Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Album Review: Lupe Fiasco - Lasers

This is an album where knowledge of it's inception and development is required to understand why Lasers 'is how it is'. I could fill up a whole post on the context behind this albums release, but in brief: Atlantic (Lupe’s record label) delayed the albums release indefinitely because they weren’t satisfied that the albums direction was commercially appealing to a suitable extent. After three years and still no release date in site Lupe’s fans organised an online petition and staged a protest outside Atlantic’s head office. Subsequently a compromise was reached between Lupe and the label and the album was given a release date.

Unfortunately the aforementioned compromise resulted in Lupe having less creative control over this album than he normally would, and it shows. Long time collaborative producer Soundtrakk is out the picture and in his place we have much more pop influenced production and chorus work. That’s not to say that the production and hooks are necessarily bad – their decent for the most part – but they don’t fit in with the album’s vibe. You have these creative, politically rebellious, anti-status-quo lyrics juxtaposed against a backdrop of fairly generic beats and hooks you’d expect to find on a B.o.B album.

Lyrically the album ranges from possibly the most personal and confronting introspective tracks of his career to the most commercially uninspired joints to ever be found on a Lupe album. The latter of which go against everything that Lupe has stated Lasers stands for. You have I Don’t Wanna Care, which practically promotes ignorance, Out of My Head, which is devoid of any substance and Coming Up, where Lupe takes an important issue and glosses over it’s surface rather than adding any depth to the discussion (to be fair the hook and production didn’t really allow for it).

Jumping over to the more positive end of the spectrum, the standout tracks on this release can compete with the best of his previous two albums. Beautiful Lasers see’s Lupe tackling his own depression and speaking on his contemplation of suicide, a side of his we’ve never really seen before.
All you see is all my feats,
All I see is all my flaws,
All I hear is all my demons,
Even through your applause,
All you see is all my flights,
Well all I see is all my falls,
All you see is all my rights,
All I see is all my wrongs,
The records political nature is present throughout the album but no more so than on the brilliant single, Words I Never Said, where ‘The War On Terror’, the education system and the media (amongst many others) are all targets. There’s no lack of Lupe’s trademark conceptual or metaphor riddled tracks either:
We interrupt this broadcast
To bring you a special message bout the forecast
The futures cloudy and its raining on the poor class
Road to peace is closed heavy traffic on the war paths
All the insight, lyricism and creativity that Lupe is known for is present on the album. It’s just mixed amongst some of his weaker tracks to date.

Track Scores:

01. Letting Go (Feat. Sarah Green) 10
02. Words I Never Said (Feat. Skylar Grey) 10
03. Till I Get There
04. I Don’t Wanna Care Right Now (Feat. MDMA) 6.5
05. Out Of My Head (Feat. Trey Songz) 5.5
06. The Show Goes On 8.5
07. Beautiful Lasers, (Two Ways) (Feat. MDMA) 10
08. Coming up (Feat. MDMA) 6
09. State Run Radio (Feat. Matt Mahaffey) 8
10. Break The Chain (Feat. Eric Turner & Sway) 8
11. All Black Everything 7.5
12. Never Forget You (Feat. John Legend) 10


- Not a fan of how in All Black Everything Lupe inserts a ‘white 50 cent’ and has Ahmadinejad winning a peace prize. I understand what he was trying to do but it just comes off as corny.

- The double choruses that signal the end of Break The Chain and State Run Radio were unnecessary and should have been cut.

- I think the album finale, Never Forget You, is being heavily underrated. It has great production, – one of the few tracks on Lasers that sounds like it could have been on The Cool or Food and Liquor – an amazing chorus from John Legend and Lupe exercising his inner Kanye with simple yet deceptively poetic and touching lyrics.
Moments of the past, comin’ back to find us
Not to relive them, just to remind us
 If Kanye had of performed this exact same track I think people would be raving about it but because everyone expects Lupe to be as cryptic and complex as possible the tracks being underappreciated.

Highlights: Beautiful Lasers, Words I Never Said, Letting Go, Never Forget You

Lowlights: I Don’t Care Right Now, Coming Up, Out of My Head

How Does It Compare To Previous Releases?: The highlights are up their with the best of his first two LP’s but the weaker tracks are much worse than anything you’re likely to find on either album. The production is completely different as well, much more pop influenced.

Rating: 80

Previously: Lupe Fiasco - Stereo Sun | Lupe Fiasco - Words I Never Said | How Hype? Lupe Fiasco - Lasers

1 comment:

  1. Dumb political statements like that make him look like a fool.

    See: Mos Def