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Lupe Fiasco - Lasers Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 8
Musicianship 7
Lyrics 7.5
Production 7
Creativity 6
Lasting Value 6.5
Reviewer Tilt 6
Final Verdict: 69%
Member Ratings
Vocals 7.58
Musicianship 7.22
Lyrics 7.56
Production 6.89
Creativity 6.08
Lasting Value 6.31
Reviewer Tilt 6.94
Average: 69%
Inside AP.net

Lupe Fiasco - Lasers

Reviewed by: Ian Walker (03/07/11)
Lupe Fiasco - Lasers
Record Label: Atlantic Records
Release Date: March 8, 2011

“Album on hold, whole world on hold.”

Lasers was Wasalu Jaco's, otherwise known as Lupe Fiasco, whole world. What was supposed to be Fiasco's glorious return to hip-hop unfortunately became a project bogged down in bureaucracy and heavy label involvement. He found success early in his career after releasing Food & Liquor and The Cool, both of which garnered immense amounts of critical praise. Fiasco was labeled by both his fans and peers as one of the best lyricists in the game, and everyone eagerly waited to see what his next step would be. After various album announcements, name changes, and single drops, Fiasco announced that Lasers was complete. Unfortunately, it was inexplicably being held back by Atlantic Records. Petitions and protests followed until the label settled on a release date. What was once seen as a sort of holy grail in the hip-hop world would finally see the light of day.

Lasers carries an odd dichotomy of tracks, ranging from incredible to catchy to boring. “Words I Never Said” is one track on the positive end of the spectrum, carried mostly Alex da Kid's disparate production and Skylar Grey's fantastic chorus vocals. Fiasco seems most at home on this track, using his signature lyrical prowess to shine a spotlight on issues facing the world today. Everyone gets called out, including but not limited to: President Obama, Glenn Beck, Islamic extremists, Israel, the American school system, and so on and so forth. This track is easily one of my favorites, but Fiasco's message doesn't really deliver the sting you think it would. Mos Def's “The Rape Over” was controversial for exposing the corruption behind-the-scenes in the music industry with violent, sexual imagery. "Words I Never Said" never really reaches the same level. I can really see what Fiasco was going for on this track, but the message isn't anything we haven't heard a million times before.

Unfortunately, that's not the only time Fiasco's message falls a bit flat on Lasers. “All Black Everything” paints the picture of a world where slaves were never brought to the new world, but eventually devolves into a mixture of oxymoronic combinations and a race-swapped version of the world we know today. In Fiasco's vision, Bill O'Reilly reads from the Quran at Malcolm X's funeral, George W. Bush is the president of Iran, and Ahmadinejad wins the Mandela Peace Prize. While the song is rife with his typical creative flair and pretty inspirational, Fiasco's lyrics fall behind a bit as the song wears on. That being said, the beat goes hard and continues that way until the end. The fusion of intense percussion, melancholic strings, and opera vocals make this track's production some of the best Lasers has to offer.

And then Lasers begins to stray. “I Don't Wanna Care Right Now” would be a fun, catchy track if recorded by any other artist, but doesn't really live up to my expectations of what a Lupe Fiasco track should be. Where other tracks carried too much exposition that eventually fell flat, “I Don't Wanna Care Right Now” is a typical party banger. MDMA's auto-tuned vocals fit in perfectly with the uninspired beats and melodies that accompany Fiasco's uncaring lyrics. The following track, “Out of My Head,” is the perfect mindless follow-up. While some substance can be obtained from the vocals of Trey Songz, the lyrics are typical of any other love song on the radio right now, backed by production even more trite than the song that preceded it.

Lasers' saving grace is definitely a pair of songs found near the midpoint of the album. “The Show Goes On” features Fiasco's most inspirational lyrics yet as he seeks to give hope to those stuck in less than ideal situations. “The world is yours,” he says, his normally peaceful demeanor broken as he promises to start a world war for the boys and girls living in the same ghettos he himself suffered in. Producer Kane Beatz mixes samples of “Float On” by Modest Mouse with an uplifting horn melody to create an incredibly hopeful atmosphere for Fiasco to rhyme over. While it may not be spectacular, the production definitely melds well with the lyrics as one of Lasers' main highlights.

The sidekick of the duo comes in the form of “Beautiful Lasers (2 Ways).” Fiasco's lyrics empathize with those who can only see darkness in the world around them. His struggle with depression and thoughts of suicide come through in a subtle way without being overly dramatic, but the track definitely deals with some heavy themes. MDMA makes another appearance, his overly electronic vocals actually fitting well with the overall ambient feel of King David's production. Fiasco's openness results in an incredibly moody, introspective track that gives a good look at the issues he had to face during and after Lasers' creation.

Fiasco has since gone on record as saying he both loves and hates this album. After all he went through to get it released, it's hard to blame him. But the hard work he supposedly put into making sure Lasers remained true to his vision seems all for naught thanks to overbearing label interference. Fiasco became a champion of level-headed, unique hip-hop with his earlier releases, but only the former seems to have followed him into his recent effort. Every instance of brilliance is balanced out or, unfortunately, outweighed by the numerous missteps that plague this release. John Legend and Skylar Grey lend their voices with fantastic features, but they too are pushed aside by MDMA's uninspired appearances. While none of the tracks are absolutely terrible, Fiasco set the height of his own bar early on, and he's so much better than what he's been forced to release on Lasers.

Track Listing1. 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)


Official Website | Official AbsolutePunk Page | "The Show Goes On" Music Video
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 85
12:09 AM on 03/08/11
#2
chino.mania
killing ur d00dz
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Hatterazzi. lol what?


Good review.
12:17 AM on 03/08/11
#3
bNz719
Know more.
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A couple of great tracks in "Words I Never Said" and "State Run Radio," but otherwise, decent songs with somewhat annoying choruses in a decent album.
12:36 AM on 03/08/11
#4
Argentine
When I die, rap dies; Destiny Bond.
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I'm suddenly worried about purchasing this.
01:15 AM on 03/08/11
#5
weworemasks
save the drama for wilmer valderama
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just posted my review too. i thought 'words i never said' and 'all black' as concepts - were great songs. good messages and bold words. he's been pretty good at that in his career.

my most hated songs were "i don't wanna care," "break the chain" and "state run radio."

the rest is a-ok with me. i'm a fan of lupe, i'm a fan of this record, even though it could've been way better. the cool and F+L are classics to me, though.
02:17 AM on 03/08/11
#6
Thomas Nassiff
resuscitation of the year
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I liked the record.
03:52 AM on 03/08/11
#7
A7XBlink
Regular Member
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Great review, I do think the overall rating is a little off though, I mean Lupe actually puts together some great lyrics here, you won't see that in The Carter 4 or Rolling Papers, but Lupe's always been under the radar, that's what makes him so great.
04:59 AM on 03/08/11
#8
*Ro'
www.playitloudfuckers.com
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Such a disappointing record.
05:40 AM on 03/08/11
#9
punkrockmedic
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I'm glad I heard the record before I read this review. I actually love this record, it's not often that I can listen to a hip-hop album all the way through without skipping a track. This album is definitely going to be on my top list.
05:47 AM on 03/08/11
incognitojones
http://auburn-hills.tumblr.com
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I thought it was decent, but pretty bad for a Lupe record.
06:20 AM on 03/08/11
Drew Beringer
Senior Editor - @drewberinger - Locked Groove
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yep, one of the most disappointing records of 2011
06:41 AM on 03/08/11
3eb23
The World Is Yours
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Minor setback for Lupe in my eyes. Still know how incredibly talented this guy is, and still looking forward to any and everything he releases in the future.
06:55 AM on 03/08/11
Holly HoX!
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Oh, man. Disappointing. Especially since Enemy of the State was fucking unbelievable.

I wonder if he pulled off better tracks once the record was in limbo.
06:56 AM on 03/08/11
Holly HoX!
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Great review, I do think the overall rating is a little off though, I mean Lupe actually puts together some great lyrics here, you won't see that in The Carter 4 or Rolling Papers, but Lupe's always been under the radar, that's what makes him so great.

Are you talking about Rolling Papers as in Domo?
07:25 AM on 03/08/11
3eb23
The World Is Yours
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Just picked it up at Best Buy. Letting Go (1st track) is so sweet.
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