In continuing with our weeklong celebration of Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor, we all decided to write a review of our favorite song from the album.
“But AJ, Theme Music to a Drive-By isn’t on the album”
You are technically right. It was, however a bonus track on the fifth anniversary edition AND was the intro to the Original version of this album. Yes, the original version. For those of you who may not know, the version of FnL we all know and love is not the original version. The original leaked and was shelved, leading to Lupe’s hatred of piracy (read about this in Ron’s review of Pressure). The leak forced Lupe to redo and change a lot of songs on this album. Several, including this one, did not make the cut either due to sample clearance issues or just no longer fitting the album (if you’ve never heard the original, use the magic of the internet and locate it, it’s better than the retail version, which is a classic).
Theme Music to a Drive-By is one of my favorite songs by Lupe, which is saying something. Lupe puts on a lyrical clinic all while switching between topics like describing breaking down a blunt and smoking it, over 4 bars, to making references to Batman and the Ninja Turtles as an allegory to the criminal underworld. What makes these lyrical acrobatics so impressive, is the effortlessness with which Lu performs them. None of the bars are forced, they all fit and not bar is a filler simply to set up the next, he makes use of every single syllable in this record. Lupe drops complex bars that require a little more thought and simple ones like “It’s harder than sittin’ with a blind man and tryna describe yellow” all while painting a picture.
The second verse, in typical Lu fashion, shifts from veiled talk of criminal acts to more of a backpack/conscious stance when he talks about the simultaneous guilt and pride of owning a diamond studded chain and how owning one can change others’ perception of you. He ends the verse by describing, in code, some game he was given by his mentor, in jail for life, about how to rule, avoiding the pitfalls of fools and the obstacles that await him on his journey
Listen as I get schooled to the rules to rule
The Fuel of fools, the obstacles to cool
Had to slow it down homie
Chopped and screwed
He said “Blow it down for me
Sticks and stones make the homes
Only God’s words can stop the wolves
And don’t fraternize with pigs then kids will think ya stool”
Not at the bar but tryin to put him behind the bar like a bartender
He laid the law like the bar so I put it in a bar for dude
He said borrow my jewels and bar the fools
Cuz they’ll play ya like the space bar in tools
Theme music to a drive-by, put it in your car and cruise
Blow the game down. Only God can stop those bent on harming you, even in your home. Don’t fuck with police. Take what I left behind and run with it. Keep the fools out, lest they make a fool of you and make some dope ass music to kill the game to.
Words to live by.