The third album from the Chicago-bred, Kanye-hyped Lupe Fiasco spent nearly three years in a state of limbo, plagued by excessive delays, name changes, and disputes with his label, and the final product reflects the drama of this tug of war. “Lasers’’ oscillates between angsty rap-metal crossover tracks laden with political platitudes (“I really think the war on terror is a bunch of [expletive]/ Just a poor excuse for you to use up all your bullets,’’ he raps on “Words I Never Said’’) and blatantly clubby, bass-thumping radio-rap jams. The latter group, with the help of guests such as Trey Songz, does well to show Fiasco’s ability to deploy strong commercial hooks, but the album’s real sweet spots lie somewhere in the brief, breezy middle ground. He sounds most relaxed on “The Show Goes On,’’ a track that borrows its hook from Modest Mouse’s “Float On’’ and lays a warm, catchy brass section under a lyrical pep talk. On “Coming Up,’’ he declares fun the victor in the face of strife — “You can’t let it get you down/ Gotta carry on’’ — over a sexy disco groove. Now that the album’s finally on the shelves, perhaps Fiasco can relax enough to actually believe those declarations.
ESSENTIAL “Coming Up’’