Lupe Fiasco Lasers LP London Playback Session (Feb 17) | Review

Reporters, bloggers, DJs and label folk trickled into West London’s Cuckoo Club earlier tonight for an exclusive preview of a selection of cuts from Lupe Fiasco‘s latest album, Lasers.

For about an hour attendees perched, slouched and milled about collecting free cocktails in the darkly-lit purple walled venue listening to eight tracks from the Chicago emcee’s anticipated project, set for release on March 7th through Atlantic Records – over three years on from his sophomore Gold-certified LP, The Cool.

With Lupe nowhere yet to be soon, a label rep announced the session’s start and promptly hit play on his current single “Words I Never Said,” featuring Skylar Grey and produced by Alex Da Kid.

Dressed in all black everything with a skull-and-crossbones diamante-encrusted leather jacket, Lupe materialised after the second verse kicked in and made his way to the DJ booth [with DJ 279 on the decks], waiting until the song’s end to introduce himself, shout out some local tastemakers and announce his hope to “raise expectations” with what we were to hear tonight.

Up next was “I Don’t Wanna Care Right Now”: an up-tempo dance influenced track complete with a range of vocal effects on Fiasco’s flow, featuring MDMA on the chorus [who could easily be mistaken here for Akon on first listen].

With good potential as a future single, the explosive guitar-led “Out Of My Head” ensued with Trey Songz on the catchy-as-hell hook, followed by the project’s first official single “The Show Goes On,” which premiered in October [watch the official video here].

“Beautiful Lasers (Two Ways)” reunites Lupe with MDMA once again, the track’s overall melody and vibe sounding like a cross between “Shining Down” [a bonus track on the deluxe LP, featuring Matthew Santos] and Justin Timberlake‘s “Cry My A River.”

My personal favourite joint on the album, “Break The Chain,” kicks off in the misleading guise of an Ibiza-esque club anthem before swiftly switching into a dark, driving beat with with rapid drums produced by Ishi [Tinie Tempah’s “Written In The Stars,” Tinchy Stryder’s “Game Over”]. The song features Eric Turner on the chorus and a show-stealing second verse from UK emcee Sway before Lupe reclaims ownership with an electric third.

“We look back at the rules we received – and how we broke those, dismantled and re-wrote those…” Lupe reflects as John Legend‘s distinctive vocals adorn the mid-tempo “Never Forget You,” produced by Jerry “Wonda” Duplessis, Syience and Arden Altino.

Another bonus track from the deluxe version of Lasers, “I’m Beaming” was the last album cut to blare throughout the club before home-time, followed by a UK-themed song which won’t feature on the album but might appear as a UK bonus track, pending clearance.
*Update* The trackplayed was actually Lupe’s take on The Prodigy’s “Girls”, Listen to it HERE.

Aside from his initial introduction at the event, Lupe disappointingly remained silent throughout the playback without explaining, expanding on or even announcing the songs we heard.

A brief goodbye from Lupe ended the night, finally eliciting a whooping, clapping response from the audience who had until then remained fairly unresponsive. Media types, eh? Roll on Lasers

It’s hard to tell from the eight tracks heard tonight whether Lasers will yield the classics and anthems of Lupe Fiasco’s previous albums, but that’s often the case with a first-listen of any new LP from the rapper as he shifts styles and and sounds from project to project. With no cohesive thread immediately audible, we’ll have to get the full LP in rotation to truly explore its worth.