DROGAS Wave Review

DROGAS Wave is definitely not an album that can be listened in a few days. Lupe is undeniably known for the densest yet compact verses, Lupe’s love for dense verses often overshadows the empathy that runs through the finest moments of his career.

There are some concepts in this project that are floating above the consciousness of those who listened to this album. There are pieces in this project that feel obscure, while others totally stand out and connect flawlessly. This is without a doubt Lupe’s best albums. This is his seventh album, the conscious hip-hop artist poses a revisionist fantasy about under-water slaves sinking other slave ships. Lupe was ambitious with this project as well as with his audience, it can sometimes feel to his long time hard core fans like encountering someone else’s unedited passion project.

This is a wildly unrealized 24 track concept album with a surreal premise: what if African slaves thrown overboard during their transatlantic passage managed to survive underwater and dedicated their entire existence to sinking other slave ships by guiding the waves of the ocean to help free other slaves. The slaves became underwater creatures called Longchains. Lupe does not only construct an alternate historical narrative for DROGAS Wave, he explores why there is a need for such myths in the first place. He seems to have realised that there is a temporary liberation available in reimagining a space where black people are empowered and not destroyed for their identities.

Fiasco keeps black culture in mind on the track Manilla, where he raps ‘’you can accomplish anything if you survive blackness’’. Those words linger throughout the album as Lupe teaches about slavery, death, war and the current state in America. Manilla is described as the currency used to buy and trade slaves at the end of the song. This brings a repetitive chorus into focus and it aligns a piece of the puzzle. The next four songs after Manilla, Lupe spends it diving into his reality filled with Longchains. Gold vs the Right Things to do sits at the top as one of the best songs on the album.

Alan forever and Jonylah forever are two of the strongest songs on this album. Lupe reimagines a reality where Alan and Jonylah did not die. Alan forever, is about a three-year-old Syrian boy named Alan Kurdi, who drowned while he and his family attempted to escape Turkey as refugees. A picture of Alan’s body made news and that increased the attention on the conflicts in Turkey and Syria. The story that Lupe narrates is as if Alan never died and instead grew up to become an Olympic swimmer who saves a boy that would have died like him. Alan’s story connects through mundane but compelling details ‘’I love smiling, I got talents/ I can do flips’’, Lupe raps. This is a reminder that Alan could have become a regular boy. Jonylah forever follows the story about Jonylah Watkins. She was a six month old baby who was murdered by gun fire in Chicago, she was killed in a feud over a video game. Lupe reimagines that Jonylah survived and grew into a woman who wanted to change her community. She grows up to open a free medical clinic. The piano riffs on these two songs have a sombre energy.

Lupe needs to be commended for the features on DROGAS Wave, they are all well place. Damian Marley and Lupe collab on the revolutionary Kingdom, which paints some of the most infamous ghettos as royal grounds. ‘’Port-au Prince is a kingdom, Kingston is a kingdom,’’ Lupe and Damian Marley sing in unison. ‘’Freedom, free men are freedom/black life is a kingdom, why kill yourself for no reason, fam?’’ this resonates with the current racial strife in America. Haile Selassie features Nikki Jean who is a constant collaborator on the album, this a wavy salute to the Emperor Selassie, who was born Ra Tafari Mokonnen. Selassie’s name and legend will forever be tied to the Rastafarian culture, and talks about Black empowerment would definitely be incomplete without a nod to the legendary ruler.

Lupe Fiasco knew exactly what chess piece he was playing when he decided on this this album. Black people have gone through the most but were able to come out the other side thriving, with everything thrown at them they have proven that their spirits are powerful and can withstand anything, ‘’we are just here to fulfil the book,’’ Bob Marley sings in Redemption song.

History has proven that you can accomplish anything if you survive blackness.