Lupe Fiasco - Lasers

Album cover
Alt-Pop, Hip-hop
Atlantic Records
Lupe Fiasco
Lasers
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It was only a matter of time. But really, did it have to be Lupe? Couldn't Atlantic Records have picked a more divisive, less talented artist to make an example out of? Furthermore was their apprehension to release Lasers at all rooted in the fact that it was Lupe's “retirement” record? A going-away pat on the butt for Lup as he begrudgingly strolls through the exit doors? Because by all accounts the supremely saccharine club-ready proto-house of Lupe's third proper full-length is about as genuine as yellow number 5. Collecting all applicable radio-perfect cliches from top 40 hip-hop over the past five years Lasers and subsequently, Lupe Fiasco, are ripe and ready for air-wave saturation and unruly fan base disposition. Possessing corny club beats, shaky auto-tuned hooks and an almost defeated persona—Lasers presents a Lupe Fiasco content with pandering to the charts en route to an obvious pay-day. Yet Fiasco's touch is almost non-existent. Beyond his own panning of the final product and the year it took his label to finally release the album (after the much publicized fan petition to Atlantic for release) Lasers is almost devoid of anything that made Fiasco such a compelling artist in the first place. Outside of his exceptional flow (which on most of Lasers is surprisingly half-assed) and talent with his pen; nothing about Lasers exhibits that forward thinking, socially conscious, politically vicious demeanor Lup had crafted for himself with Food & Liquor (2006) and continued with The Cool (2007). Or at least enough to make you forget about all the shit beats and production choices.

Want to know how long it took Atlantic to release Lasers? Lupe dropped a mixtape (Enemy Of The State: A Love Story (2009)) and a post-punk album with his other band Japanese Cartoon and began recording a follow-up in the form of Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album. No seriously. There was that much time wasted. Wasted so we could hear piddling attempts at striking it rich like the poor man's house of “The Words I Never Said” complete with a Skyler Grey hook that sounds suspiciously similar to her work on Dr. Dre's “I Need a Doctor.” The epic rap-rock buffoonery of “State Run Radio.” Or the three tracks featuring a guy called MDMA that not only sound pretty much exactly like what you figure they would from an artist named such—but play the three simultaneously and the insurmountable task becomes less simply just making it through and more so just trying to tell the fucking difference. Worst is, two of them are right next to each other on the track list—a huge misstep by whomever had the final say—as the two songs essentially bleed into one all around insufferable sophomoric attempt at blending trance and house together with hip-hop. And not only are there a slew of artist doing this much better (G-Side and Drake in specific) but Lupe is blatantly aware he's peddling a lackluster product.

Do not get me wrong, Lasers is not a complete waste of time and the songs that possess a level of integrity (“Till I Get There,” “Out Of My Head,” “The Show Goes On,” “I'm Beaming” and “All Black Everything”) are not simply serviceable songs—they would be welcome singles for a popular-radio landscape almost too comfortable with its current supremely-club-friendly transgressions. Yet with all of Lasers' possibilities, or at least what seemed possible a year ago when Lupe released “I'm Beaming,” the final product fails to live up to even a semblance of what we have come to expect from Lupe. What is even more discouraging is just how much he tried to release something worth the wholehearted effort of his fans. Yet what we've been left with, thanks to Atlantic, is a remedial piece of electro-pop trash too simplistic to even hand a brazen “electronica” tag to. But as Lasers is set to top two-hundred thousand copies moved in its first week one thing is assured: Atlantic will get their fucking payday. Now let us see if Lupe can be afforded his much deserved grand exit. As Lasers, no matter how much it tries, can attest only to being little more than an hour or so of proof that ego can, in all truth, be the death of artistry. Better luck next time Lupe. Do not worry though, even after Lasers, we will all still be waiting with bated breath.

1. Letting Go (Feat. Sarah Green)
2. Words I Never Said (Feat. Skylar Grey)
3. Till I Get There
4. I Don’t Wanna Care Right Now (Feat. MDMA)
5. Out Of My Head (Feat. Trey Songz)
6. The Show Goes On
7. Beautiful Lasers, (Two Ways) (Feat. MDMA)
8. Coming up (Feat. MDMA)
9. State Run Radio (Feat. Matt Mahaffey)
10. Break The Chain (Feat. Eric Turner & Sway)
11. All Black Everything
12. Never Forget You (Feat. John Legend)

Wasalu Muhammad Jaco (born February 16, 1982 in Chicago, Illinois), better known by his stage name Lupe Fiasco, is a Grammy Award-winning American hip-hop artist and producer. He first became known to the mainstream hip-hop community in 2005 when he appeared on Kanye West's album Late Registration on the track "Touch the Sky." In 2006 Lupe released his debut album, Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor on Atlantic Records, and in December 2007 he released his second full length album, Lupe Fiasco's The Cool. His next studio album, entitled Lasers, was released on March 8th 2011.

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