Lupe Fiasco: LASERS


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Lupe Fiasco - Lasers

Erin Donaldson discusses tracks on Lupe Fiasco's latest studio effort.

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After three years of dedicated production, one would expect Lupe Fiasco's third album to be a solid addition to his acclaimed discography. Instead, he has given us Lasers, a half-hearted venture into commercial rap. Lupe has repeatedly complained about corporate intervention with his vision for the album, and now the finished product speaks for itself. The once-inspiring lyricist now raps about feeling used and contemplating suicide, while most of the tracks feature paradoxically uplifting choruses and club beats. It's as if he tried to sneak a "stick it to the man" message in the midst of a record that embodies all of pop music's latest trends.

It's never a good sign when you have to listen closely for an artist's contributions on his own album. Lasers boasts a hefty list of featured artists who, known or unknown, seem to play a much larger role on the album than Lupe himself. While drawn-out guest choruses appeared in his previous albums, they never outweighed his solo material like they do here. It seems like a strange choice for Lupe to make on his most personal album. As he points out in "Out of My Head," "You're a real good chorus, I'm a real good verse," but it's hard to believe that this is how he actually sees himself.

Even more disappointing than Lupe's lack of involvement is his lack of spirit. His confident and level-headed lyricism made his past efforts unique. Among a generation of predominately self-indulgent rappers, Lupe has acted as an optimistic voice of reason, relying more on observation and storytelling than self-reflection. Contrary to this, Lasers is a bitter, self-pitying autobiographical work. It's heartbreaking to see such a positive figure in the hip-hop community become so tormented, especially when it compromises his talent.

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