Lasers' reaches half its potential: Hip-Hop Weekly

Posted by Jenna Postler

Anyone who knows me knows how big of a Lupe Fiasco fan that I am.

One of my first and favorite concerts that I've ever attended was when I saw Fiasco with my brother at a small Vermont college.

His first two albums, "Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor," and "Lupe Fiasco's The Cool," are two of my favorite hip-hop albums.

When I reported on the long overdue release date being set for his third album, "Lasers" this past fall, I was ecstatic.

A few days before the album's release on March 8, in an interview with Complex.com, Fiasco said, "But when I think about what it took to actually get the record together ... I hate this album."

As a fan, it's always disheartening to hear that the artist's work isn't what they had wanted it to be. Even after reading the interview, I was eager to hear just what "Lasers" was about.

Admittedly, some of the release sounds like a bad pop/techno record. For instance, the first 30 seconds of "Break The Chain" featuring Eric Turner and Sway sounds like a tasteless record one would hear at a cheap dance club.

Fiasco fans can easily spot the artists who Fiasco may have been pressured into featuring on some of the tracks.

Suspicion of label intervention is apparent with the inclusion of R&B singer Trey Songz's appearance on "Out of My Head."

"Beautiful Lasers (2 Ways)" suffers from a painful auto tune chorus, but if you can get past that, Lupe's lyrics are fantastic.

"State Run Radio" featuring Matt leaves listeners scratching their heads, trying to understand the pairing of a Lil' Wayne "Rebirth"esque beat and pop chorus slipped in between Fiasco's comments on the popular music industry.

Perhaps Fiasco's comments on the current state of the media would be better stated on a song without an extremely obnoxious hook.

That being said, some of the tracks sport a glimmer of the talented, fast, intelligent rapping Fiasco of years past.

On "All Black Everything," Fiasco raps about racism, slavery and popular news with a hauntingly original beat.

A staple of Fiasco's original style is his ability to build rhymes with meaning, which is what we see on "All Black Everything," when the artist raps: "Martin Luther King read the eulogy for him/ Followed by Bill O'Reilly who read from the Quran/ President Bush sends condolences from Iran/ Where FOX News reports live/ That Ahmadinejad wins Mandela peace prize."

Fiasco raps about poverty and success on "Never Forget You": "The hookers on the corner and the kids sellin' crack/The needles in the yard where we used to play catch/Stories from the project we could never go at/Or to, these are shades of my youth/ Trials of a child, everything truth."

"Never Forget You," serves to remind us that when Fiasco is good, he's really good. He has the ability to stick to a subject and theme and a song without becoming stale.

Another memorable track is "Words I Never Said" featuring up-and-coming singer Skylar Grey, on which Fiasco raps not about drugs, girls or money, but instead, world affairs.

Fiasco's vocabulary is exemplary for any scholar, let alone a popular artist.

Although "Lasers" has a more commercial sound to it than Fiasco's previous albums, to simply say that Fiasco "sold out" is an ignorant and ill-informed comment.

In reviewing the artist's album, it's important to consider the context in which it was created, and to understand how creative control may have been taken from the artist.

While it is upsetting to listen to some of the album, some of the old Fiasco, the one I saw in concert as a teen, is still present.

As fans we can hope for future releases to sound like the alternative, real Fiasco that we love.

Jenna Postler is a sophomore from rural Vt. who knows what's hip (hop) and can be heard from 2 - 4 a.m. every Friday morning on WSPN.

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