LUPE FIASCO – Lasers

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Lupe Fiasco is polished. You wouldn’t know it or care perhaps. That’s Lupe. His music so sweet and enticing, yet he’s the forgotten one. We don’t think about him. And in today’s Hip-Hop world, if your last album came out in 2007, it makes perfect sense that you’ve been replaced by something less appealing, but current.

Lasers. An album completed almost entirely in 2008-9ish. Atlantic let it sit. And sit. A few teases, then it sat again. Then fans protested. Then it begrudgingly came out. With so much reluctance, hesitation, and variants thereof, we might assume that all this trouble means this album isn’t worth it. But what we are given is so tightly defined as “enjoyable”. A sinister yet rewarding blend of alternative, techno, pop, and rap that it has a shocking conclusion; we’ve been listening to a lot of garbage in 2011, and this may be the real first taste of something. Unfortunately, it often sounds more from the recording booth, then from the heart. In previous albums, Lupe is commonplace with his personal life. He alludes to the dark moments, high times, and an endearing lifestyle as a rebellious youngster. By the time, he puts the foundation down in I Don’t Wanna Care Right Now, it’s apparent that he’s just dictated the theme.

There’s a flagrant display of detachment in Lasers. Nothing seems to get too personal, everything seems light, and the skateboarding MC who dazzled in Food and Liquor is slightly scatterbrained here. He’s never used gimmicks or nuances to explain his maturation. He’s not blatantly trying to pull away from The Cool or Food and Liquor. He just seems absent and loose. At least, it’s not forced. He’s freshly on count. LF won’t waste your time. His syllables bounce into otherworldly bridges. When he feels it, he’s untouchable. There’s an urgency in Lasers that’s positive. Not that he’s rushing or phoning it in, rather, he’s being direct and practical. This is…by a longshot, his shortest album to date. No cluttering of numerous tracks, no moments where the tracks dip in enthusiasm and become boring. It ends just as quickly as it starts. LF’s tempo is smooth. It’s upbeat, relaxed, and confident. And by the time he throws the chorus to someone who can sing, it honestly sounds flawless. That’s why we like it. That recording trick makes all the songs sound complete, like Lupe was carrying this album from beginning to end. But since he began this quest so long ago, he’s certainly a different artist and person now. That makes us wonder how much Lasers means to him today.

But it’s really not his. It’s the album for music execs. It’s fluffy content pieced together with soulful hooks by John Legend, Trey Songz, and MDMA. Sure, it sounds great, but we wonder how he really feels. After all the struggle with this, is LF really happy with the final product? Is this what he wanted?

Once his next two albums come out, we’ll know the answer. But don’t discredit him. I don’t question his character nor his heart. If there wasn’t all this BTS drama, it truly sounds like he’s having a lot of fun. It’s fun (purely for amusement) to listen to. But when Atlantic has been so callous with its holding over this “product,” it’s hard to know if Lupe ever really owned this album. If he did, the studio cut those parts out. There’s just too many moments where the context is so soft, the lines so typical and trite. Sure, LF’s flow is fantastic, so it sounds good anyway. But where is all his depth? His poise? His intensity? It’s hidden behind fruity loops, rock/rap infusions, and auto-tuned choruses. It’s chain restaurant hip hop. If LF wasn’t so talented, it would sound much more ordinary. His talent saves it, and makes it intruging. But at times, it sounds like a posthumous release; so pieced and clipped. And sure, Fiasco finished his performance, but it’s still lacking. Considering LF has a damaged relationship with Atlantic now, then it is technically a posthumous album.

There’s so much potential here. At the hands of a higher power, Lasers sounds congruent. If this is what Lupe Fiasco wanted, then it would be a gem. But since he’s admitted his love and hate for this process, you wonder if it’s the final cut he wanted. As he works on two more albums as of now, is he trying to move forward from this? That’s sad. There just isn’t enough substance here. It’s a fly-by album. It won’t win awards or turn heads. It won’t change Hip-Hop. But it will be great for the short term and very welcomed into our ears. It’s just a shame he had to go through the pain. He doesn’t have anything to be embarrassed about.

Standout Tracks: “I Don’t Wanna Care Right Now”, “Out Of My Head”, “Coming Up”

Tracklisting:

1. Letting Go ft. Sarah Green
2. Words I Never Said ft. Skylar Grey
3. Till I Get There
4. I Don’t Wanna Care Right Now ft. MDMA
5. Out of My Head ft. Trey Songz
6. The Show Goes On
7. Beautiful Lasers (Two Ways) ft. MDMA
8. Coming Up ft. MDMA
9. State Run Radio ft. Matt Mahaffey
10. Break the Chain ft. Eric Turner & Sway
11. All Black Everything
12. Never Forget You ft. John Legend

LIL WAYNE MAKE A BIG RETURN

Lil Wayne - Gutta World Magazine

The mouthful of sparkle told you exactly how Lil Wayne was feeling. Flashing his bling-crusted grin from ear to ear, the rapper (and, let’s face it, rock star) was fired up and in charge at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center on Wednesday night.

“This is my first time on a stage in over a year,’’ he told the shrieking sold-out crowd on the first stop of his new tour. “I swear to God, I was in a place a few months ago I couldn’t even imagine this [expletive]. But now that I’m here, it’s better than I ever could have imagined.’’

Wayne was referring to his newfound freedom after serving eight months of jail time on a weapons charge. He was an inmate at Rikers Island as recently as early November, but on Wednesday he was back to selling out arenas with a performance that was assured, steady, and oftentimes blistering.

It was hard to tell who was happier that Wayne was back: the performer or his fans. They roared as Wayne, backed by a tight band, sprayed his rhymes like machine-gun fire on “A Milli,’’ “Bill Gates,’’ and “6 Foot 7 Foot.’’

After an intense half-hour, Wayne ceded the stage to Nicki Minaj, whose set was as much about the music as her cartoonish theatrics. With a blond fright wig towering on her head and five female back-up dancers swirling around her, the rapper-singer revved up with “Roman’s Revenge.’’

While eminently amusing, Minaj came rather close to sinking her own performance with an extended set of sugary ballads (“Right Thru Me,’’ “Fly,’’ and “Save Me’’). When Wayne reappeared for a second set, Minaj rebounded nicely on “Roger That,’’ a rap-off with Wayne that proved their chemistry was sincere, their respect mutual.

Earlier in the night, Miami rapper Rick Ross was larger than life: big presence, big beard, and big beats. Meanwhile, Travis Barker held court for 30 stealth minutes drumming in synch with a DJ and posed the age-old question: “Can a drummer get some?’’

Mobb Deep Rapper Prodigy Released From Prison

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Three years away from the rap game is a potentially career killing lifetime for most rappers. For Prodigy, one half of the legendary New York mainstays Mobb Deep, the time off from rap has not been entirely fruitless as he’s been officialy released from Mid-State Correctional Facility after serving a three-year prison stint.

In October 2006, Albert “Prodigy” Johnson was driving his SUV in New York City with longtime producer and friend Alan “The Alchemist” Maman and after making an illegal U-turn, his vehicle was searched by police. After finding a small pistol in a compartment, the pair were arrested and subsequently released on bond with pending charges.

Prodigy, already convicted of previous gun charges, feigned ignorance about the gun but later struck a deal with prosecutors, pleading guilty and dropping his mandatory charge of 15 years to just three for the gun possession. He was sentenced to three and a half years on October 8, 2007.

While out on bond, Prodigy feverishly recorded a bulk of music and shot several videos in order to keep his music out on the street and his name relevant in the increasingly fast moving rap industry. The last album released from the rapper was 2008’s Product Of The 80s.

Prodigy will be released tomorrow (March 7) from the Mid-State Correctional facility in New Jersey, no doubt to much fanfare from his longtime Mobb Deep partner Havoc and to the many fans of the gruff voiced rapper responsible for the street classic “Keep It Thoro,” along many other notable tracks in his nearly 20-year career. The rapper is also releasing an autobiography detailing his rise to rap royalty and also his time behind bars via publishing giant Simon & Schuster.

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Shaq Says Rapper B.I.G. Might Be Alive Had He Made it To Party

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Boston, Celtics’ Center Shaquille O’Neal claims that had he been with Christopher “Notorious B.I.G.” Wallace on the night he was shot four times in the chest, the rapper might be with us today.

Christopher Wallace, aka Biggie Smalls, was gunned down on March 9th, 1997 in Los Angeles, California, just after a party held at the Peterson Auto Museum for the Soul Train Music Awards in 1997.

Shaq, who celebrated his 39th birthday on Sunday (March 6th), said that the day is bitter-sweet, due to his friendship and fond memories of the late rapper.

During an interview with “Outside the Lines” on ESPN, Shaq revealed that he met Sean “Diddy” Combs and Biggie around 1993, after B.I.G. agreed to record on the basketball star’s record “You Can’t Stop The Rain.”

The pair developed a close kinship that lasted up until the night of B.I.G.’s death.

Shaq said he saw B.I.G. at a tattoo parlor on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, just two days before he was gunned down. B.I.G. invited Shaq to the infamous after party, where the rapper would lose his life.

According to Shaq, he was supposed to meet B.I.G. at the after-party, but he fell asleep in his condo while waiting for his head of security, Uncle “Jerome” Crawford, who could not get past the front desk.

“I was in my condo. I had on a cold white suit, white hat and all that,” Shaq told Outside the Lines. “I was on my way. I was dressed. Usually Uncle Jerome will just come up, but I guess he tried to call and the front desk wouldn’t let him through. I just fell asleep. I woke up about 4 o’clock from a call from my mother.”

The news Shaq’s mom Mrs. Lucille O’Neal delivered was shocking. Her son’s friend had been gunned down just hours earlier, by unknown assailants.

“She said ‘Did you go to the party?’ I’m like, ‘No, what’re you talking about?’ She said, ‘You know, your friend was shot and killed.’ And I was like, ‘What?’ So then I hung up with her and called some people and they told me what had happened,” Shaq told Outside the Lines.

Shaq addressed the murder in his 2001 autobiography Shaq Talks Back, when he wrote: “If I would have been standing by his truck, would the killer still have shot? I’ve always asked myself that question.”

Junior M.A.F.I.A.’s Lil Cease also believes if Shaq had came to the party that evening, B.I.G. might still be alive.

“One dude in the car by his self,” Lil Cease revealed. “He just didn’t say nothing. He rolled up on the car, pulled his hand out the window and started firing the gun into the car, into biggie’s door. Big was just slumped over with this shocked look on his face, like he couldn’t believe what just happened.”

“I think that may would have changed things,” Lil Cease told ESPN’s Outside the Lines. “If Shaq would have said ‘you know what, I’ma come with y’all.’ I’m sure him and B.I.G. would have rolled together, because that’s the type of person B.I.G. was…I’m sure Shaq would have had security and I’m sure B.I.G. would have had enough security to come with him that day to make sure Shaq was alright. So I definitely think if Shaq would have been there, it definitely would have changed, definitely would have changed.”

While B.I.G.’s murder has never been solved, new hope has arisen in the pursuit for justice.

Hundreds of new documents were recently unsealed by the L.A.P.D. linking two former officers to the 1997 murder.

According to the new evidence, former L.A.P.D. officers-turned-criminals Rafael Perez and David Mack were involved with the murder of B.I.G., along with a man named Amir Muhammad, at the orders of Marion “Suge” Knight.

None of the men implicated in the rapper’s murder have ever been charged.

“I am fortunate enough to say that I knew him. Fortunate enough to say that he blessed me with 32-bars on my album and I’m blessed enough to say he knew me and I knew him. So I don’t really think about the bad times, I just good times, and he is the greatest rapper.”

On Wednesday (March 9th), B.I.G. will be honored by Junior M.A.F.I.A. and other close friends during a celebration of his life.

A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Christopher Wallace Foundation, to directly benefit the Christopher Wallace Memorial Foundation, and their unwavering efforts to make a difference in the lives of the youth.

C.W.M.F. representative Jan Jackson will be on site during the event, and will be scheduling interviews upon request.

Also in honor of Biggie’s memory, the tribute celebration will feature artists who were inspired by Biggie’s music, and who will pay homage to him through live performances.

Raekwon has been added to the lineup, which also includes Easy Mo Bee, DJ Premiere, Esquire, 50 Grand, Pharoahe Monch and Lady Luck.

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Two Men Stabbed Inside Venue At Lloyd Banks Concert

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Two men in Buffalo, New York, were sent to the hospital with stab wounds after a brawl broke out during after a concert featuring G-Unit rapper Lloyd Banks.

According to police, Lloyd Banks was performing at The Town Ballroom on Saturday (March 5th) when two men were stabbed in two separate incidents, inside the venue.

Clayton Webster, 23 and Anthony Marshall, 21, were both stabbed repeatedly inside of the venue, police confirmed.

While Marshall is in stable condition, Webster is still in critical condition at the Erie County Medical Center.

Investigators are attempting to determine if the two incidents are connected, or if one of the stabbings was a retaliatory act for the other.

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Kanye West’s ‘Monster’ Video Banned By MTV

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The music video for Kanye West’s single Monster has been banned by MTV. The television network made the decision to pull the video in response to an outcry over the way women are being portrayed in the footage.

At the forefront of the outrage are two activists Sharon Haywood and Melinda Tankard Reist, who created a petition asking MTV and Universal Music Group to stop promoting the video, and in the process managed to get over 1,600 signatures.

“The mainstreaming of videos like this increases desensitized and callous attitudes toward violence against women,” said Reist, one of the campaign’s originators. “Young people are seeing images and absorbing harmful messages which glamorize misogyny and brutalize women.”

Adding, “Women are reduced to sex-doll like playthings. So great is the level of desensitization that the barbaric treatment of women and girls is seen as normal and to be expected. We decided to run this campaign because we wanted to challenge the status quo.”

Their work isn’t completely done though, pointed out Reist, who said that they are determined to continue their campaign until Universal Music Group responds to the petition.

Monster collaborators Jay-Z, Rick Ross, and Nicki Minaj appear in the video alongside West.

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