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Posted at 12:23 PM ET, 03/ 8/2011

Album review: Lupe Fiasco, "Lasers"

By Sean Fennessey

lupe fiascoThe story behind Lupe Fiasco's "Lasers" is more interesting than the album itself. (Rafael Crisostomo/FTWP)

The story of the three-years-in-waiting "Lasers" - its multiple delays, its tormented creator, its eventual crowd-sourced release - has consumed everything around it. For Lupe Fiasco, the technically gifted but preachy Chicago MC, this album is much more about the controversy and less about the music. That's lucky for him, because "Lasers" is mealy-mouthed, disharmonious and forgettable - the embodiment of corporate desire and artistic aspiration colliding messily.

In the three years since Fiasco (born Wasalu Jaco) released his second album, "The Cool," he's recorded many songs. But according to Fiasco, the 12 that made the cut for "Lasers" were assembled by his record label, Atlantic (from whom he has asked for his release), and were often recorded without enthusiasm. It shows.

Fiasco's desire to incite revolution- an often incendiary and wholly unspecific brand of revolution - is at war with the sound of this album, a tetchy melange of stormy synths and overblown choruses. "The Show Goes On" interpolates a sped-up melody from Modest Mouse's "Float On," perhaps the nadir of hokey-indie-rock-meets-hip-hop marriages. Longtime collaborators Soundtrakk and Prolyfic are nowhere to be found here. Instead, vague, unthreatening singers, including MDMA, Sarah Green and Skylar Grey, sing bombastic hooks that are inserted into what sounds like a mediocre album by Bay Area insurrectionists The Coup.

Fiasco's anti-everything stance - against the government, the radio industry, the notion of humor - is suitably riling. There's something bracing about the opening line from his current single, "Words I Never Said": "I really think the war on terror is a bunch of [expletive]." But there is no constancy of thought. Fiasco, who was introduced so memorably on Kanye West's joyous "Touch the Sky," has never recaptured that sense of looseness and fun.

Recommended track: "All Black Everything"

By Sean Fennessey  | March 8, 2011; 12:23 PM ET
Categories:  Quick spins  | Tags:  Lupe Fiasco  
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Next: Album review: Avril Lavigne, "Goodbye Lullaby"


I agree, Lupe has not recaptured that fun spirit he had on "Touch The Sky". Lasers is too commercial for my taste.

Posted by: tjmdubcity | March 8, 2011 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Aweful review. Lasers was a great album, that was not concerned with being mainstream. That was the whole reason it took three years to release it. Atlantic Records wanted him to "Dumb It Down" but he refused, so Atlantic refused to release it. Lupe Fiasco's fans then protested outside of Atlantic's headquarters, which then showed Atlantic that the album would sell. Lupe has never been concerned with people liking him. He speaks his mind and that's what makes him a great rapper. He does not want to be mainstream and rap about cars, sex, drugs, guns, and money. He talks about problems in society, and he always has. The wonderful song "Show Goes On" has an extremely inspiring message, to a brilliant adaptation of Modest Mouse's "Float On". "All Black Everything" imagines a world without color and race. How is that mainstream? How is that "the embodiment of corporate desire", when he calls out many companies and banks? As everyone is entitled to their opinion, I will not say anything about the writer of this review, but I respectfully disagree with just about everything in it.

Posted by: skinsboi | March 8, 2011 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Lasers definitely sounds like two different musical mindsets colliding, and it's not hard to tell which songs seem forced. The middle of the album is pretty bad, and it's not surprising that most of those songs feature MDMA and those "stormy synths and overblown choruses."

It's hard to imagine that Lupe had much fun at all recording this album, and most of his lyrical genius gets lost in the process.

Posted by: mkremnitzer0 | March 9, 2011 10:21 AM | Report abuse

How are you going to diss on Sarah Green??Shes wonderful and has been on previous Lupe tracks. This whole review is poorle written. Obviously when lupe is talking about important world issues hes not going to be loose and fun. Are the reporters on the news loose and fun when talking about the finacial crisis and war?

Posted by: lilpele | March 9, 2011 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Obviously we can't disregard wether or not Lupe had "fun" with this album, that is why he makes music, it's his passion. Sounds like it was and it wasn't, it took too long, its not what he set out to do, but in the end he got to have the last word. Anyone who knows his music should hear that "corporate embodiment sound" in this whole album. Disregard the lyrics, what does it sound like? They said it right in the article: a mash up of his flow with synthetic sounds and a poppy chorus. Although it's not quite what was expected, It's still a great album and fans will love it.

Posted by: rivere86 | March 9, 2011 8:43 PM | Report abuse

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