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Lupe Fiasco goes pop with “Lasers”

Lasers are shining beams of light that burn through the darkness of ignorance. Lasers shed light on injustice and inequality. Lasers act and shape their own destinies. Lasers find meaning and direction in the mysteries all around them. Lasers stand for love and compassion. Lasers stand for peace. Lasers stand for progression. Lasers are revolutionary. Lasers are the future. -Inside liner notes: “Lasers”

OK, I’ve come to the conclusion that rap music has become so diluted with filth that when real art appears barely anyone notices.  Or maybe it’s hard to recognize genius because it isn’t dumb down.

So when I read that Edwin Ortiz of hiphopdx.com gave Lupe Fiasco’s Lasers a two and a half out of five rating, I almost flipped.  That’s because I had already purchased the album and had listened to it twice before reading the review and knew better.

Yes, Lasers is more pop than his previous two albums Food and Liquor and The Cool but truthfully, that’s the beauty of it.  Lupe is able to, despite the issues with Atlantic Records, create a pop album that keeps his integrity. The album opens with ‘Letting Go’ which sets the tone of the record as one of gloom and despair — no doubt a reflection of what Atlantic put him through with this project.

‘Words I Never Said’ (which reminds me of ‘Hip Hop Saved my Life’ from The Cool) gives me the same feel as Eminem’s ‘Stan’ with Skylar Grey doing on the chorus of ‘Words’ what Dido did for ‘Stan.’ The track opens with the consciousness that has made Lupe beloved.

“I really think the war on terror is a bunch of bullshit/Just a poor excuse for you to use up all your bullets/… Your child’s future was the first to go with budget cuts/If you think that hurts then wait, here comes the uppercut/The school was garbage in the first place, that’s on the up and up.”

‘Till I get There’ is reminiscent of ‘Kick, Push’ from Food and Liquor with its playfulness and Trey Songz’ voice works well for the hook of ‘Out of my Head.’ ‘Beautiful Lasers (2 Ways)’ with MDMA is a track about coping with thoughts of suicide that works wonderfully with the blend of the music, including the guitar riff, and lyrical content.

Of the 12 tracks, ‘State Run Radio’ featuring Matt Mahaffey and ‘Break the Chain’ featuring Eric Turner and Sway aren’t as easily grabbable and seems more pop than necessary.

What people expected of Lasers, I have no clue.  But the album is art. Lupe Fiasco turned the music industry’s ugly clay into crystal pottery — only an artist can do that.

Lupe on Tavis Smiley after release of Lasers

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