A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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.