"To every man, woman & child... We want an end to the glamorization of negativity in the media. We want an end to status symbols dictating our worth as individuals. We want a meaningful and universal education system. We want substance in the place of popularity. We will not compromise who we are to be accepted by the crowd. We want the invisible walls that separate by wealth, race & class to be torn down. We want to think our own thoughts. We will be responsible for our environment. We want clarity & truth from our elected officials or they should move aside. We want love not lies. We want an end to all wars foreign & domestic violence. We want an end to the processed culture of exploitation, over-consumption & waste. We want knowledge, understanding & peace. We will not lose because we are not losers, we are lasers! Lasers are revolutionary. Lasers are the future."
And so goes the story of one Wasalu Muhammad Jaco, known to the musical universe as Lupe Fiasco. It has been a long time coming for the lyricist supreme from the Windy City. Languishing with label woes for the better part of the past few years due to Atlantic Records refusal to release the album, Lupe finally managed to garner petitioned support for L.A.S.E.R.S. to hit stores March 8th. Of course, I had to pick up this album to see if Lupe allowed label politics to shift his lyrical views and lean towards that pop lane that other artists have been travelling recently. L.A.S.E.R.S., an acronym meaning "Love Always Shines Everytime Remember To Smile", has been highly anticipated since Lupe announced that he would be retiring after releasing Grammy nominated The Cool in 2007. Does this album live up to all of the advanced hype?
Starting off this album you have "Letting Go", featuring Sarah Green. With Lupe's voice being altered just a tad bit to give more effect to his lyrical performance, you would think this song would set the mood for the album. In a way, it does, giving L.A.S.E.R.S. an anthemic, stadium feel remininscent of recent Kanye. However, the musical soundscape doesn't quite fit the powerful lyrics from Lupe Fiasco. Truthfully, this is a running theme throughout the album. Standout cuts on this musically uneven album include "Words I Never Said", featuring vocals from Skylar Grey, "Coming Up" (featuring MDMA), and "All Black Everything". I was surprised that I didn't find more redeeming qualities with most of the album, because I believed in my heart of hearts that Lupe would be able to effectively bridge that gap between underground and commercial without compromising sound or lyricism. Lyricism doesn't take a back seat on the album; however, the musical selections leave much to be desired. Because the tracks don't fit within the lyrical landscape that Lupe has created, the album overall feels uneven. I'm spoiled, because the only conceptual song on the entire album that feels like something from Food And Liquor or The Cool would be "All Black Everything". Produced by The Buchanans, this track serves Fiasco very well by driving home the message of race from an inverted viewpoint. Now this is the Lupe we all know and love! Too bad the rest of this album doesn't reach this level lyrically or sonically.
Twelve songs, three winners. I am definitely not someone to down or negate contributions within hip hop, but I'm disappointed at this point with the album. I'm spoiled because Lupe has been the one to carry that lyrical torch, in my mind, for the better part of the past five years or so. I do hope that Lupe Fiasco finds that balance that he is seeking, because L.A.S.E.R.S. doesn't quite hit the mark. I will allow the album to marinate for about a week or two and revisit it to see if my impression changes.