Review Summary: Satan plays this album on repeat, in hell. But then he has to turn it off because the demons get a headache.
In a recent interview, Lupe admitted he hated a lot of his third album Lasers. He said his record label Atlantic came to him with pre-written hooks from artists he had never expressed any interest in collaborating with or had even met. When an artist says they dislike their own album before it’s even released, prepare for yourself for audio hell.
What really makes this album terrible? The horrible wannabe top-40 production. Atlantic did their best to dumb this album down and it worked perfectly, I’ve listened to first track Letting Go multiple times and I’m still unsure what it’s about. You can tell immediately that record executives ignored Lupe’s pleas for production from Q-Tip and instead called David Guetta sound-a-likes. There’s overuse of auto-tune on Beautiful Lasers, an awkward feature by Trey Songz, a horrible techno beat used on Break The Chain, and more. This is bad, real bad.
Perhaps the only saving grace on Lasers is All Black Everything, and the two bonus tracks I’m Beaming and Shining Down. That is simply because they actually sound like Lupe, the two bonus tracks are from his original concept for the album and it shows because you can actually hear the lyrics without some annoying vocal effect or a whiny pop-star chorus.
Lyrically this is another superb album. But there’s nothing worse than listening to Lupe rap “Jihad is not a holy war, where’s that in the worship? Murdering is not Islam! And you are not observant. And you are not a Muslim. Israel don’t take my side cause look how far you’ve pushed them” over Bieber-esque pop synths and a winy chorus from flavour of the month Skylar Grey. Atlantic sacrificed cohesiveness for sounding “trendy,” with choruses that barely match song lyrics and themes that are all over the place. It’s particularly ironic listening to State Run Radio preaching about the negative aspects of top-40 radio, whilst sounding like a top-40 track at the same time.
This is one of those albums that relies so much on sounding trendy that it will sound outdated in two years whilst Straight Outta Compton will continue to sound as relevant as ever. The sad thing is that fans petitioned on the street for this album to be released and it was a commercial success. Lupe Fiasco is one of this generation’s great lyricists and possibly one of the only self-proclaimed “nerd” MCs who still manages to sound cool while talking about politics and without embracing typical rap clichés: swearing, guns etc. Sadly, just like his description of creating the album, listening to it is also “mentally destructive.”