The Cool Music Poster Image

The Cool



Intelligent social commentary, some iffy content.

What parents need to know

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.

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.

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.

Families can talk 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
Parental advisory:Yes
Edited version available:Yes

This review of The Cool was written by

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


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

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

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Violent imagery, but lyrically provocative.
  • Insightful, fairly clean, and never ever boring.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

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...
What other families should know
Too much consumerism
Great messages
Great role models
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, goosebump-giving, awesome songs. This CD is too good. Parents, make an exception. Just get the edited version. It's a good one. The main word used is the N word and it isn't that frequent. Yes, there is violence, but it's all in an anti-violence message. Lupe never talks about girls in a demeaning way, more in a loving way actually. There are tiny references to drugs, but not in a bad way, and sexual references are not a problem. It's an excellent CD for those who wish to listen to good rap, instead "C" rap, or crap. Just buy it.
Kid, 11 years old April 9, 2008

good cd

it is a good cd but sometimes it can have a lot of language and/or violence. if you r smart enough to remember that that stuff isnt good it is a good cd