'Lasers' Beams In at No. 1

Categories: music news
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It's now official! Grammy Award-winning rapper Lupe Fiasco can now claim a No. 1 album on his musical résumé, with first week sales of Lasers coming in at more than 204,000 copies. The Nielsen SoundScan numbers confirmed the expected, as the new release edged out and ended Adele's two-week reign atop the Billboard 200. Fiasco cracked the top 10 before locking up the eighth spot with his 2006 debut album, Food & Liquor, but this is the first time he has clinched No. 1, thanks to the strongest sales week ever for any of his albums.

For the critically acclaimed MC, the news caps off a years-long struggle over the creative direction of Lasers. Fans petitioned and protested for a release date as Fiasco's efforts seemed doomed to forever languish in limbo. The drama took its toll, driving the rapper to the brink of suicide as his label, Atlantic Records, wanted a more "radio-friendly" collection of songs. A compromise was hashed out, and Lasers was profaned with Auto-Tune and synth-heavy club beats. (I've listened to "I Don't Wanna Care Right Now" at least 15 times and still can't make heads or tails of it, musically.)

On the flip side, the rapper kept to his themes of politics and positivity while penning rhymes for insightful songs that lyrically abstain from the "bitches/hoes/partying" formula that fuels so much of commercial hip-hop these days. And if Fiasco expressed ambivalence toward the Gold-certified first single, "The Show Goes On," the 29-year-old was beaming about his overall chart-topping feat on Twitter today, offering a few bars of rhymes including:

Apologize for dumbing it, but look what has become of it, "All Black Everything" some old white southern woman humming it, took Gaza Strip's Politics and put them number one and shit, took the myth that concious dont equal commercial and mothafuckin pummeled it!
In the end, Atlantic Records got what it wanted in landing a No. 1 album and a Top 40 single. Fiasco and his loyal fan base didn't get everything they wanted, but they scored key concessions, as his proud tweets allude to. In the aftermath, questions now loom: Was all of this necessary? Would Lasers have beamed to the top had the rapper been given complete creative control over the album? The music world will never know.

Fiasco has promised the debacle that has come to characterize Lasers will not cloud his fourth studio album, Food & Liquor 2, already in the works. Perhaps then it will be more clearly seen as to whether the label's influence or Fiasco's growing prominence in the world of hip-hop best explains his current ascendancy.
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