Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor

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Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor
Studio album by Lupe Fiasco
Released September 19, 2006
Recorded 2003–2006
Genre Hip hop
Length 72:14
Label 1st & 15th, Atlantic
Producer Jay-Z (exec.), Charles "Chilly" Patton (exec.), Lupe Fiasco (exec.), The Neptunes, Kanye West, Mike Shinoda, Craig Kallman, Prolyfic, Needlz, Soundtrakk, Brandon Howard
Lupe Fiasco chronology
Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor
Lupe Fiasco's The Cool
Singles from Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor
  1. "Kick, Push"
    Released: April 18, 2006
  2. "I Gotcha"
    Released: August 8, 2006
  3. "Daydreamin'"
    Released: September 11, 2006
  4. "The Emperor's Soundtrack"
    Released: November 5, 2007

Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor, commonly referred to as Food & Liquor, is the debut studio album by American recording artist Lupe Fiasco, released on September 19, 2006, on 1st & 15th Entertainment and Atlantic Records. The album features production from The Neptunes, Kanye West, Mike Shinoda, Craig Kallman, Prolyfic, Needlz, Soundtrakk, and Brandon Howard. Jay-Z, Chill, and Fiasco himself are credited as the executive producers for the album. Songs on the record discuss poverty, Islam, terrorism, racism, and individuality.

Originally, the album was reported to have debuted at number 12 on the Billboard 200; however, due to incomplete Nielsen SoundScan reports, the album actually debuted at number eight,[1] even though the album had produced no top ten singles. The album received four Grammy Award nominations, including Grammy Award for Best Rap Album at the 49th Grammy Awards. "Daydreamin'", featuring Jill Scott, won Best Urban/Alternative Song at the 50th Grammy Awards. The album was digitally re-released on September 13, 2011 to mark its 5th anniversary; this version features four new tracks. On April 30th 2015, Lupe Fiasco released a music video for "Just Might Be OK", nine years after the album's original release.

Background and conception[edit]

At age 19, Fiasco was signed to Epic Records and was a member of a group called Da Pak. The group released one single before splitting up.[2] He later signed a recording contract with Arista Records, but was dropped when president and chief executive officer (CEO) L. A. Reid was fired.[2] In 2006, recording artist Jay-Z was impressed by Fiasco's feature on Kanye West's "Touch the Sky" and agreed to become the executive producer of the album.[3]

The title of the album, (somewhat of a surprise for many coming from a Muslim) refers to the various Food and Liquor stores in Chicago neighborhoods.[4] It also refers to the "constant tug of war between good (food) and evil (liquor)".[5] The title is a philosophy that Fiasco believes about human nature. He went on to elaborate:

"In Chicago, instead of having bodegas like in New York, the majority of the corner stores are called 'Food and Liquors.' The store is where everything is at, whether it be the wine-o hanging by the store, or us as kids going back and forth to the store to buy something. The 'Food' is the good part and the 'Liquor' is the bad part. I try to balance out both parts of me."[6]

Prior to the release of Food & Liquor, Fiasco was one of Rolling Stone magazine's "List of Artists to Watch" in 2006.[7] In April 2006, the entire album was leaked onto the Internet, which resulted in it being shelved.[8] With the leak of the album, Fiasco was heralded as the potential "savior of hip hop" by critics,[9][10][11] as well as fellow recording artists West and Williams.[12][13] In response of the leak, Fiasco recorded additional songs for the album. Despite stating he would only work with Prolyfic and Soundtrakk, he also worked with other record producers, including Kanye West, Pharrell Williams and Mike Shinoda.[14] Recording sessions took place at the 1st & 15th Studios in Chicago, Illinois, the Record Plant Studios in Hollywood, California and the Right Track Studios in New York City, New York.[15] Prior to its release, Fiasco had to make "several last-minute changes" due to "sample issues".[16]

Musical content[edit]

Subject matter[edit]

Food & Liquor contains elements of midwest hip hop and alternative hip hop.[17] Fiasco covers a wide variety of subjects on the album. The opening track begins with Fiasco chanting the opening lines of the Qur'an in Arabic.[18] The following track, "Real", is a reflection of "making music of which he doesn't have to be ashamed".[19] "Kick, Push", the album's lead single, is about a young male and his love for skateboarding.[20] The lyrics follow the skateboarder through many stages of his life such as his childhood, finding love, marriage, and adulthood. Although the literal meaning of this song is skateboarding, the actual meaning of the song is rejection, and being criticized for doing what one loves.[citation needed] On "The Instrumental", Fiasco addresses addiction to television.[21] "He Say She Say" deals with the story of a single mother and a child lacking a father figure.[21] "The Cool" follows the story of a dead gangster who rises from the grave and returns to the hood where he lived and died.[21] With its "haunting keys and strings", "Hurt Me Soul" deals with displacement and alienation from his neighborhood.[22] On "American Terrorist", Fiasco discusses the misconceptions of Islam in America.[4] He also addresses the issues of racism and gun culture.[21] The song had originally sampled a song by Chick Corea, but due to sampling issues, it was never cleared.[16] For example the song opens with,"We came through the storm, nooses on our necks, and a smallpox blanket to keep us warm." The album concludes with Lupe reading off an extensive appreciation list of people who helped with the album.


Food & Liquor was handled by a variety of different producers; some lesser-known such as Prolyfic, Soundtrakk, Needlz and Craig Kallman, while also having tracks produced by well-known producers such as Kanye West, Mike Shinoda and The Neptunes. On "Kick, Push", Soundtrakk provided lush strings and horns as the backdrop. Strings are prominent through the album particularly on songs such as "Hurt Me Soul", "He Say She Say", and "Daydreamin'". "Daydreamin'" contains a sample of the well-known song "Daydream in Blue" as covered by I Monster as the chorus. "American Terrorist" contains a middle-eastern style beat provided by Prolyfic. The Neptunes provided a more synth and keyboard based beat on "I Gotcha". Brandon Howard provides a lush piano loop on "Kick, Push II".[23]


The album cover of Food & Liquor was designed by Chuck Anderson and Righteous Kung Fu.[24] It was inspired by a skateboard deck Fiasco owned.[25] The cover shows Fiasco floating in air, surrounded by several items, including a Banksy postcard, Nintendo DS, a sketchbook, the Qur'an and a robot. He explained that the items were picked out carefully, as they were things he "carr[ied] around every day".[26] In the liner notes, Fiasco parodies drug dealing by replacing liquor with milk and cookies, and drive-by shootings by replacing guns with books.[4]


Critical response[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 83/100 [27]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[17]
The A.V. Club A[28]
Robert Christgau A−[29]
Entertainment Weekly B+[30]
Mojo 4/5 stars[31]
NME 7/10[32]
Pitchfork Media 7.9/10[33]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[34]
Slant Magazine 4.5/5 stars[35]
Uncut 4/5 stars[36]

Food & Liquor received widespread acclaim from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 83, based on 20 reviews.[37] Several writers lauded the lyrical content on the album.[18] Nathan Rabin of The A.V. Club praised the album, saying that Fiasco "masterfully melds his peerless storytelling gifts with his idiosyncratic passion for skateboarding, fantasy, and incisive sociopolitical commentary". He also noted that Fiasco "boldly expand[ed] the parameters of mainstream hip-hop".[28] Sarah Godfrey of The Washington Post hailed the album as a "masterpiece of responsible rap".[38] Darryl Sterdan of Jam! called the album "one of the sharpest and smartest hip-hop discs" of 2006,[21] while Andy Kellman of Allmusic argued that "Food and Liquor just might be the steadiest and most compelling rap album of 2006".[17] Stylus Magazine's Josh Love felt that it benefits greatly from Fiasco's impressive rapping and subtlety, which he found to be characteristics that are "incredibly rare in hip-hop in 2006".[39] Sean Fennessey of Pitchfork Media was less enthusiastic and said that although Fiasco's raps are abundant with "wit and double meaning", the album's biggest flaw is his inability to write memorable hooks, which are instead "blandly-sung, unmemorable couplets".[33]

Commercial performance[edit]

Food & Liquor debuted at number eight on the Billboard 200, selling 81,000 copies in its first week.[40] As of January 2008, it went on to sell 325,000 copies in the United States.[41]


The album was named best hip hop album of 2006 by several publications and was ranked within several year-end lists.[42][43][44][45] It was also one of the best-reviewed albums of 2006 at Metacritic.[46] Food & Liquor finished 34th in the voting for the Pazz & Jop, an annual critics poll run by The Village Voice.[47] Robert Christgau, the poll's creator, named it the 19th best album of the year in his own list.[48]

The album earned Fiasco three nominations at the 2007 49th Grammy Awards: Best Rap Album, Best Rap Solo Performance and Best Rap Song for "Kick, Push".[49] In 2008, "Daydreamin'" won the award for Best Urban/Alternative Performance at the 50th Grammy Awards.[50] In 2012 Complex named Food & Liquor one of the classic albums of the last decade.[51]


The first international single off the album was "Kick, Push", a love story about two misfit skateboarders. The second single in Europe was "Daydreamin'" (featuring Jill Scott) which features a sample of I Monster's cover of "Daydream in Blue." The second single in the U.S. (and the third international single) was "I Gotcha" which is produced by The Neptunes. The song's video was featured on MTV's "Making the Video." Fiasco held a poll on his MySpace profile, where fans were able to vote for which song they wanted to be made into a music video.[52]

Track listing[edit]

# Title Songwriters Producer(s) Sample(s) Length
1 "Intro" Chris & Drop
  • Note: The woman who recites the poem on the introduction is Ayesha Jaco, Lupe's sister. The same woman is also responsible for the poem in the introduction to "The Cool".
2 "Real" (Feat. Sarah Green) Lupe Fiasco/Harvey Mason/Kenny Mason/Soundtrakk Soundtrakk 4:02
3 "Just Might Be OK" (Feat. Gemini) Paul Humphrey/Fiasco/Prolyfic Prolyfic 4:24
4 "Kick, Push" Fiasco/Soundtrakk Soundtrakk
  • "Magtaksil Man Ikaw (Bolero Medley)" by Celeste Legaspi[18][53]
5 "I Gotcha" Fiasco/Pharrell Williams The Neptunes 3:58
6 "The Instrumental" (Feat. Jonah Matranga) John Gutenberger/Shaun Lopez/Fiasco/Jonah Matranga/Chris Robyn/Mike Shinoda Mike Shinoda 3:26
7 "He Say She Say" (Feat. Gemini & Sarah Green) Burt Bacharach/Hal Bowen David/Fiasco/Soundtrakk Soundtrakk 4:12
8 "Sunshine" Fiasco/Soundtrakk Soundtrakk 3:55
9 "Daydreamin'" (Feat. Jill Scott) Craig Kallman/Fiasco/Dave Mackay/Sylveer Van Holman/Raymond Vincent Craig Kallman 3:55
10 "The Cool" Fiasco/Dexter Wansel/Kanye West Kanye West 3:46
11 "Hurt Me Soul" Tony Camillo/Fiasco/Needlz/Mary Sawyer Needlz
  • "Stay with Me" by Cecil Holmes[18]
12 "Pressure" (Feat. Jay-Z) Shawn Carter/Fiasco/Mike Melvoin/Prolyfic/Bill Schnee Prolyfic 4:47
13 "American Terrorist" (Feat. Matthew Santos) Armando Corea/Fiasco/Prolyfic Prolyfic 4:40
14 "The Emperor's Soundtrack" Fiasco/Michael Schenker/Soundtrakk Soundtrakk 2:56
15 "Kick, Push II" Brandon Howard/Fiasco Brandon Howard 4:11
16 "Outro" Chris & Drop 12:13
* "Theme Music to a Drive-By" (5th Anniversary Edition Bonus Track) Prolyfic 3:04
* "Tilted" (5th Anniversary Edition Bonus Track) Needlz 3:32
* "Carrera Lu" (Feat. Prolyfic) (5th Anniversary Edition Bonus Track) Prolyfic 3:10
* "What It Do" (5th Anniversary Edition Bonus Track) Brandon Howard 4:07


As listed on Allmusic.[24]

Chart history[edit]

Chart (2006) Peak
Dutch Albums Chart[54] 74
French Albums Chart[54] 172
U.S. Billboard 200[55] 8
U.S. Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums[55] 2
U.S. Billboard Top Rap Albums[55] 1
UK Albums Chart[56] 31


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  • Whitburn, Joel (2008). Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955–2006. Record Research. ISBN 0-89820-172-1. 

External links[edit]