It’s pretty easy to link Lupe Fiasco to Kanye West. Both are from Chicago. Both work with a variety of collaborators. Oh, and they’re both critically acclaimed rappers; Kanye as the veteran with nearly unrivaled acclaim, and Lupe as the still-rising hot shot looking to further his cred with his third album, Lasers.
While there are obvious comparisons between the two (Lupe even contributed a verse to Kanye’s “Touch the Sky”), their styles aren’t exactly identical. Lupe has a naturally smooth lyrical stream and an ability to spit with speed, while Kanye has excelled is in his skill with choruses. Lupe, however, often delegates melodic duties to featured artists – his biggest hit, “Superstar,” features Matt Santos on the chorus.
“The Show Goes On” is the perfect microcosm of this. Lupe borrows the chorus from Modest Mouse’s “Float On” in the same way B.o.B. used Vampire Weekend’s “The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance” for his “The Kids” melody. While the song is pretty infectious and has gotten substantial plays already, the melody did not come from Lupe. For the majority of the album, Lupe is at the disposal of his collaborators whose melodies are hit and miss.
Thankfully, Lupe is good enough that his verses make up for it. While he has said he hated the process he went through making Lasers (he suffered depression and occasional suicidal thoughts), he still admits, “the music is dope.” It’s hard to disagree. Lupe’s flow and the admirable production make for an enjoyable listen.
The album’s title, Lasers, is an acronym for “love always shines every time, remember 2 smile” — ironic, as “laser” is already an acronym for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.” Thankfully, dope-ness is much more abundant in Lupe’s rapping than in his acronym-making ability.