Feb. 101. Lupe Fiasco, “Drogas Light”Lupe has been going through some shit lately, and it’s honestly surprising that this album is even seeing the light of day. Originally a part of a trilogy including two other albums titled “DROGAS” and “SKULLS,” “Drogas Light” comes at the end of a huge amount of controversy after a freestyle that was criticized as being anti-Semitic. Regardless, the dude is one of the more interesting rappers working today, jumping from soul beats on “Wild Child” to intense trap beats on “JUMP.” If you were a fan of “Food and Liquor,” you might be disappointed by the seeming lack of “conscious raps,” but still give it a shot.
2. Lift To Experience, “Texas Jerusalem Crossroads”“Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads” tells the story of three Texas boys minding their own business when an angel of the Lord comes to them and tells them that Texas is the center of Jerusalem. I was introduced to this album and band by my good friend Chuck, and it is one of the strangest listening experiences in a long time. At once a post-rock opus, an experiment in noise, and a gorgeous album as meandering as the dusty roads of East Texas. Stylistically, it fits between Mogwai, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Low, and those evangelical super church preachers. If you like weird and epic, you should definitely pay attention. No one listened when it first released in 2001, and now you have a chance to pretend you were cool 16 years ago.
3. Tinariwen, “Elwan”Tinariwen are a group of Tuareg musicians from the Saharan region of Mali. They play a beautiful blend of guitar-driven blues and Tishoumaren, a North African genre that is itself a blend of electric blues and traditional African percussion and stylings. They have slowly become one of my favorite “world music” groups, and the new album “Elwan” is a great example of why. The slow but churning rhythms move anyone with a soul and production-wise it is full but dry, just like the Sahara.
4. Thievery Corporation, “Temple of I and I”Another local favorite, Thievery Corporation is a band that can wear many masks. At times a dub powerhouse, at other times dancehall geniuses, and even still they can do subdued soundtracks with the best of them. I would not call the new album subdued at all, though. It eases into the reverb-drenched dub with the track “Thief Rockers” before blasting into some bombastic reggae with vocals from scene-newcomer Racquel Jones. Someone looking for island vibes in this weird-cold but not cold winter we’re having will feel right at home in this one.