After a series of delays and disputes with the Atlantic Records, on March 8 Lupe Fiasco released “Lasers,” a collection of overwrought tracks that plays on rap's worst musical trends.
Fiasco, who has been an industry rebel from the beginning, was apparently forced to compromise some of his artistic vision on “Lasers,” and it really shows on tracks like “The Show Goes On.”
Not only does it have a bad, sped up sample of an indie rock staple, Modest Mouse's “Float On,” Fiasco raps like a T.I. impersonator. This sounds like a record label's step-by-step process of how to make a rapper sound credible while appealing to the masses.
On “Words I Never Said,” Fiasco criticizes both sides of the political spectrum, calling Glenn Beck a racist, and trumpeting not voting for Barack Obama, while taking shots at the media, “If you turn on TV all you see's a bunch of what the fucks, dude is dating so and so blabbering about such and such, and that ain't Jersey Shore homie, that's the news.”
Although Fiasco displays some of his lyrical wizardry on the song, the music itself is muddled down by heavy synthesizers and a chorus sung by Skylar Grey, who sounds like Rihanna without an accent.
The dance-poppy “I Don't Want to Care Right Now” recalls a bad Timbaland production, with another vocal guest, MDMA.
If ecstasy were a singer, it would not be MDMA, and his singing with the cheesy synthesizers during the chorus create a bad European club atmosphere.
One of the better tracks, “Till I Get There,” sounds like the Fiasco of 2006's “Lupe Fiasco's Food and Liquor” with ideas of staying positive and working through difficult times.
“Doctor, doctor please, the fame ain't painless enough, that's 'cause you ain't famous enough, you got a little name, but your name ain't ringing enough,” Fiasco raps about what seems to be his frustrations throughout the whole process of “Lasers.”
In 2007, “The Cool” received four Grammy nominations and a Billboard Top 40 hit in “Superstar,” one of Fiasco's best songs.
What more does an artist have to do to have more creative reins over their music? Atlantic Records should take a tip from Sean “Diddy” Combs who allowed Janelle Monáe complete control over her genius debut last year, released under Bad Boy Entertainment.
Not only was her album completely original, it was refreshing, and Fiasco who has been a breath of fresh air in mainstream rap with his clever rhymes and unique outlook, should not have to sacrifice his imagination to sell records.
- James Vu