Rapper Lupe Fiasco embodies multiple characters and concepts on his sophomore album, "Lupe Fiasco's The Cool," due Dec. 18 via 1st and 15th/Atlantic.

Rapper Lupe Fiasco embodies multiple characters and concepts on his sophomore album, "Lupe Fiasco's The Cool," due Dec. 18 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.

Fiasco makes at least two allusions to quitting the music business after one more album, "LUP End," but he ends "The Cool" on an up-tempo note with "Go Baby Go." "Congratulations ladies, this one's for you," he says.

"The Cool" is the follow-up to last year's "Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor," which spawned the Grammy-nominated single "Kick, Push."

Here is the track list for "Lupe Fiasco's The Cool":

Iesha Poem
"Free Chilly"
"Go Go Gadget Flow"
"The Coolest"
"Superstar" featuring Mathew Santos
"Paris Tokyo"
"High Definition" featuring Snoop Dogg and Pooh Bear
"Little Weapon"
"Hip-Hop Saved My Life" featuring Nikki Jean
"Gold Watch"
"Street on Fire" featuring Mathew Santos
"Hello Goodbye"
"Gotta Eat"
"Dumb It Down" featuring Gemini and Graham Burris
"The Die" featuring Gemini
"Put You on Game"
"Fighters" featuring Mathew Santos
"Go Baby Go"

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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