A mas­ter of his craft, Lupe Fiasco wields his pen with the dis­cip­line of a swords­man, strik­ing with delib­er­ate strokes meant to knock off-bal­ance as often as they draw blood. Today, Lupe Fiasco sharpens his focus in anti­cip­a­tion of the release of Samurai, his ninth stu­dio album. The upcom­ing album is pro­duced in full by Soundtrakk, mak­ing it their second full album col­lab­or­a­tion fol­low­ing 2022’s DRILL MUSIC IN ZION, and the first album that Lupe and Soundtrakk worked on with their long­time man­ager, and 1st & 15th co-CEO Char­ley “Chill” Pat­ton, since 2007’s The Cool.

“I some­times get tagged by my fans as not doing per­son­al records” Lupe says, but I always tell people there’s me in there if you listen closely enough. This album is one of my more per­son­al records to date. It’s not a full bio­graphy, but my per­son­al exper­i­ences are tied up in all of my music. A lot of the records are me. Some are from the POV of a char­ac­ter. and some are me. The album weaves things from my life as an artist, touch­ing on things oth­er artists go through.”

On the upcom­ing album, the vet­er­an rap­per retreats inward, to give fans one of the most per­son­al albums in his dis­co­graphy. Samurai fol­lows a loose nar­rat­ive, track­ing the career pro­gres­sion a rap­per through the battle rap cir­cuit, focus­ing on the small moments that make up the rap­per­’s career and draw­ing par­al­lels between the bat­tle­rs of today and the war­ri­ors of old. Music­ally, the new album finds Lupe delight­ing in the simple pleas­ures of assem­bling asson­ant syl­lables into play­ful and poignant nar­rat­ives. The 8‑track album is smooth, yet cereb­ral, brim­ming with ideas, but always radi­at­ing Lupe’s pure love for the art of emcee­ing and com­mit­ting him­self as a ser­vant of the rap game. Now avail­able to pre-save and pre-order on vinyl, Samurai arrives in both phys­ic­al and digit­al formats on June 28th via 1st & 15th.

“The word ‘samurai’ means to serve,” says Lupe. “My rela­tion­ship to that word has always meant that you need to be at the ser­vice of oth­er people, either in the over­all com­munity, or in this instance, the rap com­munity at large that I’ve been a part of for years.”

Along with the announce­ment of the album, Lupe shares the album’s title track, “Samurai”. A loose and soul­ful record, “Samurai” gently lopes along with a prom­in­ent drum­beat and a lilt­ing sop­rano sax lick, as Lupe dons his battle rap per­sona, attempt­ing to draw a crowd with his poet­ic devices. While the chor­us imit­ates a busk­er or car­ni­val bark­er­’s call for atten­tion, the verses dig deep­er. The first verse ana­lyzes the awk­ward rela­tion­ship between hip-hop cul­ture and high cul­ture with deft intern­al rhyme: “Big eyes look­in like skies in binoculars/Two nights live, singin’ by the opera house, but not in it/Just by it, some­what along­side it/A long silence,” he opens. The second verse tells the story of a strug­gling artist, con­trast­ing her glam­or­ous dreams with her gritty real­ity, but brim­ming with her unbroken spir­it. The warm and invit­ing “Samurai” is the per­fect intro­duc­tion to the upcom­ing album, set­ting the mood for a smooth, yet thought-pro­vok­ing jour­ney. The video, dir­ec­ted by Chris & Blaq, spot­lights Lupe as he per­forms the song in the homet­own of Chica­go, with the city’s sky­line in the dis­tance.

The upcom­ing Samurai is Lupe’s first new album since 2022’s DRILL MUSIC IN ZION, which earned crit­ic­al acclaim from NPR, Com­plex, The FADER, and many oth­ers, includ­ing Vinyl Me Please, who wrote “At their best, Lupe’s bars are as visu­ally and phon­et­ic­ally pleas­ing as popped bubble wrap.” The product of a burst of thought­ful spon­taneity, Lupe cre­ated DRILL MUSIC IN ZION over a short peri­od, diving into a folder of beats sent by Soundtrakk and emer­ging with a fully-real­ized album in just three days.

In 2023, Lupe kept busy by releas­ing tracks like “Wild Child (Remix),” a new ver­sion of his 2017 track cre­ated in col­lab­or­a­tion with Chica­go house luminary Vince Lawrence, and “Out There,” an archiv­al track from the 1st & 15th vault. The icon­ic Chica­go nat­ive also settled into his pos­i­tion as a pro­fess­or at the Mas­sachu­setts Insti­tute of Tech­no­logy, where he teaches “Rap The­ory and Prac­tice.” Bey­ond music, Lupe con­tin­ues to focus on the com­munity organ­iz­a­tions he foun­ded, includ­ing We Are M.U.R.A.L, The Neigh­bor­hood Start-Up Fund, Soci­ety of Spoken Art, and his cross-cul­tur­al con­tent ven­ture, Stu­dio SV.

Samurai track­list:
Mumble Rap
No. 1 Head­band
Til Etern­ity
Pre-order­/pre-save Samurai: HERE
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Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal

Edit­or / PR Con­sult­ant at No Bounds
Rishma Dhali­w­al has extens­ive exper­i­ence study­ing and work­ing in the music and media industry. Hav­ing writ­ten a thes­is on how Hip Hop acts as a social move­ment, she has spent years research­ing and con­nect­ing with artists who use the art form as a tool for bring­ing a voice to the voice­less. Cur­rently work­ing in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media know­ledge to I am Hip Hop and oth­er pro­jects by No Bounds.

About Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal
Rishma Dhaliwal has extensive experience studying and working in the music and media industry. Having written a thesis on how Hip Hop acts as a social movement, she has spent years researching and connecting with artists who use the art form as a tool for bringing a voice to the voiceless. Currently working in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media knowledge to I am Hip Hop and other projects by No Bounds.