Yes hip-hop heads, your 3 year wait is finally over. On March 8th, we will FINALLY get a long-awaited release from the one and only Lupe Fiasco. After Lupe gave us his classic (not used lightly) second album “The Cool” in late 2007, it was clear that he was one of the most creative artists out and one of the best lyricists we’ve seen in a long time. The album garnered high praise from both critics and fans alike, and gave him his first smash hit with “Superstar.” Prior to the album’s release, Lupe had already told fans that his next album, at that time titled “LupE.N.D,” would be coming shortly thereafter. After the label refused to set a date for the album, some pushbacks, a few title changes, more label drama, a valiant fan protest, talk of retirement, a couple of mixtapes, and a few more leaks, Lupe will finally bless us with his 3rd album, now called “L@sers” (pronounced Lasers). The music heads here at #TheThreadBlog have gotten their hands on an advanced copy of the album. The question is, does it live up to the hype?
A few days before the album leaked, I came across an interview over at Complex Magazine entitled “Lupe Fiasco Hates His Own Album.” Thinking this was a bit strange, I read the interview, which was basically Lupe bitching about how he liked the album itself but hated the politics behind the album, blah blah blah. He also talked about how at least two of the records on the album, including the smash hit “The Show Goes On,” (seen below) were completely manufactured without his input, and all he did was put some verses on them. Feeling a bit odd about this revelation a week before his album dropped, I was still excited for the album. I had already heard the the singles as well as “Words I Never Said” and “All Black Everything” and I really enjoyed them all, (though there were some real issues with “Words”, as we blogged about awhile back) so I was as ready as ever to hear the album.
Well…sadly, other than the tracks I’ve mentioned so far, this album really is nothing to speak of. Overall, the production is extra-pop like and stands as a stark opposite to his previous effort. While I did not expect as dark an album as “The Cool,” how are you gonna put the “anarchy” sign on the cover and come out with all these pop tracks? “I Don’t Wanna Care Right Now” is the perfect example of this. The beat sounds like a throwaway Neptunes beat (The Neptunes didnt do the track…some dudes called The Audibles did) and Lupe raps about…well…nothing. The hook is even worse. Lupe also teams up with Trey Songz on “Out Of My Head,” which is about a girl, and is as generic as you might imagine. “Beautiful Lasers” is one of the worst songs he’s ever made, equipped with an auto-tuned hook and an annoying stop-and-go flow that does nothing to the ears. The beat is also generic as hell, though the lyrics arent bad.
Speaking of lyrics…and I know this will be hard to believe…but there are very few verses that stand out as on Lupe’s pre-established level of greatness. Most of the verses sound like they were written in one day and recorded the same day. This entire album screams with a lack of hunger and focus. This happens to a good number of artists after they find critical or financial success, but I never expected this out of Lupe. He also has a gang of guest appearances on his album, including 3 songs (or 1/4 of the album) with some band called MDMA who suck ass.
Not all of the tracks are awful. “Letting Go,” which serves as the album’s intro, and “Till I Get There” are OK songs, but they really aren’t special, and I doubt people will be listening to them in 3 months. “State Run Radio” is a catchy song and, at least content-wise, is a bit more in tune with his more serious content. However, even that song suffers from being a bit too up-tempo for the message it is trying to convey. “Break the Chain” is a bit more somber and has a nice hook, but it (literally) has a techno based beat by some guy name Ishi. Hearing Lupe over Lupe was a bit jarring, but this is one of the few songs where Lupe shines lyrically, even though the song is really about nothing (recurring theme). However, some random ass dude named Sway (no, I don’t think its that guy from MTV) takes up the middle verse and adds nothing to the song. “Never Forget You” is a John Legend feature (one of the ones that Lupe had nothing to do with) and its a strong track where Lupe reminisces about his past, and also serves as the album’s outro. Although good, it also suffers from not being very memorable.
On the positive side, “Words I Never Said,” “The Show Goes On,”” (a song that Lupe does not care for although its one of his biggest hits to date) and “All Black Everything” are all gems. On “All Black Everything,” Lupe takes us through a dream of his where black people are not only equal, but in power, and he witnesses such unfathomable events as Bill O’Reilly reading the eulogy at Malcolm X’s funeral, black people being awarded the “Mandela Peace Price,” and a “Little Black Sambo grows up to be a lawyer” (LOL). However, these highlights are few and far between on L@sers.
In fact, two of the leaked tracks that didn’t make the album (“Shining Down,” “I’m Beamin”) were alot better than most of the tracks that actually did make the album. And speaking of “Shining Down,” WHERE THE HELL WAS MATHEW SANTOS ON THIS ALBUM?!?!? This was another fatal flaw of this particular album.
At the end of the day, we may not ever really know who takes most of the blame for this album’s lack of quality, whether it be Lupe himself, the label, or MDMA. (seriously…who the fuck are these guys? I couldn’t even find them on Wikipedia! Naming your band after ecstasy though? #fail) We do know who the losers are though (no pun intended). Us. All of us fans that have been waiting 3 years for this. Our only hope now may be for Lupe to go independent and put out the music that he REALLY wants to do. This may not happen though, as he may be too focused on his “Punk Rock” band and all that…FML.
This one hurt me to write guys. I mean, for Christ’s sake, my username is based off a Lupe Fiasco character. But, I can only give yall the truth…After all this waiting and hype too? Man, this doesn’t bode well for Detox…
Overall Grade: C