We haven't stopped listening to this record since its early drop last week. Part of the reason is the rubik's-cube-like complexity of practically every line, leaving us Googling names and researching meanings and metaphors. It’s the sort of album you need to really sit down and pay attention to, and for us it required multiple listens before the vibe truly set in and became clear.
Drogas Wave is something of a concept album about a group of slaves that fell off ships into the Atlantic Ocean, passing away from their earthly life but given a new life under and on the waves. This community of "Long Chains" spend their days sinking slave ships and ushering captives back to freedom. An inspiring Tolkien-esque mythology, to be sure.
Even the cover art had us scratching our heads as it first appears to be some sort of abstract modern art. We'd eventually find out that it's a picture of "manilla" (which is casting a shadow), a West African bracelet used as money, that eventually came to be used to purchase slaves. Lupe apparently now collects these bracelets and they were part of the inspiration for the project itself.
The highlight for us is the heartwrenching "Alan Forever," which imagines an alternative world for three-year-old Syrian refugee Alan Kurdi. Alan (along with his mother and brother) passed in 2015 when on their way across the Mediterranean Sea in an inflatable raft. They were ultimately headed to Canada, where they had family, but their raft capsized and Alan's body was found on the Turkish shore.
The waves can be your cover, the beach can be your pillow
My heart can be your house, my eyes can be your windows
To teach you how to swim and then we'll play Nintendo
Beating all of your friends, dancing to the tempo
Go Alan, go Alan...
We're not yet certain if this is our favorite project from Mr. Wasalu Muhammad Jaco, who we consider a definite GOAT contender, but it's immediately in that conversation. This is also easily Lupe's best produced album, and it has a feeling of being the most magnificent or immense, which is perhaps down the the sheer amount (and length) of its tracks.
This one's not leaving the rotation for some time...