Lupe Fiasco – Lasers

Released March 8, 2011

Track Listing

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)

Review

Ever since 2007’s The Cool, fans and critics alike have been anticipating Lupe Fiasco’s next album Lasers. Out of much controversy, Lasers was finally released. As a Lupe Fiasco fan myself, I was just as excited when this album came out. Hell, I even signed that petition to have Atlantic give a release date and actually push this album to the public. But when I listened to the album, I couldn’t help but be bugged. Lasers felt weird. Then I realized, that “weirdness” was the feeling that this album isn’t that good.

The album doesn’t have that Lupe Fiasco quality stamp. I became a fan of Lupe because he was able to combine golden-era lyricism with a mainstream soundscape.  He walked that fine line. He walked it extremely well. He could have the same amount of poetry in one verse that equals the same amount of poetry of other hip hop songs. His poetic genius still appears this time around, but it’s not ubiquitous like his previous works.

There is nothing wrong at all with the musical direction Lupe took for Lasers. Songs like I Don’t Want To Care Right now and Never Forget You can easily be someone’s summer jam. I feel that he went too far in that direction, causing his lyrics to take a hit. The album has a less-focused Lupe. Take Words I Never Said:

I really think the War on Terror is a bunch of bullshit/
Just a poor excuse for you to use up all your bullets/
How much money does it take to really make a full clip/
9/11 building 7 did they really pull it?/
Hold on, and a bunch of other cover ups/
Your child’s future was the first to go with budget cuts/
If you think that hurts then, wait here comes the uppercut/
The school was garbage in the first place, that’s on the up and up/
Keep you at the bottom but tease you with the upper-crust/
You get it then they move it so you never keeping up enough/
If you turn on TV all you see’s a bunch of “what the fucks”/
Dude is dating so and so, blabbering bout such and such/
And that ain’t Jersey Shore, homie that’s the news/

Lupe has always shown his sociological and political awareness. It’s something the public has seen in recent times. While poignant, it’s straightforward. It doesn’t combine his gift of gab with that same awareness. Compare that verse to the second verse off American Terrorist off his debut album Food and Liquor:

Now the poor Klu Klux man see that we’re all brothers/
Not cause things are the same, because we lack the same color/
And that’s green, now that’s mean/
Can’t burn his cross, cause he can’t afford the gasoline/
Now if a Muslim woman strapped with a bomb on a bus/
With the seconds running give you the jitters?/
Just imagine an American-based Christian organization,/
Planning to poison water supplies to bring the Second Coming quicker/
Nigga, they ain’t living properly/
Break ‘em off with a little democracy/
Turn their whole culture to a mockery/
Give ‘em Coca-Cola for their property/
Give ‘em gum, give ‘em guns, get ‘em young, give ‘em fun/
But if they ain’t giving it up, then they ain’t getting none/
And don’t give ‘em all, naw man, just give ‘em some/
It’s the paper, some of these cops must be Al Queda/

Examine Out Of My Head featuring Trey Songz, one of the two love songs from Lasers. Comparing that to previous love songs from Lupe like Sunshine and Paris, Tokyo, the quick-witted and energetic Lupe doesn’t appear on Out Of My Head. This is a common theme throughout the album.

He has everything going his way on the album. More buzz surrounding the album, the production to appeal to a much bigger audience than his loyal fan base, and a manifesto declaring “We want substance in the place of popularity” but Lasers doesn’t follow through.

There are a few shining qualities on Lasers. The lead single The Show Goes On, is a type of Lupe Fiasco song that the public knows he can produce. The single has went platinum–selling over 1 million units– proving it has the mainstream appeal. It also has the lyricism to put it over the top:

One In the air for people ain’t here/
Two in the air for the father that’s there/
Three in the air for the kids in the ghetto/
Four for the kids that don’t wanna be there/
None for the niggas tryna hold them back/
Five in the air for the teacher not scared/
To tell those kids that’s leaving in the ghetto/
That the niggaz holding back/
That the world is theirs/

He sounds energized and focused on The Show Goes On. Sure it’s still rather to the point, but it has those poetic devices that Lupe has implored over his career. The same thing occurs again with the most lyrical song off Lasers, All Black Everything. It’s a “What If” song, exploring what would have happened if the African American community was treated equality from the start:

Uh, and we ain’t get exploited/
White man ain’t feared so he did not destroy it/
We ain’t work for free, see they had to employ it/
Built it up together so we equally appointed/
First 400 years, see we actually enjoyed it/
Constitution written by W.E.B. Du Bois/
Were no reconstructions, civil war got avoided/
Little black sambo grows up to be a lawyer/
Extra extra on the news stands/
Black woman voted head of Ku Klux Klan/

Lasers’ best moments are too far and in-between, and those moments aren’t that stellar. But all musical acts no matter what genre I think are allowed one bad album.

There are good things here that Lupe can use for this next album. Lupe is intelligent enough to know what to take from Lasers and what to leave behind. If you want to purchase this album (I do realize that this review is months after the release so the decision has probably already been made) keep in mind that your money is a vote of confidence that Lupe can bounce back.

Written by TOZ

TOZ

TOZ is Selective Hearing’s resident Urban music aficionado. He also has a keen interest in K-Pop, sneakers, Star Trek and long walks on the beach.

  • brian

    Lupe has gone on record denouncing Laser and has said that he was “forced to do Show Goes On.

    Whether his claim is true or it was his reaction to releasing a subpar album, well, who can really tell?

    But yah, weak album. I’m hoping Lupe isn’t going to end up another artist that falls off after early success (See: Nas).