Jay-Z called it a breath of fresh air; I'm calling it what the game's been missing: Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor, judging from the advance that's leaked, is an outside-the-box masterwork of hiphop music. Neither "traphop," "snaphop," nor "music for the advancement of hiphop," it's just a dope album that's thoughtful, blindingly smart, and packed with enough lyrical swagger and great production for heads of all inclinations. Lupe's quick wit and mercurial delivery stand out among '06 rap's bludgeoning bars of coke-rap obviousness and signature ad libs; his mature, poetic take on matters large and small—war, skating, inner-city strife, god, and consumer culture—is smarter than the underground's sharpest. Which presents Fiasco's predicament: Is he too backpack for Top 40 heads, and too chummy with Kanye and Jay-Z (F&L's executive producer) to appeal to backpackers? I hope that people aren't so caught up in what they think is dope that they end up missing a great album. I also hope that the album's leak won't get Food & Liquor pushed back to Nevuary. I promise, I will buy the shit! Scout's honor.

Man, we got a grip of good shows comin' up. First, catch Cancer Rising, Macklemore, and Abyssinian Creole live on an all-hiphop version of KEXP's Audioasis on Saturday, April 29, at 7 pm. Then, just when you're madly itching to see some local shit live, on Sunday, April 30, the Teen Dance Ordinance Pre-Show goes down at Chop Suey, with Common Market, Cancer Rising, Macklemore, and Abyssinian Creole. What you know about that? It's an all-ages affair and stick around, 'cause immediately afterward you get the Teen Dance Ordinance Party (whose tagline is "Dance Like You Couldn't in 1999"—burn!) featuring one of the illest, most respected and sought-after b-boy crews in the world: Massive Monkees (joined by DJs Bles One and Element).

Don't tire yourself out too much leaning and rocking with it, though, because the night after that, one of L.A.'s most consistent and respected crews, People Under the Stairs, bless the Chop with Time Machine, Gym Class Heroes, and Psalm 1. Rest your tired ass one night, then bring it back to the Chop on Wednesday, May 3, to see Blueprint and RJD2, the Rhymesayers Entertainment duo known as Soul Position. Their newest, Things Go Better with RJ & Al, continues the chemistry of Print's reliably relatable rants over RJ's funky, rocked-out craziness; check Blueprint's concise musings on hiphop's wasted equity on "Hand-Me-Downs": "Rap nowadays is by a bunch of ignorant cats/No young, gifted, and black, just guns, bitches, and crack." As if you ain't know.

Okay, Saturday, April 29, I'm gonna be watching my all-time favorite rapper rock the Showbox. I don't care what any moron in this paper or elsewhere says: Ice Cube is one of the greatest of all fucking time. The ass whipping from Threat, the unfortunate magician outfits, Are We There Yet?—none of it affects my undying love for one O'Shea Jackson. Plus, the reunited Dogg Pound? Holy Westside, Batman! It's like '95 all over again!