Only one question has truly set America on fire. One question is on the tip of every tongue. No, not is Ashanti’s career really over?, or would Beyonce and Jay-Z’s baby possess superpowers?, or even who should be the next president of the United States? No, the controversy that’s gripped out country is, is Lil’ Wayne the greatest rapper alive? Well I’m finally going to tell you the answer: I don’t know. It’s not the answer everyone wants to hear, but it’s the right one. After all, the true measure of a rapper is their … ...Read the full album review
DJBooth Album Review
Only one question has truly set America on fire. One question is on the tip of every tongue. No, not is Ashanti’s career really over?, or would Beyonce and Jay-Z’s baby possess superpowers?, or even who should be the next president of the United States? No, the controversy that’s gripped out country is, is Lil’ Wayne the greatest rapper alive? Well I’m finally going to tell you the answer: I don’t know. It’s not the answer everyone wants to hear, but it’s the right one. After all, the true measure of a rapper is their albums, and all the cameos in the world can’t mask the fact Weezy has yet to drop a truly worthy album. We’ve been forced to wait for the definitive evidence, the much-anticipated Tha Carter III, for over two years, and in the meantime battle lines have been drawn. On one side are ardent supporters who hang on his every insane word, on the other is the inevitable anti-Weezy backlash that’s now calling him “the most overrated rapper alive.” But until Tha Carter III finally hits the shelves, supposedly next month, all the talk is just that…talk.
Weezy knows the crowd is growing restless, so instead of an album Weezy F. Baby’s decided to release a new EP, The Leak. Unlike the carefully guarded Lupe Fiasco, Wayne has no problem when his tracks mysteriously leave his studio and end up on the Internet. Maybe it’s because he apparently writes 20 songs a day, or maybe it’s because he’s so high he literally doesn’t care, but when a solid third of Tha Carter III got released to the public he simply decided to package the leaked tracks and release them independently. It’s a plan that’s so crazy it just might work.
The Leak starts off with a musical collage of famous Wayne lines (tragically there’s no recognition that he essentially invented the phrase “drop it like it’s hot”), before the pulsing beat of I’m Me kicks in and the man jumpstarts his predictably unpredictable flow. I know at this point it’s an overstatement, but it bears repeating; Weezy is out of his goddamn mind. By the time the first verse is over he’s set a world record for f***s in a row (“f*** em, f*** em, f*** em, even if they celibate”), purposefully mispronounced K-Fed’s name (“I’m married to that crazy b****, call me Kevin Fed-er-lynn”), and ruminated on life after death (“better lock my casket tight so I don’t let the devil in”). Love him or hate him, as a rapper he’s impossible to pin down, and it’s that unpredictability that has His Weezyness in the running for the crown. He’s too obscene to be underground, too poetic to be mainstream. He is, in the end, just him.
Wayne releases a lot of material, to put it mildly, and with that kind of output it’s impossible for every verse to be a classic. F. Baby shows his softer side on the appropriately mellow Kush, a track that’s an ode to the man’s favorite substance. Wayne writing an ode to marijuana is like Fat Joe rhyming about tacos, but if anyone can make an original “I get high” song it’s Weezy. Sure enough there’s no shortage of strangely entrancing lines, “I keep a bandana like the ninja turtles,” just to name one, but something about Kush just isn’t right. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but if I had to say (and I do, it’s my job) I’d blame it on the production. It’s not that the beat doesn’t work, it has an appropriately laid-back summertime vibe, it’s that the beat doesn’t quite work for Weezy. His skittering, raspy flow just flat-out sounds better on harder beats. Can you picture him doing a slow jam? Neither can I.
The truly incredible thing about Weezy is that I could write a novel about a five-song EP like The Leak, but at the end of the day it’s still just a five-song EP. We’ve already gone over Kush and I’m Me, Gossip is Wayne is at his best (at times he sounds like he’s teetering on the edge of his sanity), and Love Me or Hate Me and Talkin About It are decent but ultimately forgettable. What’s the verdict? The verdict is a “greatest rapper alive” title can’t bestowed until we hear a full album. Until I have Tha Carter III in my sweaty hands the best I can do is “possibly the greatest rapper alive,” which doesn’t quite have the same ring to it. Sorry, I don’t make up the rules, I just enforce ‘em. So until then…
Listen to More: Lil Wayne Written by Nathan S.
Cash Money/Universal Motown
First DJ Booth Appearance:
"Hollywood Divorce ft. Lil' Wayne & Snoop Dogg" (2006)
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