Lupe Fiasco – Lasers

written by: March 24, 2011
Lupe Fiasco - Lasers Album Cover Release Date: March 8, 2011


Lupe Fiasco is trapped by his label and he can’t get out. The F’n’F ruler wanted three albums and then to be done with it—Warner wanted more. Despite a resounding Twitter petition to grant the man peace, to let him release LupE.N.D., the bigwigs didn’t flinch. So Lasers is not the final chapter, and maybe that’s good news, but it’s still heartbreaking to see an artist chained to a contract, while the money mongers yell, “Rap for us, now! More! More!”

Given the situation, Fiasco still managed to carve something out. Rather than concede and half-ass the difference, he’s determined to let the show the go on, even if it is painfully obvious how he feels, “Have you ever had the feeling that you was bein’ had/Don’t that shit just make you mad/They treat you like a slave/Put chains all on your soul/And put whips up on your back.” Lupe told Details, “It was a painful, fucked-up process,” compiling and recording the album; he battled the label as well as his own feelings of failure to create Lasers.

The album has shades of classic Lupe (songs like, “Till I Get There” and “All Black Everything”) but for the most part heralds a fierce departure.

Sarah Green helps open the album, not with spoken word, but soaring vocals on the final chorus of “Letting Go,” in accurate foreshadowing, it really feels like Lupe’s, “running out of soul.” Matthew Santos is conspicuously absent and the album no longer bears the conceptual unity of The Cool or Food and Liquor. Rather than relax his tone, he makes what might be his most confrontational piece yet. In “Words I Never Said,” he slams the war on terror, admits he didn’t and won’t vote for Obama, stands up for Jihad, slams Israeli occupation and tops it all off by warning, “Listening to Pac, ain’t gonna make it stop.”

Lasers (Love Always Shines Every Time Remember 2 Smile) thunders above the pillars of his previous albums. There’s an urgency to it that far transcends the laid back urban sailing of Food and Liquor and The Cool. It’s a darker, more vicious jaunt—if it’s more pop sensible that’s only because the futuristic smoke and “lasers” theme won’t let it be. Lupe makes it sound easy—maybe too easy, like he’s simply embedded in the vein of popular consciousness. If you’re worried about the piercing, punctilious flow losing step—the one that HOV hailed as “refreshing hip-hop” and earned him a spot in rap supergroup CRS—worry not. It’s not the verse he drops but what he drops it over that seems to be problem.

Trey Songz has a surprisingly on-point contribution with “Out of My Head,” one of the few hooks that feels genuine and not overbearing. British MC Sway hops on “Break the Chain” with Eric Turner languishing in the clubby chorus.

But for all the nuance and sharp darts of the early album, it noticeably slumps off and, in an attempt to sound more future forward, ends up sounding more dumbed down and club-like.

The tremendous irony of “State Run Radio,” where Fiasco spits, “Different is never good/Good is only what we pick/You ain’t gotta hear unless it sounds like these did,” is by then the album starts sounding as hackneyed as the airwaves. From its auspicious opening, Lasers falls off, resorting to corny electro hooks and half-baked R&B choruses. Granted, the album would belie its namesake if it didn’t at least once delve into dancefloor but Lupe should know by now that he doesn’t have to. His relentless, dazzling lyricism stands alone.

Lupe Fiasco Lasers Tracklist:

  1. “Letting Go”
  2. “Words I Never Said”
  3. “Till I Get There”
  4. “I Don’t Wanna Care Right Now”
  5. “Out of My Head”
  6. “The Show Goes On”
  7. “Beautiful Lasers (2 Ways)”
  8. “Coming Up”
  9. “State Run Radio”
  10. “Break the Chain”
  11. “All Black Everything”
  12. “Never Forget You”