When I discovered Lupe Fiasco back in 2006, his sound filled an empty musical void in my life. Fresh and elaborated melodies combined with profound lyrics that didn’t speak about money, rims and hoes made it something unique that really struck me. I listened to Food & Liquor countless times, and fortunately for me, just 15 months later, Lupe dropped his second album, The Cool, which was as good as the first one. Since then though, Lupe has been featured on a couple of tracks and released a few mixtapes, but hasn’t released a real EP to respond to the demands of fans. Well, in 6 days from now, the wait will finally be over, when Lupe releases his 3rd studio album, Lasers. As usual, the ever wonderful Internet has prematurely leaked the album on the World Wide Web, and I just couldn’t wait another 140 hours to listen to what I’ve been waiting for for the last 4 years.
Let’s go straight to the point. The album is incredible, from the first few seconds, to the amazing closing track, Never Forget You, featuring John Legend. As it was the case on both of Lupe’s previous albums, the production is amazing. Each and every song has great musical depth, and the beats are once again original, stepping out of the traditional recipe of hip-hop. Only 12-track long, the album is a bit short, compared to his precedent 16 and 19-track long EPs, but hey, I’ll take 12 great tracks over any 15-or-more-tracks album where half of them or less than average.
Lupe brought a whole arsenal of producers to this album, from Alex da Kid to The Neptunes, and many more. This is clearly apparent from the various types of beats that are featured on Lasers. Some very intense, darker melodies intertwine with some really clear, upbeat tracks, while still maintaining a beautiful uniformity from song to song. The album also has a ridiculous line-up of collaborating artists: John Legend, Trey Songz and rising-star Skylar Grey, just to name a few. Each of these immensely-talented individuals bring a new soul to every song they’re featured on, and really make it a plus-value for the entire album.
Lyric-wise, Lupe Fiasco stands pretty close to perfection. His flow, at times very fast-paced, at other times more relaxed, just feels natural, 100% of the time. It never seems forced nor struggling. And again, Fiasco’s words are very engaged, both socially and politically, something that’s become more and more of a rare thing in today’s hip-hop. He doesn’t hold back on anything, whether its religion, politics or racism.
I’m not going to do a track-by-track critique, because honestly, they’re all good. But I have to mention how beautiful the first song with long-time collaborating artist Sarah Green is. It is probably one of the strongest tracks to ever open a hip-hop album, matching the caliber of A Dream from Jay-Z, Good Morning from Kanye West or White America from Eminem, while being totally different. Plus, the transition between this soothing song into the agressive melody of Words I Never Said, is such a strong contrast that it grasps you even more. In that last song, Lupe goes all out, and speaks about everything that’s on his mind, from September 11th, the Jihad, Barack Obama, Rush Limbaugh, pharmaceutics… This is a song that I hope will get the airplay it deserves, and that conservative radio stations will not be afraid of playing it because of the subjects it speaks of.
There are a lot of things in this review that remain unsaid about this unbelievably good album, but I’ve only listened to it twice before writing this post, so I feel I don’t know it enough to keep on going. The only thing I have to say is that the wait was worth it. This last year has been a very good one for hip-hop, and Lupe Fiasco’s Lasers has not only kept the streak alive, it has raised the bar to a sky-high level.
The album will be available in North America on Tuesday, March 8th. I strongly suggest any music fan (not just hip-hop fans) to get a hold of it. This is something that is sure to spark interest in any music lover.
You can pre-order it on iTunes already, and there are even 6 tracks already available: Lasers iTunes Pass