Album: Lupe Fiasco, Lasers (Atlantic)

There's a tendency in hip-hop for performers to spread themselves too thinly, with endless guest spots. Originally planned for a 2009 release, Lupe Fiasco's follow-up to The Cool has been postponed time and again, with various tracks jettisoned to appear as singles or soundtrack items, while Lupe released mixtapes, guested on other rappers' work and even released an album with his post-punk band Japanese Cartoon. Now it's here, and it's a bit of a letdown. "Letting Go" and "Break the Chain" play with routine notions of paranoia and non-conformism, while his lambasting of "State Run Radio" suggests Lupe is confusing commercial imperatives with political control. And while his flow has a nice bounce and monotonal glide, too many tracks end with one wondering what exactly he's said, if anything at all.

DOWNLOAD THIS: Letting Go; The Show Goes On