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Speak of Freedom: Lupe Fiasco Failed Us All on “Lasers”

Posted by Brando on 12/23/11 | Filed under Features, Lupe Fiasco, Best of 2011, Speak of Freedom, Lasers
Lupe Fiasco All Black Everything
My, my, how did we get here?

It took three years and numerous oddball moments from an artist for us to almost completely write him off and then in the early hours of the day – his album leaks. Us being the society with a penchant of sampling the goods before making a purchase, cracked open a zip file, uploaded it to iTunes and began listening.

Twenty five minutes later, the folder from the zip file we thought was going to be at least four stars was immediately placed in the recycle bin and we asked ourselves to wash the stink off. You would think I would be writing that poisonous paragraph at some no named rapper who told the world via Twitter to download his new mixtape or album thinking it was going to be the best thing out. Sadly, I’m talking about Lupe Fiasco and the Fiasco of an album called "LASERS".

Let me get this out of the way first. As an artist, rapper, dude who spits metaphors and similes at the rate oil prices go up, Lupe Fiasco completely and unequivocally has earned my bottom dollar when it comes to his actual albums. Musically, he’s one of the best at conjuring up emotion whether it be anger or pride.

Outside of that, when he’s on Twitter spitting some 9/11 truther bullshit or bitching about a “list” that he would have gladly Diddy bopped to had he been on it, I can’t necessarily stand him (trust me, I’ve been here before when it was just the blogger backlash). I could blame the dichotomy of a social network for that but that’s beside the point. We’re here to talk about an album that sonically eradicated a fanbase and split it into disillusioned fragments.

Through various cop outs and pleas, I think the fans, or LASERS as Lupe affectionately refers to them, asked for this. Once the transparency between 2008 hip-hop and 2011 hip-hop was unveiled, we knew something was terribly wrong. Going to Complex to try and soften the blow of your album sucking because you don’t like some of the songs is one thing – telling fans you went into it as “another day, another dollar” is another.

Smart fans already knew when Trey Songz was added to the project, something was awry. To be honest, Songz hasn’t been in the position to give a decent hook about struggle since Saigon’s “Pain In My Life”. It’s ironic because Saigiddy and Lu shared labels and the same sort of label drama. Only Sai got off, told people he was going to come through with "The Greatest Story Never Told" and delivered possibly the best rap album in 2011 so far.

We don’t necessarily ask for hit records, the labels do. The same records Lupe abandoned were handed to B.o.B and Bobby Ray ran with them to the point of superstardom, making Lupe look like the lost child he is today. Raging against blogs for releasing his music without his command for any real reason besides his own paranoia proved to me that something may be wrong with Fiasco. If Fiasco hadn’t burned his bridge with these blogs then he would have at least given the fans a trial to see where the true direction of "LASERS" was going.

This isn’t like Kanye West releasing the bulk of "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy" on us weeks ahead of time and then reworking it to make it more crisp and clean, this is an artist who virtually released the album’s three best songs, “Show Goes On”, “Words I Never Said” & “All Black Everything” and then said nothing else. A man who was labeled the apparent savior of hip-hop hustles backwards. Didn’t think you’d hear that statement did you?

For the most part, the listeners shouldn’t be the ones so caught up in this backlash towards a single album and an artist; it should be those who actually protested for this thing to come out. Its attempts of progressive rock are almost as bad as the band who tries to strike up keys from Garage Band thinking they’re original. People took off from their jobs, rallied up to the offices of Atlantic Records and demanded an album.

They did that for you, Fiasco. Aren’t you supposed to give the people what they want, an album not necessarily in line with your first two works but rather an album that at least signifies something? This was supposed to be the music of a generation who were sick of tired of being told no, discriminated against, etc. Instead you give them something Fred Durst would gladly love to call an album but the only problem is – they hold you in a higher regard than that.

As a colleague of mine pointed out, Pimp C didn’t want to make "Big Pimpin", yet it made him more known nationally and made UGK more revered for it. There are numerous stories pointing that out, read "Decoded" if you need to. You are paid to make music, you have a choice. Had you said “fuck Atlantic, I’m doing me” and left and created the “Great American Rap Album” then all would be forgiven.

But by taking a holier than thou stance, it turned people off from the message you were trying to deliver. Being frustrated with something you worked hard for is understandable, but you’re still an artist. Not necessarily a slave to the system but rather someone who should know the give and take. You can’t say Atlantic didn’t market this properly because your music essentially owns ESPN at this point. If it’s true that they gave you a copy & paste rap album (i.e predetermined hooks & concepts thinking they KNOW the Lupe Fiasco sound) then don’t even do it. Wait even longer to release a project.

I can’t recall everything you’ve backtracked on since "Enemy of the State" had us all believing that "LASERS" was going to be quite the album. Same goes for the three leaks ahead of it, “I’m Beamin’”, “Go To Sleep” & “Shining Down”. Fans had hope then but getting their hopes up and then dashing them started this snowballing effect we’re witnessing now. No one really to blame except yourself, Wasulu.

In the end, you don’t necessarily lose because people are actually going to hear all this negativity and judge for themselves. But for those who stood out and demanded this, not only do they feel like sheep, they feel the sting of “I told you so’s” from many people who swore off of you previously.

All they wanted was a great album, not the techno babble mess of tracks with abysmal choruses like “State Run Radio”. All they wanted was Lupe Fiasco.

Did you give them that?

For a counterpoint article, "Why 'Lasers' Does NOT Suck", click here.

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