Not A Lasers Review: A Note About Lupe Fiasco
“They Call Me Lupe”
Call me a late bloomer, my first hip-hop album was Lupe Fiasco’s 2006 release Food & Liquor. I first heard the album in a Hopkins rented van on the way to a debate tournament. Everyone in the van was complaining about our driver’s (fellow team member’s) taste in music – “he’s always listening to ghetto rap,” they said. He was also always getting speeding tickets and getting lost. That’s not besides the point; it took us four hours to drive from Baltimore to Philadelphia and more than a few times through Food & Liquor and Kanye’s Late Registration.
Despite being primed to reject our driver’s “ghetto rap”, I thought the music was the only thing that made the miserable four-hour drive bearable. I had formed some sort of bond with this rap – like we had gone through a hardship together. When I got home, I couldn’t remember the name of anything I had listened to so I shamefully asked our driver to disclose his musical taste.
He pointed me towards Lupe Fiasco – who was at the time an emerging artist. I think I was drawn to the singer-songwriter quality of Lupe’s music. He integrated his verses skillfully into his beats samples. It was as if his verses were cradled by the music. I also fell in love with Lupe in “Hurt me Soul” – “I used to hate hip-hop… yup, because the women degraded. But Too $hort made me laugh, like a hypocrite I played it.” As former hip-hop hater, he and I bonded over this as well. And what girl doesn’t fall for that line?
Lupe got me through freshman year at Hopkins. The music felt close to home – like I was listening to a high school kid rap about skateboarding and girls. In reality Lupe is only three years older than me, but he is also a chi town conqueror. Yet, something about Lupe’s music was relatable – maybe simply because it was so personal. No one else out there was going to write those verses. They weren’t just “good” or clever, they were unique to Lupe, his life, interests, observations and grievances.
Lasers has just moved so far away from the Lupe that I fell in love with. The political verses make it sound like not only things anyone could say, but things everyone does say. The full, overproduced choruses make the music easily identifiable with everything I hear (unfortunately) at clubs and bars. Finally, the “art” seems to careless and thoughtless – his verses are no longer “cradled” by the music and the singer-songwriter quality is gone. Instead, the songs are explosions of verbal ranting interrupted by loud choruses. There is a lack of finesse and personality.
Tags: Lupe Fiasco
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