The inimitable Lil Wayne, after months of delays and setbacks, has finally released his tenth solo album, I Am Not A Human Being II. The 15-track album features previously-released singles "My Homies Still," "No Worries," "Love Me" and "Rich as F**k." Joining Weezy F. Baby on the Young Money/Cash Money/Republic album release are 2 Chainz, Big Sean, Drake, Future, Gunplay, Juicy J, Nicki Minaj and more, while production credits include notables such as Detail, Diplo, Mike WiLL Made It, StreetRunner and T-Minus.
I Am Not A Human Being II Album Review
To quote my favorite writer, me, “Winehouse’s "Back to Black' came at the perfect time. Two years prior she had made Frank, a stylistically remarkable but ultimately not particularly compelling debut album. Two years later and she was already too gone to make music at all. For one brilliant moment though she possessed the gravitational pull of any person on the verge of destroying themselves, but she was still coherent enough to embed that pain in every note, capable of bringing us to the edge without dragging us off the cliff with her.”
Especially in light of his recent health scare, a scare I think it’s safe to say was at the very least fueled by drugs, I might as well have written that paragraph about Weezy. Tha Carter III was his Back to Black, an album that was recorded at his peak (so far), a time when he was on the edge, but still had a firm grip in musical reality. Fast forward five years - five years filled with a cocktail of prison time, drug use, and the mind-bending reality of extreme fame that would crush weaker men - and we’ve arrived at Wayne’s latest opus, I Am Not a Human Being II, an album that could only mean that either Weezy’s skills on the mic are slipping, he just doesn’t care much anymore, or both.
Fittingly, the album’s opening quasi-title track, IANAHB, is the perfect place to start. Make no mistake, Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr. is still absolutely fascinating. There aren't many rappers I would even listen to rhyme over a piano for five minutes, but he’s one of them. However, IANAHB is also a great example of the lyrical laziness Wayne has seemingly fallen into lately. If the second half of the line makes some connection to the first half he calls it a day, even if everything in between doesn’t make much sense. Case in point, the forced, “Shoot 'em in his head, what's that? A no brainer.” And this from the man who once said, “They say I’m rappin like Big, Jay and Tupac.”
It’d be easier to just roll your eyes at the forced punchlines and dismiss Human Being II, but there’s never anything easy about Lil Wayne. More than just bars, the man’s displayed a knack for melodies and catchy Auto-Tuned hooks for year, and sure enough the album’s got its fair share of guilty pleasures. The verses on No Worries are equally groan-provoking, but you’ve got to be completely cold-hearted to keep your head from nodding when it comes on. I could easily say the same for the catchy Curtains, the “of course Juicy J is on this” Trippy, and the project’s most guaranteed to stick in your head offering, B*tches Love Me, also featuring Drake and Future (who’s perfected the sung hooks over trap beats style Wayne helped invent). In all fairness I should admit that I cook to Love Me as hard as anyone. It may not be Lollipop, but Weezy still knows how to make a hit.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to concentrate on the guilty pleasures when Human Being II is filled with so much filler. Frankly I’m not nearly worried enough about being labeled a hater to hold back from saying that Trigger Finger is close to unlistenable, and that’s not even counting the Soulja Boy verse. I could easily say the same for Wowzers, the hilarious but otherwise painful Romance, and the flopped pop-rock attempt Pop Revolver. I’m sorry, “flopped” doesn’t quite do it; Pop Revolver is literally the worst song I’ve heard this year. Period.
Lord knows it’s not my place to tell Lil Wayne what he should and shouldn't do with his life. Despite the album title, and as interplanetary as he may often seem, Weezy is an actual human being. He’s a son, a father and a friend to many, and for his sake and the sake of everyone around him, I sincerely hope he lives a long and happy life. This is bigger than hip-hop, ultimately I just don’t want to see him end up like Amy Winehouse, but as a hip-hop fan, as someone who was once willing to argue that Lil Wayne was the best rapper alive, I can’t pretend like I don’t hear the decline in his music. He’s obviously still capable of moments of greatness, but right now those moments are so dulled by surrounding mediocrity they’re becoming lost. By any measure I Am Not A Human Being II is not a great album; let’s just hope it’s the valley in his career that comes right before another peak.
DJBooth Rating - 3 Spins