Wednesday, 2 March 2011
REVIEW: LUPE FIASCO: LASERS
Let's hope this isn't Lupe's end with this lightening release.
Ever since Lupe Fiasco kicked and pushed his way into the music game with his debut 'Food & Liquor' he has provided the industry with refreshing, food for thought rhymes. Giving Chicago rap it's second-wind along with Kanye West, Common and Twista, Chi-town's finest has established his own legend while standing in the shadow of greatness in rap like Scottie Pippen did in basketball. After his classic debut, the geeked out of this world M.C didn't slump with his sensationally versatile, superior sophomore release, 'The Cool' . An album named after one of the best tracks off his first album.
Lupe's first two discs came in rapid succession, but his third and supposed last (which originally was meant to be a three disc set entitled 'Lupe3nd' or 'The Great American Rap album') was stuck on the shelf between label problems and release date push backs. Still the Bruce Willis, die-hard, lobbying fans have been tied over by things like Lupe's supergroup with Kanye and Pharrell (Children Of The Corn) or like-minded, like-talented rappers (Kid Cudi). Now, however the firm fiasco is finally back with a truly great American rap album, 'Lasers'. A stunning effort, aimed to raise the spirit of the down-trodden and so called 'losers'. Losers they are not as Lupe heralds them as 'Lasers' with a strobe striking metaphor.
So after a potential three disc was left on the cutting room floor, there was one and with a concise, 12 song set the Linkin Park of hip-hop starts with The Future produced, 'Letting Go'. With a distorted voice Lupe sounds unrecognisable but unmistakeably great as he brings beautifully talented protegee, Sarah Green along for the ride. After that Fiasco brings aboard, Youtube star and rising talent Skylar Grey for 'Words I Never Said'. The star in the making-who barely has any press photos-but has blessed the massive Diddy Dirty Money single 'Coming Home' and the Dr. Dre and Eminem cut, 'I Need A Doctor' takes it further to the galaxy of stars on this futuristic, introspective hip-hop cut.
Then on the Needlez produced 'Till I Get There', Lupe takes it back to the old-school to a fine point, with a precision perfect, uplifting jam. If you want to talk about uplifting, the inspiring 'The Show Goes On' picks up where 'Superstar' left off almost an unbelievable, half decade back. The hip-hop hero saves the charts life with a super single, making it feel like his star-talent never left the mainstream even though it's been four, long...long years. With every verse Fiasco takes the inspiration higher with lines like "One in the air for the people that ain’t here/Two in the air for the father that’s there/Three in the air for the kids in the ghetto/Four for the kids who don’t wanna be there". No matter how high this song scales the charts, it has unparalleled height in heart.
There is great developing talent, production on this album and guest spots from everyone from British rapper Sway to Mr. 'Steal Your Girl', Trey Songz. Still it's when Fiasco forms with up and coming producer The Future, or ecstasy feel-good artist MDMA where things look their best brightest. Both combine with Lupe on 'Beautiful Lasers (2 Ways)' for the perfect hip-hop menage. Still despite the great guest spots in support, it's the superstar that illuminates the track like neon on a Las Vegas night. Lupe then raises his game to an even higher note on 'Coming Up'. Over Dr. Dre esque piano the rapper proves he has more bounce with every ounce of his rhymes. On the cut 'Break The Chain', Fiasco goes to his underground, 'Blackout' flow and beat riding or a stunning track.
The clean, anarchy painted artwork of 'Lasers' is reminiscent of the arty Jay-Z video 'On To The Next One' and with the song 'All Black Everything' Lupe borrows a famous line from the track of his mentor and executive producer of his first album. Over haunting choruses, Lupe raises spirits with his verses, showing he really is on to the next something. John Legend guests up to play us out on 'Lasers' closer 'Never Forget You' as the two artists get warm and nostalgic with a lasting impression that will be remembered for time.
Overall 'Lasers' has two striking soundscapes. One being introspective, Fiasco like deep cuts and the other being chart-worthy songs tailor made for the radio, but in Lupe's signature style. What results is an album that takes Fiasco even further out this world as he remains true to himself, all while appealing more to the mainstreams ear. Sure with this fine-line shooting, there are some misfires and with a clean cut dozen tracks you know you'll be missing out on those trademark stellar Fiasco B-sides for your collection. Still, this is what makes the enigmatic rapper that more sought after and even with all this, 'Lasers' is still a striking, electric album. So futuristic but right now too, with an old-school flavour. The main over-arching theme of this album however is positivity overcoming negativity as Fiasco gets his Bob Marley on and lights up the darkness. As the super talent shoots for the stars, 'Lasers' propels him forward at light speed. Let's just hope his next shot is here a little quicker. Warp speed would be preferred. TIM DAVID HARVEY.