Lasers: Album Review
2011 release from the critically acclaimed rapper. Lasers reaches new heights of lyrical and musical mastery, while aiming to reach even bigger audiences. Lasers is an acronym for "Love Always Shines Everytime: Remember to Smile," and the album is a reflection of a 14-point manifesto the Chicago-born MC composed to guide him on the project, including items like "We want substance in the place of popularity" and "We will not compromise who we are to be accepted by the crowd." Lasers features some of the most thought-provoking rhymes and concepts Fiasco has ever conceived, combined with irresistible melodies, production by the likes of Jerry Wonder and The Neptunes, as well as collaborations with John Legend, Trey Songz, and others.
The name of Lupe Fiasco's sophomore set sounds like a Kanye-ism, and that's fitting: The Cool spills over with Mr. West-style urgency, and it's just about as smart as anything Fiasco's more flamboyant mentor has issued. It could even land Lupe a little too close to the top of the hip-hop heap for Kanye's comfort. The Cool is cool not only for its sober, clear-headed vibe -- Fiasco ponders everything from the apocalypse to poverty to the weight of worldly possessions in these songs, some of them produced with a level of sensitivity uncommon among studio tracks by Soundtrakk -- but also for its potential. Songs like "Dumb It Down," about the music industry's insistence on the same old sorry themes, burn with relatability and realness. But others go deeper. "Little Weapon," produced by Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump, and "Intruder Alert" shape-shift customary hip-hop dialogue to let the issues of the day come sharply into focus. They make you think. Overall, The Cool is fevered, fierce, and at times furious, but so is Lupe Fiasco, and the album easily earns its spot as one of the top 10 CDs of 2007. --Tammy La Gorce
With Food & Liquor, Lupe Fiasco sets no boundaries for himself as he creates a revolutionary brand of alternative hip-hop in which he shares his mind through original storytelling techniques. He takes hip-hop off the streets and onto the half pipe, off the streets and into the sneaker shops, off the streets and into the hands and in front of real people.
FINAAAAALLY, Grammy Award winning rapper, Lupe Fiasco's third and long awaited album, Lasers has surfaced. For the past three years or so, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding it's release, since the gold-classic, The Cool in 2007. Even back then, Lasers seemed promising when the single, 'Shining Down' ft. Matthew Santos of hit, 'Superstar' was leaked all over the internet. Still, there was disappointment of the single being dropped, although 'Shining Down' peaked at #93 on the Billboard Hot 100. Then, another single, 'I'm Beamin' produced by The Neptunes was released, but didn't have any effect on the delay of Lasers.
Usually, albums are shelved when they take entirely too long to see the light of day and music artists move on to brand new material. The turning point for Lupe Fiasco was when a fan wrote a letter to record label, Atlantic Records for the release of Lasers to repeal the slow process. From there, it became a petition followed by 32,000 others and led to a protest, right in front of the headquarters of Atlantic Records in New York. In the history of music especially in Hip Hop, this is quite unheard of and at the same time, fantastic. It might have set the tone for Nas' The Lost Tapes: Volume 2 as the same trouble could be brewing at Def Jam and fans could have taken similar action. In October of 2010, the now gold-selling single, 'The Show Goes On' had hit the radio and Lasers was going to be official. With this lead single, Lupe Fiasco takes a nice, simple approach to actually make a hit record and maybe, not so super lyrical as one of his fellow rappers, once named him. Therefore, this shows on Lasers as the album could be basically dumb down in three directions.
Political & Social Commentary
Lupe Fiasco always appear to have a brilliant mind and its apparent on the second lead single, 'Words I Never Said' produced by Alex da Kid and hook singer, Skylar Grey as they both contributed to the hit single, 'I Need A Doctor' with Dr. Dre and Eminem. In 'Words I Never Said', Lupe Fiasco tackles issues about the crooked system we live in. What stands out the most from the song are the shots he takes at fellow Chicagoan and president, Barack Obama. 'All Black Everything', which happens to be Lupe Fiasco's favorite track on Lasers, he delivers a great message and have us all thinking, what it would have been like for slaves to get paid for their workload, without any reparations? Jay-Z made 'All Black Everything' a hot line, but Lupe Fiasco made it a hot song.
The rap scholar's sound has definitely been altered, as that was one of the problems with Lupe Fiasco and Atlantic Records, he's not really making the music everyone wants to hear. Commercially radio efforts weaves in and out of Lasers with 'Out of My Head', a collaboration with major guest artist, Trey Songz. This is more than likely a 'man meets woman' song of fondest memories. Other songs such as 'I Don't Wanna Care Right Now', surely has a club and somewhat of a dance hall feel to it. 'State Run Radio' speaks for itself of the title alone.
Lasers start with a reflective 'Letting Go' with Sarah Green as Lupe Fiasco focuses on the struggle to stay motivated of inspiration. He's been known to be a sharp storyteller in his music and it becomes personal on 'Beautiful Lasers (2 Ways)' as he discusses depression and suicide from the pressure that comes with fame. The song could have been just a little bit more beautiful without the autotuned chorus. Lasers end with a whimsical 'Never Forget You' as John Legend lends his smooth vocals on the song. Its common, Lupe Fiasco have stood by the familiar format from previous albums of one or two, major guest appearances.
The future of Lupe Fiasco remains questionable. Retirement might be so far gone as once proclaimed. Although its not Lupe Fiasco's best work, Lasers is an album for the people. They have fought to have a voice in the coming of this pretty good record. Despite all the conflict, "Love Always Shines Everytime, Remember 2 Smile".
©2011, Alphonso Taylor. All rights reserved. No republication of this material in any form or medium is permitted without expressed permission of the author.