Ah, Lupe Fiasco. He’s been dubbed ‘the thinking man’s Kanye West’ (amongst many other dubious titles), but regardless of how you define him, the 28-year-old Chicago native has taken the hip-hop world by storm since the release of his début album in 2006. Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor showed some serious skills, most notably on infectiously catchy and original ‘Kick, Push’, but still had a few issues to overcome; call it inexperience, call it exuberance, but either way there was scope for improvement. The album had a few absolutely cracking tracks on it, but there were also a few which didn’t quite hang together.
However, what Food & Liquor did do was open the door for what proved to be a wonderful second record. Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool, an honest-to-God rap concept album, was a quasi-miraculous achievement, chronicling the ups and inevitable downs of a ghetto rap star. It had some devastatingly sick tracks, politically motivated hooks which made West’s ‘Diamonds From Sierra Leone’ sound like a half-hearted plea. Much like Kanye, Lupe showed a far more mature edge on his second album’s rhymes, satirising off the standard rap clichés and actively disparaging against the ‘gangsta’ lifestyle perpetuated by many rap artists.
This is why Lasers is so exciting to consider. If the enigmatic (and, yeah, a bit pretentious) official site is anything to go by, then the scope of this album will extend to a global scale. If, as the site suggests, the third of Fiasco’s records is going to send a message to the world, then he’s got some work on his hands: but don’t bet against the man. I never would have thought a rap concept album chastising gun violence would work (much less go over in the marketplace), but Lupe pulled that off. And with Lasers, he might even take it a step further.
Lupe’s third album has long been a conundrum, from the rumours that there would only be one more record to the possibility of a final trilogy to everything in between. Now, we have the title and a teaser track (‘I’m Beamin”) to whet our appetite. The one thing we don’t have is a concrete release date. Originally slated for a spring release, Lasers has been pushed back quite a few times, leaving fans of the star wondering if we’ll see it in 2010. My guess? We will see it in the autumn.
And it could very well blow the game wide open once again.