Inconsistent Follow-Up Buries MC In Self-Pity

Lupe Fiasco
Lasers
Atlantic

It’s never a good sign when an artist publicly expresses distaste for his unreleased album. Or worse, when that same artist says that he was contemplating suicide while working on it.

Needless to say, this hasn’t been a good year for Lupe Fiasco.

While working on his third studio album, Lasers (a name interestingly divested of the sense of ownership proudly displayed on the rapper’s past two albums, Lupe Fiasco’s Food and Liquor and Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool), Fiasco fought with his label, Atlantic Records, for creative control. Those struggles manifested throughout the album, creating a musical dichotomy; Lupe spits best on the tracks that are unlistenable, boasting with over-produced bravado that frequently degenerates into incoherent white noise.

“State Run Radio (ft. Matt Mahaffey)” is a guitar-heavy mess; the rifts keep coming, intertwining with an auto-tuned, Teletubby-like Mahaffey. Suddenly the beat jerks away, leaving a deadening vacuum of tinkling as Fiasco spits rhymes. The effect is akin to a musical hangover worse than one achieved after a night of guzzling tequila.

On the other half of the album, presumably the parts more influenced by his label, Fiasco raps in a dull monotone, as the Top-40 production rushes ahead without him. Despite the artist’s clear disinterest, these tracks are some of the most successful. Single “The Show Goes On” touts a frenetic electronic horn and slow beat that quickens at the break into every hook, overlaid by the same care-free, buttery vocal aesthetic that won Fiasco platinum on “Superstar.”

Sadly, the album works best when Fiasco turns down the theatrics. For longtime fans of the Chi-town native, it’s a definite fiasco — just not the one they know best. (4/10)

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