ALBUM REVIEWS: LUPE FIASCO and CAT POWER
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Award winning hip-popper Lupe's second album must surely cement his reputation as part of the vanguard of hip-hop's next generation. Building on the critical and commercial success of 2006 debut Food & Liquor, The Cool is brimming with radio-friendly Motown melodies which have been weaved through smooth, mid-tempo beats and anti-gun lyrics. Lupe undoubtedly has an ear for pop - current single Superstar trails Kanye West in its smooth-as-butter production, catchy chorus and engaging lyrics. But he's still credible in hip-hop circles, can spit out lines at sub-machine gun speed when needed, and here offers a handful of cool hip-pop crossovers that earn Lupe his place in the hip-pop pantheon.
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Billed as a tribute to the artists who have influenced her over the years, Jukebox's tracklist would make daunting reading for any muso-for-hire. James Brown, Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan all get the CP treatment, as do Janis Joplin and Joni Mitchell. Jukebox is an album of successful conflicts. Draping her breathy, alluring-yet-innocent vocals over a simultaneously decadent and musically frugal reinterpretation of Sinatra's New York, New York would be a case in point. Contributions from her band are well-judged and never overpowering, while she sings as if she couldn't care whether people compare her excellent takes with the originals - thereby, conversely, stamping her own identity all over them.
- STEPHEN MOORE