Lupe Fiasco - Lasers

Posted 5 years ago
Tags: Lupe Fiasco,

You’re seated at the new three star French restaurant everyone’s been talking about, your...

Lasers Album Review

You’re seated at the new three star French restaurant everyone’s been talking about, your hot date sitting across the table. The wine is flowing freely. You order the roasted chicken with heirloom tomatoes and when it arrives the chicken is moist, the skin is roasted crisply and while the tomatoes are a touch soggy, overall it’s a perfectly nice dinner. As you exit the restaurant happily, your date in your arm, you mention the soggy tomatoes to the waiter: “I shouldn’t be telling you this,” he whispers, “but we ran out of fresh tomatoes. We pulled yours from the dumpster.”

Food, film, music, they’re all completely subjective art forms, and how we experience them depends in large part on context. So if you have no idea about the circumstances surrounding Lupe Fiasco’s third album Lasers, you might want to stop reading now. I’m only going to dirty the purity of your listening experience. But for those of us who know about Atlantic Record’s refusal to release the album, the fan uprising, Lupe’s admission that he compromised the musical integrity he seemingly holds so dear (“Whatever. Another song, another day, another dollar.”) there can be no unknowing, and those who claim some sort of objective analysis are naïve at best and delusional at worst.

The effect of all that knowledge is to make listening to Lasers a sometimes paranoia-invoking experience. Every song, every note, every lyric has a question lingering like a shadow behind it: was that Lupe’s decision, or Atlantic’s? That question colors the entire album, and occasionally produces some strange paradoxes. For instance, he’s essentially disowned Lasers’ lead single The Show Goes On, saying” I didn’t have nothing to do with that record. That was the label’s record,” which is awkward on two counts. One, I really enjoyed The Show Goes On, it’s the album’s only truly uplifting offering. But now, if I want to support Lupe and by extension independent music, I suppose I should dislike it. Right? Two, Lupe fills the song with lines like “I don’t switch up I just laugh / unaffected by they threat” which suddenly seem confusingly contradictory; in reality he was deeply affected by their threats. Never Forget About You, another John Legend quasi-ballad he’s also distanced himself from, is somewhat easier to deal with – it’s not good enough to think too much about. But what should we make of records like Out of My Head, his electronically oriented collab with Trey Songz, the Neptunes produced I Don’t Wanna Know Right Now or the sweetly bouncing Coming Up? They all sound like hits, but are they Lupe’s efforts at expanding his sonic horizons (yeah!) or evidence of yet more label manipulation (boo!)? I wish I could travel back to a time before I knew enough to ask these questions, I really do, but until I figure out how to hook up my Mr. Fusion to my flux capacitor, I’m stuck in the present.

There are, of course, a few songs on Lasers that bear all the hallmarks of a more “traditional” Lupe record, most prominently All Black Everything. A gorgeously produced song that marries soaring strings with hard hitting percussion, All Black is a revival of the deeply thoughtful, lyrical and sometimes funny Lupe that first drew us to him in the first place. However history ultimately judges Lasers, he’ll always have All Black Everything. While at first blush Words I Never Said might seem like a label choice, uber-hitmakers Alex da Kid and Skylar Grey are behind it, in fact it’s the result of years of communication between Lupe and Alex. Originally intended as a dysfunctional relationship song, Lupe instead flips the song into a politically charged anthem in the tradition of previous efforts American Terrorist and Little Weapon. The Lupe Fiasco we heard on Food & Liquor and The Cool hasn’t disappeared, he’s just dressed a little differently.

To the uncaring I’m sure this seems like a ridiculous amount of thought to put into an album, but Lupe has always insisted that we view his music as an extension of himself, as a direct reflection of his mind and soul, and in doing so has made us invest deeply in both him as an artist and a person. Ultimately that means that I’m disappointed both in Lasers and in Lupe Fiasco, but we need to be careful not to let that disappointment cloud the past or dampen the future. Lupe seems to have accepted that Lasers is not the masterpiece he originally set out to make and is prepared to move on. Maybe we should follow his lead.

DJBooth Rating - 3.5 Spins

Comments
Written by
Posted 5 years ago
Get The PLUG app by DJBooth and get the best hip-hop writing and news delivered daily.

Related Songs & Features

Didn’t Like “Lasers”? Lupe Fiasco Will Destroy Your Copy With An Actual Laser

Didn't like Lupe's third album? Send it do him so he can destroy it. Seriously. Read More
Posted 11 months ago by Brendan V

Lost After “Lasers,” A Lupe Fiasco Fan Finds His Membership Card

The moment the transaction was completed, she knew her decision was foolish. We were six or seven, old enough to attend school, but too young to... Read More
Posted one year ago by Yoh
Sample Text - Sample Link
0:00
3:00
Shrink
Hide

More from Lupe Fiasco

Featured Video

Hip Hop News

Music Video Director Hiro Murai Is Donald Glover’s Secret Weapon

Hiro Murai has made incredible music videos with Childish Gambino, but now he's taking his talents to Atlanta with Donald Glover. Read More
Posted 6 hours ago by Yoh

Holy Sh*t You Need To Watch DJ Shadow & Run The Jewels’ “Nobody Speak” Video

The legendary producer/DJ brings out Run The Jewels for glorious, Funny Or Die-premiered visuals. Read More
Posted 7 hours ago by Brent Bradley

The DJBooth A&R Report (August, 2016)

Become familiar with the names and work of four exciting, young artists before they blow up. Read More
Posted 7 hours ago by Brendan V

French Montana Lied, “MC4” Wasn’t Pushed Back Due to Sample Clearance

Epic Records chairman and CEO L.A. Reid divulges the real reason why French will be released in October. Read More
Posted 8 hours ago by DJ Z

A De La Soul Catalog Crash Course Before “and the Anonymous Nobody…” Arrives

We look back at De La Soul's entire catalog before looking ahead to their brand new album. Read More
Posted 9 hours ago by Matteo Urella

Damn! Mickey Factz Has “600 Bars On Deck” For Upcoming Radio Appearances

Considering Mickey’s track record, you’re going to want to keep an eye out for these upcoming appearances. Read More
Posted 10 hours ago by Brent Bradley

TRENDING NOW



Flame

TOP 20 MUSIC CHARTS


Discover the best new songs, videos, and albums added to the Booth.