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Lupe Fiasco’s Comeback, Lasers review

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

Eminem’s Recovery review

It’s become almost a habit for rap artists to have their albums leaked on the Internet before their official release dates. Marshall Mathers is of course the latest artist to be a victim of the world wide web. His highly-anticipated album, Recovery, scheduled to release on June 22nd, was released earlier this week on the web. Is it a marketing stunt or an honest mistake from someone in Eminem’s entourage ? We’ll probably never know, but what is sure though, is that Eminem’s new album is absolutely amazing.

His last release, Relapse, received harsh criticism, and it deserved it. Eminem really delivered a sub-par album, and Encore, the one before that, was also a let down compared to his previous masterpieces. Slim Shady does his Mea Culpa on Recovery, admitting that his 2 last albums did not live up to the expectations, and he backs it up with some incredible beats and lyrics.

The album starts off with Cold Wind Blows, a track that awfully sounds like a Dre beat, but the credits say that Just Blaze produced it. This satiric song introduces the good old Em into this new 17-track CD. Then the album carries right into Talkin’ 2 Myself, featuring Kobe. The song takes the satire away and presents deep and emotional lyrics, which is one of my favorite songs on the album. Further down the tracklist, you’ll find incredible collaborations, including Won’t Back Down featuring Pink, which is probably the most unexpected artist to ever feature on an Eminem track. Love the way you lie is another emotional song with Rihanna singing the chorus, adding a lot of feeling to the track. Those two tracks are sure to invade radio waves in the coming weeks.

Lyric-wise, Marshall Mathers proves once again that he is probably the best lyricist to ever be born on this planet. The rhymes are incredible, his flow is unmatched and the honesty and the message delivered throughout his words are sure to make you rewind the songs a couple of times and give you shivers.

My expectations were sky-high for this album after Em dissed his own Relapse album on Not Afraid, his first single. Well, he definitely knows what the expression walk the talk means. This is an amazing album that is sure to make die-hard Slim Shady fans believe in their hero again after a couple of let downs. Eminem is back, stronger than ever.

Robin Hood review

This was probably the movie I anticipated the most so far this summer (there was actually a tie between Hood and Inception), so it was a formality that I go and see it as soon as I could, which was yesterday. Things started off great, with epic battle sequences in which the cinematography and editing were just top notch.

But then, the deception kind of kicked in. The trailer suggested a really dark representation of Robin Hood, kind of like what Christopher Nolan did to Batman. Right at the start of the movie, the script sneaks in a couple of funny lines, which break that dark mood from the beginning. Don’t get me wrong though, pretty much everyone is good in the movie. Crowe‘s performance is solid as usual, and so is Cate Blanchett‘s, but the writers gave them some lines that were just too cheesy.

On the cinematography side, this movie just delivers what you would expect from a Ridley Scott movie. Epic shots, mixed with some crazy travelings that make your head wonder how can such a camera movement is even possible. The editing and sound have nothing to complain about either.

Bottom line, this is a movie you have to see on the big screen. It is a good movie, that fails at being great because of some flaws in the script.