Rapper Lupe Fiasco embodies multiple characters and concepts on his sophomore album, "Lupe Fiasco's The Cool," due this week via 1st and 15th/Atlantic.

Rapper Lupe Fiasco embodies multiple characters and concepts on his sophomore album, "Lupe Fiasco's The Cool," due this week via 1st and 15th/Atlantic. Among the characters are Michael Young History, the Game (described as "a male personification of a hustler's damaging influences") and the Streets ("a female embodiment of an urban area's corrupt allure").

Throughout, dark production by Soundtrakk, UNKLE and Chris and Drop enhances the weighty themes, particularly on "Street on Fire" (about a burgeoning epidemic) and "Put You on Game." Among the few guests are Snoop Dogg, who turns up on "High Definition," while Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump serves as the producer of "Little Weapons."

A number of tracks diverge from the conceptual theme, including "Gold Watch" and "Paris Tokyo," on which Fiasco longs for a simpler life atop a jazzy backing track with shades of A Tribe Called Quest. Perhaps the oddest song is "Gotta East," which is apparently written from the perspective of a cheeseburger and is rife with food/life metaphors.

"I don't define myself by this industry's standards," says Fiasco. "I have a core fan base of about 200,000 people, so I'm fairly comfortable that I can sell 200,000 if it takes me a year-and-a-half."

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