Release date: December 2007
Lupe Fiasco's The Cool, commonly referred to as simply The Cool, is the second studio album by Chicago hip hop artist Lupe Fiasco, released on December 18, 2007 in the United States. The Cool is a loose concept album, based on a song and its titular character from his debut album Food & Liquor. The album features production from Soundtrakk, Unkle, Patrick Stump and Chris & Drop, among others. Guest appearances include Gemini, Snoop Dogg, and Matthew Santos. The album was nominated for four awards at the 2009 Grammy Awards, including Best Rap Album.
During the recording of the album, Lupe Fiasco's father died of type II diabetes, his good friend Stack Bundles died, and his business partner and mentor—Charles "Chilly" Patton—was sentenced to 44 years in prison.
When asked about the album's dark side, Lupe Fiasco replied: "Oh yeah. A lot of loss. I lost my father, I lost my business partner to prison, and I lost some friends. It was a very dark period. It still is in some aspects, but you know, I'm kind of coming out of it. But especially during the time that the album was being cooked, in my head it was a very dark kind of period."
Lupe Fiasco's The Cool expands on the story Lupe told on the track, "The Cool", from his debut album. Fiasco introduces the characters the Streets and the Game. The album tells the story of the little boy from "He Say, She Say" who grew up without a father, and the people that step in to raise him are the Streets and the Game, with The Streets playing his female love interest and The Game his father. Speaking on the concept Lupe said: "I expand on the story, I introduce two other characters, the Game and the Streets. The Streets is a female. She's like the action personification of the streets, the street life, the call of the streets. The Game is the same way. The Game is the personification of the game. The pimp's game, the hustler's game, the con man's game, whatever. Then they've got supernatural characteristics. Like the Cool, his right hand is rotted away. The only thing that rotted away was his right hand. It represents the rotting away of his righteousness, of his good. And the Streets and the Cool kind of have a love affair going on. So she's represented by this locket. And the locket has a key and it's on fire. And as a gift to the Cool on his rise to fame, she gave him the key. And the key represents the key to the Streets. So she wears a locket around her neck at all times. And the way the story goes, she has given that key to tons of people throughout time. Al Capone, Alexander the Great, whatever. She's giving them the key to the Streets. Fame and fortune — but also the prices. The Game, he's represented by a stripped-down skull, a skull with dice in his eyes and smoke coming out of his mouth. The billowing smoke is actually crack smoke. It's not a full concept album; it's more spread over like five tracks, really abstractly."
In an interview with MTV News Lupe Fiasco explained how he planned to record The Cool: "The timing is gonna be pop, pop, pop. There's gonna be a lot of setup and a lot of pre-production on this album, so it's gonna be in pieces. But the pieces won't come together, seriously, until like three weeks before it comes out. We'll probably record everything in, like, a week. So we're just gonna get it all together, map it out, have it done to a T, and then go and record. Then the fresh from the studio, fresh to mastering ... so it eliminates a lot of time and error that was surrounding my debut."
The album debuted at number fifteen on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, selling 143,407 copies in its first week; the album rose to #14 the following week. It also debuted as the #1 rap record and remained there for 9 weeks. In the UK, the album debuted at #7 due to the success of the first single, "Superstar", which reached the top 5 on the singles chart. The album was certified gold by the RIAA selling over 500,000 copies in the USA.