Sounds of the Mayan 2012: Five Albums That Existed This Year – Food and Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Part 1

Politics, Pop Culture, Soundtrek, TrapperKeeper, Vinyl Cut Prose

So… if nothing else, 2012 proved that by George the Mayans had it all kinds of right: this year proved a renaissance of apocalyptic proportions – a year when the culturally amnesiatic cynics failed to recognize a sea change over the screams of their own skeptic scoffs… alas, even in the midst of privately-backed Super-PAC pocketed media, bindered women, NRA publicity stunts, mass school shootings, a deluge of false formations and knowledge starvation, the spectacle’s continued triumph over literacy shrugged – and oh, Sandy; even in the midst of all that, there was music – glorious music – because after all, to mark the fall, the birth of tragedy is forever  conceived in the spirit of music.

Somewhere along the 365 steps on the road to perdition, albums debuted, someone named Frank caused an Ocean of tears, a boy named Ken lamented the m.a.a.d. urban terrain, and Fiona spun the wheel while time idly passed by… but this isn’t about them – although everything else prior has unremarkably revolved around the former two – this list is about five albums I listened to, five albums I didn’t need people to tell me I liked, five works that are tragic in their own right, five that may not be cool, may be too young for school, but five that at the end of the day reminded me of what “those” Mayans might play had they lived to see this day…

Food and Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Part 1 – Lupe Fiasco

LFFAL2

Lupe is to the educated, the other culture connoisseurs, those presently existing from an existential perspective, what Kendrick became for those who don’t have the time, patience, attention span, or concern for anything external of the mainstream myopic. Fiasco is the good wiz in a mad capital to Lamar’s maad citied good kid. Food and Liquor 2 is the gospel opus, this Great American Rap Album is Part 1 is a raptrospective on the imperial collapse of a nation unchained in a state of voluntary mass surveilled servitude. If this black everything is too long winded, too creatively intertwined between vocabulary and vernacular, too scriptural with slang, too substantial for contemporary tastemakers’ slacker style – that’s the point. Much like Lauryn sitting atop her hill – Lupe’s distance from the nucleus of now is what grants inevitable goodness: Fiasco’s Tiresian opus remains forever sitting mad pretty.

Hijabs, hoodies, afros, locks
Teddy bear, liquor bottle shrines, rocks
Tanks, prayer rugs, church pews, Mexican corn stands
Blood, sweat, and tears, police batons
Gas masks and bullets create graffiti on corners

Murals that salute freedom or death for liberty
Be it Inglewood or Egypt, Bedstuy or Baghdad
Syria or Liberia, the west bank or the west side of Chicago
Where food and liquor stores still occupy the block
While police and community watchmen justify why they shot
Emmit Till and Malice Green, Rekia Boyd and Trayvon Martin
Better not wear that hoodie while shopping for a carton
Or whatever they sellin in your food desert
Cause your soul is dessert and will be dissected and consumed
On the Fox evening news while we sing the blues
The new Jim Crow caged bird sings
Cause he’s tired of occupying his misery and of our marching
He wanna fly to a higher consciousness
But his school on academic probation
They gave him medicine, diagnosed him with a felony and mental retardation

Food and Liquor 2 is required listening for those who care because they need to, not because listmakers told them they have to. It is the Gospel According to Lupe. Fiasco’s mainstream acclaim is what he abhors, to be a part of the system he discursively deconstructs. His food nourishes the fiends of the opiate’s antidote; his liquor satiates the palettes of prohibited literacy in the midst of libelous libation; his deuces call for peace in the face of cultural industry’s arms race. This Great American Rap Album massacres the Mercied Rapublican Party Anthem, stonefacing false irony of juvenile currency, quelling the click, laying papyrus over the rock, couping the man-made monde of postcolonial modernity – and we wonder why he is so resistant.

Ghettos, America. U.S. to the izzay
Killa in the citywide sprizzay
Where there’s sunshine in the shizzade
Church won’t pull him out the pin like a grenade
For acting out their fears like a charade
‘Til they blackin’ out their tears like it’s lights out
Bring em out the black like a lighthouse
And wave to em before they wiped out
Lifesaver, threw em, hope they catch it
But it’s so Titanic to be iced out
That’s just scratching the surface like triple axels
Want to roll around that Bentley like Crystal Castles
In addition to the chain
That’s just to take the attention from the pain
Or is it the mission of the man
Audubon Ballroom, Motel Lorraine

That said, the brave heart donor finds functional form within the battle scars and sacred placement in strange fruitions – because we choose realistic dissidents of oceanic channels and pseudo-ludicrous children of market grace, he is most rogue and chosen. Lupe is deemed moot in a world where deemed queens are bound and trukfitted beneath canine title. Fiasco is forgotten in an era of aesthetic vulgarity  and pithy popularity, of extended emptiness and hallowed states of hollow shells, of a time waiting for the new world to begin while presented prophecies pass, ignored by the unholy mass. He fell off in an music scene dominated by killed snitches and red herring dishes. He’s seen as extended and overintellectual in a world celebrating cultural amnesia and mass mediated immersion diversion. All things being equal, I’d say he got the better deal.

Now I can’t pledge allegiance to your flag
Cause I can’t find no reconciliation with your past
When there was nothing equal for my people in your math
You forced us in the ghetto and then you took our dads
The belly of the beast, these streets are demons’ abs
I’m telling you that setup in them sit-ups is so sad
The system is a slab

Now as I wander through the city goin mad
I see the fruits of planting evidence instead of grass
A swindled generation with no patience, full of swag
Man, they so impatient with the stations that they have
As long as they look good when they be doin bad
Then the separation from the truth is gettin vast, fast
Be a slave at first or free at last
Double-edged choices make a nigga wanna pass
Double-headed voices from the eagle on the staff
The pyramid where eyes will split the spirited in half
Divided over money

Delighted by the dummyin down of the importance of crowns we’ll never have
That’s why my sounds and sermons are so full of wrath
Baptize your mind, let your brain take a bath
Swim inside the river get delivered from the craft
Of the witches in this business that be livin off your sad
Hatin on your happiness you hit ’em off with laughs
Smile ’til they surrender, then you kill ’em off with glad

Hello evil, I’m back… in the name of freedom

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