The Cool

Music review by
Kathi Kamen Goldmark, Common Sense Media
The Cool Music Poster Image
Intelligent social commentary, some iffy content.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 5 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

Complex messages that use visceral, violent images to make serious points about racism, sexism, and social justice.


Very violent images that ultimately have an anti-violence message. "Little Weapon" describes acts of violence committed by very young men, then makes a connection to video-games.


Sexual references are intelligent and complex ("...foreplay-less sex is/which makes me stainless/with no neck to hang the chain with/which makes me necklace-less..." "smell it on my unicorn") and will go over the heads of less sophisticated teens.


All the usual racist and four-letter words, over and over again.


A couple of brand names are mentioned (cars, clothing).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

References to liquor, champagne, and dime bags are more cynical than celebratory.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that there's a lot of explicit language on this CD ("f--k" and the "N" word are used frequently; there are many references to violence, sexism, drinking, and drugs), right alongside astute social commentary, intelligent word play, literary references, and sophisticated humor. There's an edited version, but it just doesn't have the same visceral impact as the real thing.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byphilsphan13 January 3, 2011

What hip-hop was supposed to be

Lupe uses bad language like a lot of rappers, but in almost every song he has a positive outlook on things, and doesn't sound like other rappers who are so... Continue reading
Parent of a 13 and 15-year-old Written byMycophycophyta August 21, 2009
There may be language, but I believe it needs to have language for Lupe to make his very intelligent points...
Teen, 14 years old Written byJohan April 9, 2008

WHY DON'T MORE KIDS LISTEN TO THIS? An excellent, intelligent rap CD...

Lupe Fiasco is rap for smart people. An example of dumb rap would be, say 50 cent or Lil' Wayne, Chingy. But Lupe Fiasco is amazing. Intelligent, cool, goo... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written bythe-city-council June 30, 2019

Intelligent and deep

I’ve only listened to one song on here, but I love Lupe fiasco. The song I’ve listened to, little weapon is rather violent and sad, but makes really important p... Continue reading

What's the story?

In Lupe Fiasco's sophomore CD, THE COOL, he combines many diverse influences more skillfully than most artists: provocative poetry (\"She would cry just so I could drink the tears from her eyes\" and \"Y'all please have sympathy and forgive my cool young history\"); references to literary and mythological figures (Ichabod Crane, Poseidon); cynical wake-up calls about institutional racism and unconscious sexism; and stream-of-consciousness word play. And it's all explosively performed over exquisitely produced instrumental tracks that also draw on many musical periods and influences, from soul to acid rock to standard-issue hip-hop.

Is it any good?

Fiasco has produced a witty, intelligent, cynical, and thought-provoking album. Best of all, his first unlikely target seems to be himself, as he never shies away from taking responsibility for his own actions. Although the explicit language might make some parents uncomfortable, the content is important and socially relevant enough to consider making an exception for The Cool.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about mixing smart lyrics and messages with explicit language. Do you think rappers need to have graphic lyrics to get their point across? Why or why not? Families can also talk about the first line of the CD: "They thought it was cool to burn crosses in your front lawn as they hung you from trees in your backyard." This might be a provocative introduction to a serious discussion about institutionalized racism. The song "Dumb It Down" might also be a taking-off point for serious discussion about self-esteem and finding your way in a world that can be pretty tough at times.

Music details

  • Artist: Lupe Fiasco
  • Release date: December 18, 2007
  • Labels: Atlantic, WEA
  • Genre: Hip-hop
  • Parental advisory: Yes
  • Edited version available: Yes
  • Last updated: August 11, 2015

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate