Lupe Fiasco: Lasers
R&B & Hip-Hop
When record company fat cats finally liberated the first song
of Lupe Fiasco’s long-awaited third album back in October 2010, everyone feared
the worst. ‘The Show Goes On’ was a limp, derivative pulp of a song, whose
title should have included a sigh and a sad emoticon face, as if to say that
the coolest nerd alive had given into the moneymen with a heavy heart.
Not only was Lasers long-awaited; but it was also long fought
for. Before anyone thought to use Twitter to take on dictators, Lupe’s fans
used it for its true purpose; to stalk and express their love for their
celebrity idol. Tweeps across America spread word of an online petition
demanding the delayed release of the album, and it was announced in early
October that it would be set free in March 2011. Little did they know that the
first single would sound like a Kanye West throwaway. Lupe has since tried to distance
himself from the track, saying that he was instructed on how to rap on it.
That one lapse shouldn’t be made to define Lasers, though. For the most part, the
29-year-old Chicago native is on his best form on this album. Even with his
backpack and his Converse on, he’s not a happy-go-lucky guy. He thinks about
the world, and it causes him the right amount of pain.
‘Words I Never Said’ is an apt example, as he talks cleverly
about right-wing media, religious fundamentalism and American foreign policy.
‘All Black Everything’ is a brightly conceived alternate historical account where
Africa isn’t pillaged, Iranian President Ahmedinejad
wins something called the Mandela Peace Prize; and most bizarre of all, 50 Cent
His typically clever and quirky approach shines through in
the best songs, and drags it through other lacklustre ones. The latter are few,
but still numerous enough to detract from a solid album. ‘Break The Chain’ is
club-suited and catchy at first listen, but instantly forgettable. It just
doesn’t sit well as a Lupe Fiasco song.
‘Beautiful Lasers’, ‘State Run Radio’ and ‘Break The Chain’ will have many sets of eyes
rolling with its shallow chart-trending fusion of rock, r&b and dance. His
best is really great, but his second best is really average.
A lot has happened to hip-hop since his debut album Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor bought
him well-deserved praise from all quarters in 2006; namely, the fact that his
clean-cut, quirky style has been born into a host of new acts.
Unfortunately, his music still isn’t mainstream enough
for the masses to realise his true uniqueness. So three albums in; it’s stick
or bust for Lupe. Either go back to 2006, or go for broke and wipe out all the
copycats and wannabes. Bring on Food
& Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album; pencilled in for later this