Hip-hop fans who've heard Lupe Fiasco giving love to Nas' It Was Written won't be surprised by the name of this compilation. With this mixtape, Cleveland's own Commish has not only come up with another winner; he has filled in the gaps left by Fiasco's major-label release. In this case, It Was Written restores some of the playfulness drained out of Lupe's long-delayed, just-released Food & Liquor; among the 31 tracks here is a tongue-in-cheek message to the "bastards" who leaked the Chicago MC's debut online.
More important, the disc collects at least half a dozen excellent songs that illustrate Lupe's lighter side, including "Catch Me I'm Ballin'," which features the cascading keyboard hook that lit up the NBA 2K7 soundtrack, and a remixed "Sunshine" -- a nearly nerdy romantic duet with Amanda Diva that slyly notes, "Never met her before/But I think I like her like a metaphor." Lupe's been touted as Kanye without the bitter aftertaste, and It Was Written lives up to that billing.