in the Hood) (featuring Nikki Jean)


Just as Mary lost Jesus on the cross, Madonna captures the unmitigated grief and unanswered questions of mothers who have lost children to violence in the streets.


“They sent them all to the slaughter/ Baby mama, no father/ He was hanging round them murderers/ And them prostitutes and them robbers, yeah/ Them dope fiends and that water, yeah/ Wit’ angel dust in they nostrils, yeah/ They hit em up wit’ that chopper/ She was holdin’ him, in her hands/ Just like Stigmata, yeah/ Said you gon’ live here forever/ Salvation and treasure/ You gon’ live here forever, yeah/ Died like Ricky on his mama couch/ Right there in his mama house/ Only child, the holy mama’s your mama now/ Mama said my son never been no killer/ Mama said my son never been no gangster/ No drug dealer, no gang member/ Mama said my son never been no trouble/ Mama said my son never been no trouble.”


Final Thoughts




(adjective) great in amount, extent, degree, or importance; exceptional. “Tetsuo and Youth” is singularly one of the most complete studio albums released in recent years.



(adjective) being essential, indispensable, or requisite. From its acrylic on canvas cover art to the odes to double entendre, symbology, and subtleties not seen since “Food and Liquor I” and “The Cool”, Fiasco has created a kaleidoscopic observation of urban violence, racial profiling, mass incarceration, lust, depression, and the possibilities of growth and redemption.




(adjective) having all parts or elements; lacking nothing; whole; entire; full. This album is a tapestry of thought provoking subject matter and stellar production that can only be described as cohesive abstraction.