“The ink of a scholar is worth a thousand times more than the blood of a martyr.” -Lupe Fiasco 2005
I still remember the first time I heard American Terrorist by Lupe Fiasco on his major label debut Food and Liquor. I thought that he was hip hop’s equivalent of the missing link, connecting hip hop to the world: finally a voice that speaks to the streets and intellectuals, the rebels and artists alike. Here was a cat who had no qualms putting himself between two sides of not only hip hop but of the political system as a whole. He questions the so-called status quo with a modernized rebel yell, and in turn forces listeners to do the same, to self reflect and self actualize oneself all while nodding their heads and feeling that ever present beat.
Lupe’s sophomore effort The Cool saw the evolution of one of music’s most dynamic minds. This album was a coming out party for Lupe Fiasco, and if that’s the case, then the release of LASERS to the world is a fulfillment of a prophecy of sorts.
Lupe Fiasco has hinted throughout his first two albums that LASERS would be the final chapter in his discography. If this album is to be considered the culmination of Lupe Fiasco’s career as a musician, he’ll still find himself in conversations as one of the greatest emcees of our generation.
LASERS opens with Letting Go (featuring Sarah Green), and Lupe’s verbal onslaught of his own vast vocabulary is on full display. He opens up his revolutionary arsenal on the following track, Words I Never Said which has Lupe calling out the system’s gaping holes and failures (“Your child’s future was the first to go with budget cuts/If you think that hurts, then wait, here comes the upper cut/The school was garbage in the first place, that’s on the up and up”) and exposing media big whigs for what they are (“Limbaugh is a racist, Glenn Beck is a racist, Gaza Strip was getting bombed, Obama didn’t say shit”).
From there, Lupe Fiasco goes on to make a complete album from front to back. On Till I Get There, Lupe goes through the process of prescribing an aspiring artist all the things they’ll need to succeed in the industry, showing the consequences of stardom.
I Don’t Wanna Care Right Now and Out of My Head (featuring Trey Songz) exemplify Lupe’s growing versatility and ability to balance responsibility to the people and having some fun. Life can’t always be serious, and it can’t always just be a joke. Lupe Fiasco gets that. He wants you to get it, too. So let’s dance a little, shall we?
That brings me to my new favorite song, not just on LASERS, but in general: All Black Everything. On this track, Lupe futuristically recreates a history in which racism ceases to exist. (Chorus: You will never know what you can ever be/If you never try you will never see/Stayed in Africa, we ain’t never leave/So there were never slaves in our history/No slave ships, no misery/Call me crazy or isn’t he?/See I fell asleep and I had a dream/It was all black everything).
LASERS ends on an emotional chord with Never Forget You (featuring John Legend). It may be the last track on LASERS, but could this song be the last of Lupe’s career?
With talks of retirement from the game and dissatisfaction with production of this album coming from Lupe himself, it is not far-fetched to think that Lupe Fiasco’s discography will end as a trilogy. Curiosity swells around speculation as to what field he might find himself in after hanging up his mic. Politics? City of Chicago? Humanitarian? Only time will tell, but for now you should just enjoy LASERS and leave the rest of the details to be determined by the man himself.