Unlike Lupe’s previous albums, Lasers takes a break from the usual sounds fans expect to hear in an L-U-P-E project. With features from the likes of MDMA, John Legend and Trey Songz, Lasers is arguably the most commercial album Lupe has created to date. But this is not to brand Lupe’s shift in conventional sound as a negative one. As most fans know, Lupe struggled with getting his album released due to label executives worrying about its marketability. So while Lupe maintains his super lyrical content on many of the songs on the album, he created a few commercially marketable gems for both the radio and a new demographic of prospective fans. By making music that could satisfy both the fans and the label he was able to release Lasers and demonstrate his versatility as an artist.
With his up-tempo intro into Lasers titled Letting Go which features a heavily synthesized Fiasco backed by the soulful vocals of Sarah Green (Her vocals can also be heard on Lupe’s freshman and sophomore albums) and the audio production of The Future (Produced 4/12 tracks on LASERS) the song sports a collective of rock, hip-hop and even somewhat classical influences, while maintaining its Lupe-esque story-telling style. Spewing ominous rhymes like, “You’re getting heavy to hold. Think I’ll be letting you go” and “Burdens on my shoulders, now. Burning all my motives down. Inspiration drying up. Motivation slowing down.” reminiscent of the gloomy sophomore album The Cool, it seems to mirror the affliction caused by his highly publicized album troubles with Atlantic Records.
The title Letting Go can also be seen as a kind of play on words because the song alerts its listeners that Lupe is going to let go of The Cool and move forward with Lasers. The genre-bending song is a great starting point for the album and easily segues into his highly controversial hit Words I Never Said which features Skylar Grey’s vocals, a bass heavy beat produced by Alex Da Kid and lyrical content that would make a FOX News executive cringe. Sporting lines like, “I really think the war on terror is a bunch of bull$@!%.” and “9/11 building 7, did they really pull it?” definitely shows Lupe’s knack for delivering no-holds-barred content to the masses.
But, this dark presence and dim content turns brighter as listeners progress through the project. The audio journey begins to show some optimism in the Needlz produced track titled Till I Get There. Lupe addresses the initial album release problems at the start of the song, saying “Album on hold, whole world on hold” but features hopeful lyrics like, “… yeah I got flaws, I know I’m not perfect, but all my ups and downs will soon be worth it when I get there.” This is said to prove that Lupe is still on a journey to become the greatest artist, fighting to maintain his originality and authenticity in an industry overrun by doctored and coerced sounds, but he is hopeful and knows he will get himself and the album to where he wants them to be.
We also see a change in the demeanor of the album in tracks like I Don’t Wanna Care Right Now, Out of My Head, and Coming Up which are all faster paced, up-tempo easy to dance to tracks that don’t just have positive messages, but also a celebratory feel to them. Lasers could arguably be considered the light after the dark of The Cool, which was created at a rough time in Lu’s life when he’d just lost his father to diabetes and endured his good friend and business partner Charles “Chilly” Patton’s sentencing to 44 years in prison. Although the journey for getting Lasers a release date was an extensive one, it proves to have had a rewarding end. On a scale of one to ten, I would have to give Lasers a strong eight. I highly recommend that fans of hip-hop, Lupe Fiasco or just good music purchase the album with an open-mind and even wider opened ears. Whether you like thought-provoking lyrics, dance records, or rocking out, Lasers has something for everyone and proves that Lupe’s artistry will never be stopped because after all, The Show Goes On with LASERS!