Lupe Fiasco – LASERS
Released: 7 March 2011
Letting Go (featuring Sarah Green): 3.75/5 (shades of Kanye West)
Words I Never Said (featuring Skylar Gray): 4/5
Till I Get There: 4/5 (please note that this is the only track produced by one of Lupe’s original guys, Needlz, and it’s arguably the best track on the album. Coincidence? I think not.)
I Don’t Wanna Care Right Now: 2.75/5 (Lupe’s flow is more on point here than on any other song on the album, but his lyrics are mediocre, and the hook is the beginning of an annoying MDMA filled rest-of-the-album.)
Out Of My Head: 3.75/5 (hated this song at first, but it isn’t too bad once you get over the fact that Trey Songz is on a Lupe album instead of Matthew Santos, this should be a great single.)
The Show Goes On: 3.25/5
Beautiful Lasers (2 Ways) (featuring MDMA): 2.5/5
Coming Up (feat MDMA): 3.75/5 (the most solid track on this album, undeniable. Some mAy fault the preacher-like drawl on “All Black Everything”, some may talk down on the hooks of “Words I Never Said” and “State Run Radio”. Others may say the piano on “Till I Get There” is overkill. This is the only song on the album that I feel is undeniably average-good, nothing less. The beat is nice, hook is nice, Lupe is nice – it doesn’t sound forced like the rest of MDMA tracks on this album)
State Run Radio (feat Matt Mahaffey): 4.5/5
Break The Chain (feat Eric Turner & Sway): 2/5 (Random, terrible guest feature.)
All Black Everything: 4.25/5
Never Forget You (feat John Legend): 3.5/5
Total: 3.5/5 (Average-Pretty Good)
The main problem with Lupe Fiasco’s LASERS is….Lupe Fiasco. Strange right? Lupe is the cancer to his own album – but not because he’s laying eggs lyrically – because of who he is and what he has already established. And the immense pressure he’s under to ensure that Lasers is on that same level, or better, than his previous albums.
On previous Lupe albums, listeners were treated to stories that revolved around the overall theme of the album (ala the drug and Michael Young History motifs on The Cool). We got production from 1st & 15th household names like Soundtrakk and Needlz, with occasional spots by Kanye West, Pharrell, and The Neptunes. Listeners were also spoiled by amazing lyricism that places Lupe amongst the lyrical greats in Rap history – with each line having multiple meanings, extended metaphors, all coupled within an unorthodox, unique, and addicting flow.
On Lasers, however, listeners didn’t receive any of that. The initial “Losers/Lasers” theme initially planned for the album falls flat, presumably lost in the tumultuous rollout with Atlantic Records.
Giving Lupe the benefit-of-the-doubt
On Lasers, there are features by a bunch of unknowns to Lupe’s discography (aside from F&F’s Sarah Green and affiliate John Legend) and the production is largely Pop/Rap (which is polar opposite Lupe’s underground-leaning, lyrical elitist fanbase). Features from pop sensations like Trey Songz don’t help the cause either (although I like the song!).
As a Lupe fan prior to Lasers, it’s easy to play this album and be disgusted by everything you hear simply because it doesn’t fit what Lupe does. It’s also easy to be angered by this album because you waited over a year of delays, petition, and protests to receive it. However, by letting those factors weigh on how you rate this album, you not only cheat the album for getting the praise it deserves (even if it’s small), but you also look like an pretentious jackass in the process. 🙂
Yes, the production on Lasers leans heavily towards pop. No – the production is not bad. The album does have its fair share of mediocrity with production, but it also has highlights, as seen on “Till I Get There”, with its piano ridden loop, and the inspiring melody and infectious synths on All Black Everything.
The main issue with Lasers are its hooks (choruses). The hooks are what ultimately give this album the negative “Pop” stamp. Many label the hook on “The Show Goes On”‘ too corny, “Beautiful Lasers (2 Ways)” has a good vibe with a haunting message, but the hook destroys nearly any and all value of the track and “Break The Chain“‘s hook sounds like a Daft Punk-knock off. Even the album’s beginning tracks can be talked down upon due to the overkill of singing throughout. However, this is not enough to label the album bad or terrible.
When you view Lasers simply as a product of music, and forget that Lupe Fiasco is the artist behind it, you are able to appreciate its Pros and examines its Cons. Imagine for a second that this album was a product of an unknown underground rapper on the come-up with no history and no expectations. Would this album be labeled as terrible or un-listenable to, as it is today?
★★★: Good; fans of the artist will find value here.
★★★★★: Best in show; pinnacle release from an all-time great artist.
★★★★1/2: Stellar example of genre; peak potential.
★★★★: Excellent; recommended to all fans of artist or genre.
★★★1/2: Very good; a few bland songs or minor flaws throughout.
★★★: Good; fans of the artist will find value here.
★★1/2: Average; does little to establish the artist or maintain quality.
★★: Unexceptional; a few highlights but otherwise bland.
★1/2: Weak; unrecommended for anyone but major fans of the style and/or artist.
★: Seriously flawed; very poor work but relatively listenable.
1/2: Terrible; a true embarrassment and akin to audio masochism.