Lupe Fiasco – Lasers

Lupe Fiasco – Lasers
Atlantic: 2011

Despite what you might have heard, Lasers doesn’t suck in its entirety. It really doesn’t.

But it’s not really that great either.

There are multiple issues that have been consistently plaguing this project from the get-go and unfortunately they are reflected within the music and the album itself.  When the oft-delayed Lasers found its way to the internet about a week before its official release, the initial feedback I was reading wasn’t positive. Perplexing, since the only reason the album was released was due to overwhelming demand from his fan base (via the Internets) after his label delayed the project for a year. Even more confusing is that the album moved 200,000 copies in its first week, regardless of the negative rabble-rousing.

After having a chance to dig into the back history of Lasers and some time to sit with the project and dig into each individual song, I really started to understand the complaints. And most of them are valid. You can start with the obvious influence that his label had in changing this project from an album that Lupe was comfortable with to something that is marketable to the average hip-hop newbie. They seem hell-bent on having Lupe play up the “Hipster Hop™” angle, apparent from the guest appearances on the album (why is MDMA on every other song? No offense) down to the important songs the label purposely left off (when you left off “I’m Beaming”, you lost at music). It looks like the label got their way.

Then there’s Lupe himself and his lyrical content. I’ll be frank: if you are a longtime fan of Lupe, then you’ve already been spoiled, and there might be little on here as far as that classic delivery or content that we’re used to.  This isn’t the same verbose and lyrically complex Lupe Fiasco of 2005 mixtape fame. It’s not even Food And Liquor Lupe. And as a result… people are a bit disappointed; myself included.  In the past, Lupe has spent an entire song describing how “they” want him to “Dumb It Down” then proceeds to deliver verses and records that aren’t up to par with previous works, which seem worded to make it a bit easier for the masses to understand. Throw that against beats that normally would not qualify as “hip-hop” music and what you have is a bunch of mad fanboys out there.

Despite these failures, the album still has some moments of glory. “The Show Goes On” is a flawless example of this indie | hipster meets hip-hop meld that’s becoming more prevalent, and is the preferred (forced?) single from the reformatted, label-cleared album. I’m actually quite fond of this song and the Modest Mouse original it came from, “Float On”. “All Black Everything” is the only track where Lupe seems to be in old form; with those historically vivid, politically fundamental punch lines that we all know and love (“Everybody’s rappin like crack never happened”). From there, most of the songs were a bit too entrenched in hipster-sounding music, or the lyrical content was such that I just… couldn’t care. (“State Run Radio”…WTF. I just don’t know. And I really tried.)

In a perfect world, Lupe would have had more control over Lasers. Important singles and their videos would have been pressed and marketed correctly, and it actually would have sounded like hip-hop music. Unfortunately, this is not a perfect world. Or album. For the outsider who has never listened to Lupe before, or for those who are new to hip-hop… this might be a great starter album for you. But for those who already know the history of Lupe Fiasco and his high lyrical standards, or those who are keen on hip-hop, you might just want to pass. For now, I’ll be over here, patiently waiting for Lupe’s return to complex, thought-provoking rhymes. I’m sure it won’t take long.

2 out of 5

26 thoughts on “Lupe Fiasco – Lasers

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  1. nope, I was wrong. hes a fucking idiot.

  2. nope, I was wrong. hes a fucking idiot.

  3. Didn’t mean to suggest that you specifically were calling the beats “white.” But I got that sense from the wider internetz. And as a few more days have gone by, this joint’s grown on me even more lol. To each their own

  4. LOLOL @ Andrew. I mean, I woulda took took an EP of any of those songs vs this sometimes.

    S.Patel: dammit I hate fanboys. I really do.

    Kara-Lis: WTF? what the ENTIRE fuck. The Black Eyed Peas if they were good? iont know if i even care that much. 🙁

    Joe E: Nah. Im not into coloring music like that. Music comes in genres, not colors. And what this sounds like is Hipster ass pop music. Crappy Hipster Pop. And trust me, Im in LA, ive seen this new breed of Black Hipster kids. Hipsterism knows no color bounds.
    From there… the beats are just not what im into. And im pretty much into everything. I dont know if its that they arent well constructed, or if they just arent my taste. I do like SOME tho.
    With that said, you are right. Half Ass Lupe is still better than the average rapper on a good day. Which is why Ill just sit back and wait for Full Lupe to come back.

    Afan: I was being really nice with the 2. lmao.

    JK: I dont think so. But this is an overrated album.

    D. Science: LOL @ your brother buying it. It IS hella kid friendly tho. Starter Rap. lolz.

    Thanks everyone, for giving a shit.

  5. D. $cience|

    I don’t know why people were surprised/shocked that Lasers came out the way it did. Even though “Shining Down” and “I’m Beaming” were better tracks, I still could tell that he was actually aiming for that alternative/indie sound for Pitchfork love. I mean, dude expressed before that he likes other genres better than Hip Hop, and he even formed a “punk-rock” band; you can’t tell me he wasn’t trying to go down the “bending genres” B.O.B. shtick with Lasers. I think Lupe is a dope emcee/lyricist, but my interest in his music wanes down every album he puts out.

    Anyways, this review is on point. Despite the f***ery of an album he made, I still bought it (okay, my little brother did, but it’s in my CD binder).

  6. overrated artist.

  7. @ Kara-Lis Coverdale

    since you mentioned them. i don’t like black eyed peas either. but there first and second album in the mid to late 90s were 100 times better then this.

    atleast they were hip hop albums.

  8. good review.

    i give it 1 out of 5.

    but i give it 1 for the album cover.

  9. Eh, I’m normally with you on music…but I’m slowly learning to enjoy LASERS. Is it his worst album? Absolutely…but when you’re Lupe that still leaves you at a pretty high caliber.

    Yes, the beats are poppy. But I think the unspoken criticism that undergirds this discussion is that they are “white” sounding, whatever that practically means. I admit the beats don’t knock like his two previous albums, but I can dig a lot of them…again, it’s taken time.

    As far as the paradox of him succeeding most with his “dumbed down” album, that is a headscratcher…but I guess he proves his point: the masses appreciate formulaic sounding music. That said, he’s still spitting substance. The wordplay may be lacking, but the message is certainly there…and I can appreciate that.

  10. Kara-Lis Coverdale|

    Ugh. I should really listen to this just to see how bad it really is.

    I’ve been especially hesitant/curious/intrigued since reading a review that said: “Ever wonder what The Black Eyed Peas would sound like if they were actually good? … 9/10”

  11. Fanboys bitching about an album that they bitched out of the record company.

    Typical Lupe fandom

    btw this is aimed at those who bitched, not anyone here.

  12. I didn’t even really like “I’m Beaming” or “Shining Down” but they were miles ahead of this shit.

  13. @ Joe: “who the fuck is MDMA and why are they ruining this album for me?” LOL. exactly dude. wtf.

    @ Gedi: they need to fire whoever left those damn songs off. that was just unnecessary in every way. dammit.

    @ jaja: iont know about gay, but they do sound pretty weird.

  14. Yea definitely not one his best album. Sounds like a pop album especially the track with gay songz…

  15. I’m still pissed off that “Shining Down” and “I’m Beaming” were left of the official album considering the forced indie-pop records on this LP. Itunes bonus tracks don’t cut it bro. Its pretty frustrating to hear an artist as talented as Lupe release mediocre music…ugh. This is album forgettable at best. Solid review Ericka.

  16. Sound Verite… wow. youre absolutely right… Lupe sounding like BOB with no soul. He was always bigger than that, lyrically… I hope he gets back to that.

    Emay… I was tryinta be nice about it. LOL. But Im glad you enjoyed.

    Peace to YMoise for that closing line. I owe you bro. 😀

  17. LOL @ Andrew. Yeah I figured as much man. I really, REALLY tried. lol.

    Marcus… its like… indie pop music. but not really even GOOD indie pop music. im sad.

  18. terrible album. thanks for this.

  19. Summed up my feelings perfectly, SV.

  20. Lupe Fiasco is the biggest problem for Lupe Fiasco. For an artist of such great integrity, I never thought he would sound like the emptiness of B.O.B. I couldn’t listen after several attempts.

  21. Marcus J. Moore|

    I agree. This album is just…..bad. Sounds like pop music with rapping on it.

  22. The album, I mean, not your review, haha.

  23. Couldn’t get into it at all.

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