I’ve never been one of Lupe’s Lasers, Losers or Sun Beams or whatever his loyal contingent of protesting diehards call themselves. But I’ve been a pretty big Lupe fan. Watching his career path over the last three years has been depressing. We all know about the label dispute, the anti-blog rants and the lackluster leaks, but Lasers was supposed to be the light at the end of the tunnel.
Well that light is a bright, beaming electro-pop-filled ray of utter garbage that Will.I.Am wouldn’t be caught dead singing along to. The lyrics are lazy. The hooks are trite and played out. The production is something out of a shopping trip to Banana Republic. Gone is anything resembling The Cool or Food & Liquor (Sidenote: The Cool is kind of like Donnie Darko in that it’s really awesome aesthetically but I have no clue what’s going on through most of it). Lasers is just a lazy fiasco.
Apparently, Lupe knew he put out a lackluster effort so he sent a preemptive strike during an interview with Complex. He disparages the “the process” of the album being created but turned around and defended its quality.
“I don’t like the process behind Lasers. The music is dope but I just don’t like the process. We were literally at the point where all this music was done except for a couple songs that we did after the protest. So the bulk of the album was done.”
Lupe apologists are going to turn to his interview and say, “Hey! Lupe didn’t want to make this album! It doesn’t really count.” But let’s face the facts: Fiasco still defended the quality of his work. We know which songs he didn’t want to make: “The Show Goes On” and “Never Forget You.” But did he want to make the rest of that techno-babble that infects this half-baked farce? If so, there aren’t any excuses. Dear Lupe, you’re on a major label and being asked to make a radio hit to appease your bosses is part of the game. I never asked B.o.B., but I don’t think it was his idea to throw Bruno Mars and the guy from
Vampire Weekend Weezer on his album. Still, Bobby made the best of the situation and turned those into hits. Lupe, though, approached his song with an “another day, another dollar” approach that, regardless of how bad his label circumstance is, isn’t excusable.
Allow me to quote Waka Flocka Flame: “Can’t nobody make you make any music you don’t wanna make. Remember that.” Even if a song is thrown in an artist’s face, it’s his job to turn it into something better.
Pimp C didn’t want to make “Big Pimpin’” and Biggie didn’t want to make “Juicy” but they still turned those into great records. You “Lasers” out there can try to use Lupe’s crying to rally behind him, but Lasers is all on his shoulders, especially in light of the fact that Saigon dropped a borderline classic album that he felt so strongly enough about to hold it for almost half a decade.
Personally, I find this whole situation ironic. Lupe, who’s made a habit of bitching about bloggers “stealing” his music, would really have benefited from leaking more of these tracks to get a litmus test on how well they’ll be received. Hint: we wouldn’t have liked it. Lupe is so dead set on his anti-free music approach that he didn’t utilize the resources the Internet provides. Instead, we all downloaded the project yesterday and were taken totally off guard by how utterly horrible the album was.
Lupe, apparently, was taken aback by how awful people thought his latest project is, as well:
“I never thought lasers would inspire so much negativity. Reading the comments and reactions is crushing,” the Chi-Town rapper wrote. “To all the Lupe fans who protested and petitioned you did a GREAT thing. Don’t let people belittle what u achieved. You forced a massive corporation to bow to the whim of the people. Thats a glorious thing. Love always shines everytime remember 2 smile has always been a “note2self” the product of trying to figure a reason to keep going.”
Yes, Lasers. Be proud of what you did to get the album out. But I can’t help but feeling that all of those protesters are shaking their heads right now and feeling let down. They begged for a Lupe album sight unseen because they believed in the music. Fiasco, with his “oh well, it’s money in my pocket” approach, betrayed their trust. Honestly, if the Lasers album we have now more or less is what slid across the Atlantic desks, I don’t blame them for holding out on it for three years. I wouldn’t have wanted the world to hear this mess either.
We are not losers. But thanks to Lasers, we all lost.