When an artist admits that he doesn’t even fully back his own release, how much stake can fans put into the work?
Since 2007, hip-hop MC Lupe Fiasco has been hard at work on the follow up to his acclaimed album, “The Cool”, which gained praise for the singles “Superstar” and “Paris, Tokyo”. The follow-up came to fruition with “Lasers,” an album that was set back numerous times by complications with his record label Atlantic.
Executives felt that the album wasn’t as marketable as they wanted and initially refused to release it, finally agreeing to liberate the project after a strenuous three years of delays, ultimately causing the rapper to lose faith in his own work.
The final product will leave listeners mostly agreeing with Lupe’s ultimate dissatisfaction.
The majority of the album is full of pop hip-hop songs, heavy on auto-tuned choruses and techno beats, such as “Out of My Head” which includes a hook by Trey Songz, and some of Fiasco’s corniest lyrics to date: “You don’t care if I’m ill or a millionaire/ The only thing that matters that the feeling’s there/ Your smile is so bright/ it’s like a grill’s in there.” This is not the Lupe Fiasco fans once adored, with socially-conscious lyrics being delivered over melodically dark beats.
While “Lasers” is filled with radio and club ready dance songs, it has standouts that remind us why Fiasco really is one of the best. “Words I Never Said, ” featuring a drum heavy beat and a chorus by female soul singer Skylar Grey, is a controversial track that has Lupe calling out the American government on just about everything that comes to the MC’s mind: “I really think the war on terror is a bunch of bulls—/ Just a poor excuse for you to use up all your bullets/ How much money does it take to really make a full clip?/ 9/11 building seven/ did they really pull it?”
Lupe has long been recognized as a front runner in today’s hip-hop world due to his lyrical skill and delivery, yet even the best artists run into trouble. It isn’t fair to call this album “bad,” but this is a prime example of what happens when a talented artist finds themselves backed into a corner by contracts and label complications.