Inspired by battle rap, Japanese culture, and more, the upcoming album was produced by Soundtrakk and executive produced by Charles “Chill” Patton, his co-CEO of the 1st & 15th label.

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 blade 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,” and accompanying music video. 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 NPRComplexThe 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.

Stay tuned for more announcements about Lupe Fiasco and Samurai in the coming weeks.

Lupe Fiasco Announces Samurai, His Next Album, Coming June 28th via 1st & 15th / Thirty Tigers

The Legendary Lyricist Shares “Samurai,” the Pensive and Moving Title Track

Samurai tracklist:

  1. Samurai
  2. Mumble Rap
  3. Cake
  4. Palaces
  5. No. 1 Headband
  6. Bigfoot
  7. Outside
  8. Til Eternity


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