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Lupe Fiasco Drill Music in Zion

One of hip-hop’s finest writers delivers an album that paints an entirely new picture in their collection of work.

Released: 24 June 2022
Drill Music in Zion

Drill Music in Zion’s artwork is a jacket containing pieces of the Grammy-award winning rapper. The painting, by Lupe Fiasco himself, can be described as a drill, and the album carries out what Ayesha Jaco says in its intro, “Drill down; Zion is in you,” to become what is one of the most seamless bodies of work in the rapper’s discography.

Here, Lupe Fiasco digs inwards. The enlistment of longtime collaborator Soundtrakk is the craftsman drawing for trustworthy hardware in his excavation. The result is a clean unearthing of self, where each track is placed on the tray that is Soundtrakk’s production before being washed and arranged to give us his eighth studio album. It is without baggage; the glimmering production is the perfect frame for Lupe’s voice and lyrical choices.

No track shows us the completeness of this process more than ‘Ms. Mural’, a patient song that intelligently paints the rapper’s frustration with the state of art. This is an album where Lupe uses space: his most memorable verse of all time may now be the one where he says the least (‘On Faux Nem’). With ‘Precious Things’ he allows room for the instrumental to sink in, for his bars to weigh and for Nayirah to bring the song into excellence. The titular track too is a jazz-like, soulful approach to rap that feels like a new colour in the artist’s palette. It’s one used across the album, and fans will hope he continues to employ it in the future.

‘Autobots’ is another special track that possesses the colourful creativity that captured the minds of so many young listeners on Food & Liquor. The execution is musically advanced in tone and approach, giving it a futuristic quality. It’s another route that, if the Chicago native was to continue with it, would undoubtedly lead to entertaining music.

Lupe’s search for Zion within reveals brilliant moments of positivity, namely on ‘Naomi’ and ‘Seattle’. The production on ‘Naomi’ is bliss, while ‘Seattle’, which will be a favourite track on the album for many, is an uplifting number and a distinctive, almost candle-like glow in the rapper’s catalogue. It’s refreshing – a reminder of Lupe’s ability to reassure, which may have been dampened by events in and outside music, but this quality flickers throughout the record in a way that it hasn’t done since his debut.

Where Lupe goes with Soundtrakk following Drill Music is unknown, but if this album is any indication, it will be somewhere glorious and a road that takes him closer to discovering his own musical kingdom. This album reminds current fans of why they have held him dear for so long, and it allows new ones to experience how the ‘Kick, Push’ star made so many of us smile, (“You were Vampire Hunter D, now you Alucard”) think, (“Rappers die too much”) and learn (“When heaven loses a job, hell wins staff”).