Lupe Fiasco – Lasers Review

It’s been a long time coming for Lupe Fiasco’s third studio album ‘Lasers’. It was made and then deemed by Atlantic not to be marketable and shelved. Then an unprecedented protest organized by fans to get the album in stores prompted Atlantic to renegotiate with Lupe. Compromises were made by both parties and thus we have ‘Lasers’. So it’s a happy ending for ‘Lasers’ right? Not exactly.

I’ve been a huge fan and supporter of Lupe since his early beginnings with the trilogy of excellent ‘Fahrenheit 1/15’ mixtapes so I was eagerly anticipating this album and was hoping after the petition that Atlantic would realize how much fans appreciate Lupe’s music. However, it’s obvious they still don’t care and they just saw a business opportunity that they nearly missed out on. By Lupe’s own admission in an interview with Complex, Atlantic had their hands all over this record and forced him to do certain songs, rap a certain way, use certain hooks and beats. ‘Lasers’ is mostly Atlantic’s album when compared to ‘The Cool’, which was Lupe’s album and it’s painfully obvious.

The most noticeable and by far the most grating aspect of this album are the angst filled, overly dramatic, sing-song choruses. Literally every song has a sung chorus and it’s just too much for a hip hop head to digest. A few is fine by me as singing can really add emotion to music but I don’t need to hear different renditions of the same chorus twelve times. These are mostly over very pop-ish beats but that’s kind of expected from what we heard on ‘Food & Liquor’ and ‘The Cool’ so that seems like a natural progression for Lupe.

However, what really irks me is that half of the tracks are over synth filled techno beats and it really seems like Atlantic wanted to capitalize on that sound that’s been dominating the charts the past couple of years. The worst offenders of the bunch like “I Don’t Wanna Care Right Now”, “Out of My Head” and “Break The Chain” are so bad they’re damn near unlistenable.

I was really disappointed that frequent collaborator Soundtrakk didn’t contribute anything to this album because I think he is a key part of Lupe’s sound and holds his albums together. For those who don’t know, Soundtrakk did the beat for and co-wrote “Kick, Push”, “Superstar”, five songs on ‘Food & Liquor’ and more than half of the songs on ‘The Cool’. With that track record, it’s obvious they have good chemistry together and that he’s capable of producing massive hits for Lupe that are loved by both fans and the general public. Why Atlantic wouldn’t want him to continue contributing to Lupe’s albums is beyond me and a really bad decision in my opinion.

It’s not all bad though. Even with the sing-songy choruses and too many synths for my liking, there are still some good songs here. While some of the lyrics seem mailed in and are not nearly as complex as the dense lyrics on his mixtapes, Lupe’s message still comes through pretty clearly and he still brings the heat on a few of the tracks. The album starts off very strong with the “Letting Go” featuring Sarah Green (which should be a familiar name to Lupe fans), “Words I Never Said” and “Till I Get There” (produced by long-time collaborator Needlz) but it’s hit or miss after those first three songs.

“State Run Radio” is probably the best song on the album despite the terrible chorus and takes out his frustration with the music industry. “All Black Everything” is definitely the most hip hop sounding track with strings and hard drums. Although I’m not sure, it also sounds like the only song on the album that incorporated samples (“The Show Goes On” doesn’t count as a Modest Mouse sample because it’s recreated and reworked).

The album closes with “Never Forget You” featuring John Legend. Even though Lupe said he had little to do with this song and it was submitted to him by the label already completed with the exception of his verses, it’s actually pretty catchy (I guess the label did good work on that front) and ends the album on an optimistic vibe.

It’s a painful thing to see someone you admire being leveraged and taken advantage of by the music industry. It breaks the happy-go-lucky idea of an artist, producer and writer actually working together in the same room to create songs they want to make. Instead, the industry exposes itself as faceless suits whose job is to create hits with little care for the artistic integrity and individual creativity of its signed artists.

The knowledge of Lupe’s own frustration and the creative process behind some of the songs on the album may have biased my opinion of ‘Lasers’ but the fact remains that this is sub-par music from what a long-time fan comes to expect from him. For what it is, it’s an above average pop-rap album with a few good songs, some good lyrics and a positive message that people need to hear and based on those reasons, I am being a bit generous in my score. But as someone who’s been following Lupe since day one, I am severely disappointed in ‘Lasers’.

I just hope Lupe can get out of his deal with Atlantic and sign with an independent label where his artistic freedom will be encouraged rather than held back. Even without the backing of a major label, he already has a large dedicated fanbase that will buy his music without seeing a video on MTV so moving to an indie will not hurt his career in my opinion. I hope the best for him in the future but with the exception of a few songs, I can’t see myself returning to ‘Lasers’ too much.

Be sure to check out our editorial on the album, titled What If I Had Made Lupe Fiasco’s Lasers?

‘Lasers’ was released on March 8th, 2011

Comments (20)

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  1. BOSSsays:

    This is a decent review at best…. if it was written by someone who has the same IQ as peanut. You claim to be a Lupe fan yet complain about to many sung choruses. Have u listened to Lupes past albums? the majority of the songs on both of them feature sung choruses. You then complain about not enough in house collaborations well thats because GemStones is now doing gospel music and matthews santos is no longer under the same label as Lupe those are the only two main staples on the two previous albums. Skylar Grey was on a Fort Minor song which featured Lupe but she was under a different stage name at the time. Stop complaining about the beats being to poppy because they aren’t just because theres synth doesn’t mean their poppy. Listen to hip-hop all types and sub-genres and then comment on beats. Lupe delivers on this album it may not be as good as his previous albums and mixtapes but it’s definitely a solid piece of work. Lupe comes just as hard as he has ever lyrically and his flow is impeccable so next time you write a review make sure you know shit. Your not a hip-hop fan and you should be ashamed of yourself.

    1. Benjosays:

      BOSS buy a dictionary and look up the word bias and try to understand how your reply is associated with the meaning. No matter how much garbage you spit out about how great Lupe is doesn’t change the fact that you love him to death and fantasize about sucking him off. You should be ashamed dude, honestly.

    2. Vincesays:

      lol you mad? Look I’ve been listening to all types of hip hop for long enough (since the mid-90s if you must know) to spot a watered down album when I hear one. It’s not that I have a problem with sung choruses per say. Its the corniness and general blandness of them. And with the synth beats, it’s not only that they’re too poppy, they’re just bad beats and bad songs, particularly the three I named in the review: Break The Chain, that awful Trey Songz track and I Don’t Wanna Care Right Now. They aren’t nearly up to the same standards as some of the songs that hit the net pre-release like Go To Sleep or Shining Down. Hell even I’m Beamin. And while Lupe still brought it on the lyrical side, it still doesn’t even compare to the fire he brought on the Enemy Of The State mixtape.

      And lmao at calling me not a hip hop fan and saying I should be ashamed at myself for not liking this album. This ain’t no Illmatic or Paid in Full dude. This isnt some game changer that every head needs to listen to. This is an average album at best. Shit Lupe doesn’t even like it lmao (read that Complex interview). I hate to say it but Lasers is a dud. Watch for the new Pharoahe Monch, Cunninlynguists and Big KRIT on the 22nd for some quality hip hop.

      1. Chrissays:

        Lyrically on this album Lupe came out in full force, he hit’s important issues and keeps a smooth flow while doing so, The “Techno Pop Beats” as you so adequately put it JaJaJa is a progression of music by the artist and the art form, know if your tiny brain can’t comprehend that let me break down for you, Food&Liquor and the The Cool were great albums for Lupe and for Hip Hop at that point in his career, Hip Hop is an Art form and like all great Art it needs to keep evolving to stay relevant and connected to the people if the Art never evolved than when music would never grow, Laser is simply a maturation of Lupe Fiasco and Music..Is the album his best work? debatable..Does the album seem to more record Label driven..Possible..but that doesn’t make it bad it just makes it different, Lasers is not a dud, it has good vibes backed with quality lyrics, it’s nice to be able to go back and grab Hip Hop by it’s roots and transition them into tracks and into a sound that is relevant with today, and that’s what lasers does, maybe step outside box and listen to Lasers maybe you’ll hear it differently.

      2. Suportnomatterwhatsays:

        so why the hell are you guys downing on LUPE if we know Atlantic pick the tracks that released on Lasers…
        You are no true fan if you blame an artist for his labels bull shit. they didnt even want to release the album .

      3. Vincesays:

        We’re not putting Lupe down. Not once did we say he wasn’t talented or he can’t rap. On the contrary actually I think he’s one of the best lyricists out there at the moment. But you can’t give an album a pass because of the circumstances. We’re judging it on the quality of the music alone and it’s just not great unfortunately, especially for someone as talented as him.

    3. Jhubbs2says:

      Everyone has their opinion, and yours is an obvious love for Lupe’s work no matter how it turns out. There is definitely some great songs on this album if you have respect for Lupe’s past shit. And obviously there’s gonna be people who love his new stuff. All im saying is don’t hate on someone who states their opinion and backs it up with some reasonable points, just as you did with your argument, except for your last sentence. In my opinion, if the author (or anyone) liked Lupe in the past they’re a hip hop fan!

  2. BossIsGaysays:

    I agree 100% with this review. It’s a shame the album came out this way, but as you said there were some good songs (“all black everything”, “till i get there”). You can tell that most of the songs had potential. Listen to a live version of “Beautiful Lasers” on youtube, it’s a billion times better than the album version even though it’s horrible quality and only a clip. By the way, BOSS you’re a (I’m not clever enough to think of a better insult). Grow up.

    1. anonsays:

      Appreciate you checking out the site man, but lay off the homophobic slurs. Not needed nor wanted here.

  3. adamsays:

    I listened to it this morning on the train….this review is spot on.

    it’s not a bad album but too many songs sound alike…too much of the synth beats….

    tracks 3-5 (including the Trey song) are really not where it’s at….I actually told my female friend to check it out….and she’s really not a fan of Rap. So what’s that tell you????

    It’s commercial….but not awful.

  4. True Headsays:

    Vince, for all it’s worth, I 100% FULLY agree with your review. I consider myself to be a fairly well versed hip hop head. I have one other friend who shares the same vision of hip hop as I do and we both agree this album by Lupe is pretty much garbage considering the very high standard we hold him to. I’ve been a fan of Lupe’s from day one, just like you, and feel the EXACT same way you do about this album: highly disappointed.
    A+ Review. You know your shit.

    @BOSS – Your name says it all. “BOSS”. No surprise at all, you would like this type of diluted “rap”…

    1. Exka3bursays:

      so why the hell are you guys downing on LUPE if we know Atlantic pick the tracks that released on Lasers…
      You are no true fan if you blame an artist for his labels bull shit. they didnt even want to release the album .

  5. True Headsays:

    @Vince – Did you like “The Takeover” by Zion I?

    1. Vincesays:

      It was alright. That album came out of left field for me. The production is so far out there, it took a bit for me to get into it. Caged Bird Pt 1 and that Devin The Dude track were my shit though.

  6. Ramibensasisays:

    Great review. I think you got it spot on. The only disagreement I have is in regards to the John Legend track. It is a carbon copy of T.I.’s “Slide Show”. I understand the circumstances in which it came to be and how Lupe had nothing to do with it, I just don’t think it was a fitting, creative enough way to end the album. As for the rest of your review, I couldn’t have said it better myself. I think it’s clear which songs were Lupe’s choosing (subject matter, production style, lyrics and general energy), and had Atlantic allowed that to continue, or put some variety into the style of the songs, it could have been a great album even with their influence. Can’t wait for the next Lupe album (that’s fully his).

  7. Jahlil42says:

    Laser`s is a great album. Some people jus need to open up their minds more an see how this album ties into real life. I know this album can help with the hard times everybody are having if you get the message. i know this album helped me because i get the message in the music

  8. nyvansays:

    Garbage review.

  9. nyvansays:

    Garbage review.

  10. This review sums up my thoughts exactly. Biggest disappointment of this young year.

  11. Gcannonsays:

    I just bought the album today and this review is 100. Been a fan of Lupe since Fahrenheit 1/15 and that Enemy of the State he dropped last year was crack. Lasers is some bullshit pop music. Lupe’s the nicest lyricist out and you can’t even listen to dude spit over that glow stick lady gaga shit. And Even if you’re a Lupe fan he still has to get blamed. Shiiiit I paid for my cd, so if Lupe feels so bad he should give me a refund and then I won’t blame him. He’s eating off that bullshit

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