Fiasco's major-label debut, Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor, blends together the best parts of De La Soul, the Coup, and A Tribe Called Quest. Raised a Muslim, he has a biting sociopolitical conscience; on "American Terrorist," he draws parallels between blankets spiked with smallpox, lynchings, and projectile airliners. Meanwhile, "Kick, Push" -- one of the summer jams of '06 -- tells the story of a dedicated urban skateboarder, over a gleaming, Filipino-jazz trumpet sample.
All-star guests include soul-siren Jill Scott (on the poignant, string-backed ghetto lament "Daydream"), phenom rapper-producer kanYe West (the anti-thug tale "The Cool"), and even Jay-Z, who rhymes over a Thelma Houston sample on "Pressure." Like the rest of the disc, it's smart rap with soul.