Lupe Fiasco - "The Instrumental" x "After All" (feat. Talib Kweli)

I'm giving you fair warning.  I'm about to nerd out in a major way...

As I prepare to take my final exam of the school year in psychology, I felt obligated to discuss this gem off of Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor.  With the melodic sample of Far's "Nestle" and the captivating, surrealistic chorus courtesy of Boston singer Jonah Matranga, this Mike Shinoda-produced song places the listener in the midst of a futuristic dreamscape that provides Lupe the perfect canvas on which to present the hallucinations and delusions of the unnamed, seemingly paranoid schizophrenic, narrator.

Lupe has acknowledged that in reality, "The Instrumental" is an extended metaphor for society's addiction to television (and the consumerist tendencies which it promotes).  In this light, "The Instrumental" illuminates one of the greatest dilemmas in the field of psychology: how do we define what constitutes a mental disorder?  Can we classify an individual as having a mental disorder if their "disorder" expresses itself through a culturally-accepted behavior?  We classify the "abnormal" as something that differs significantly from (supposedly normal) culturally-accepted values.  In past renditions of psychology's diagnostic manuel, this has resulted in characteristics such as homosexuality as disorders.  "The Instrumental" flips this system on it's head, asking whether or not it is truly the individual or society as a whole that is crazy and if we have the legitimate right to define precisely define what reality should mean for other people.

As a bonus, I've included "After All," a song off of Tapemasters Inc.'s unofficial 2008 mixtape, Follow The Leader (also linked at the bottom), which does a phenomenal job of compiling/remixing both Lupe's hits as well as several of the unheard songs in his discography.  This song is perhaps the best example of the high quality of the music found on the tape as it provides us with and excellent mash-up of lyrics from Lupe's "Just Might Be OK," Talib Kweli & DJ Hi-Tek's "Good Mourning" and places the deadly concoction over an entirely new, enthralling, synth-based instrumental.

For those of you who are fans of the Chicago native, Follow The Leader is a must download, especially as the world continues to wait on the release of his highly anticipated third work, Lasers.  Lupe has commented that the album is complete and that finds it disappointing that Atlantic has not yet set a release date.  Without hope of a Lasers release in the foreseeable future, hip hop heads will have to make due with the current Lupe discography.  Thankfully, there is no dearth of high quality songs from both his official projects and countless unofficial mixtapes.

Peace, Love, & Finals,

Follow The Leader:

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