By Tenedra Bafford

Lupe Fiasco is back, and his new album has, unfortunately (for him), leaked. And for hip-hop heads who have been waiting for his fourth album, Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 1., which is scheduled for release Sept. 25, this comes as an unexpected surprise.

Lupe’s bouncing back from his third studio album, Lasers, about which he was highly criticized for being too commercial and not the lyrical, storytelling, conscious rapper that he had shown himself to be on his first two albums. And now, with the release of his single, “Bitch Bad,” he is being criticized for taking the socially conscious rap style too far.

Spin’s Brandon Soderberg criticized Fiasco for “mansplaining” the word bitch. He says, “Its hook goes, ‘Bitch bad, woman good, lady better,’ which sounds sweet and all, but does any female want to be called ‘a lady?'”

But as true Fiasco fans know, the word “bitch” has been relevant to Fiasco since his first album, Food & Liquor, was released six years ago. In “Hurt Me Soul,” Lupe not only proved that he was a lyrical genius, but he also discussed the word “bitch” for the first time:

“I used to hate hip-hop, yup, because the women degraded/ But too short made me laugh, like a hypocrite I played it/ A hypocrite, I stated, though I only recited half/ Omitting the word “bitch”, cursing – I wouldn’t say it
/ Me and dog couldn’t relate, ‘till a bitch I dated/ Forgive my favorite word for hers and hers alike/ But I learned it from a song I heard and sort of liked.”

What Fiasco has always done, and what he has already done with this new album release, is spark conversation. He uses hip-hop to confront hip-hop issues, and that’s what makes him one of a kind.

In “ITAL (Roses)” Fiasco raps, “I know you saying ‘Lupe rapping bout the same shit,’ well, that’s cause ain’t shit changed, bitch.”

Hip-hop may not be changing, but Fiasco hasn’t changed either. He is still a lyrical beast, proving it on songs such as “Form Follows Function,” “Strange Fruition feat. Casey Benjamin,” and “Brave Heart feat. Poo Bear.” He switches things up and raps about love on “Battle Scars feat. Guy Sebastian,” and gets personal with “Cold War feat. Jane.” Undoubtedly, this is one of Fiasco’s best and it allows listeners to witness his growth.

The album cover is completely black and may allude to the fact that after Fiasco releases Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Pt. 2, he may be done with hip hop for good.