I could spend this entire review writing about how Lil Wayne’s new album The Rebirth is the worst cross-genre transition since a bipolar Joaquin Phoenix tried to rap; about how watching Weezy play the rock star role is like watching a blind man throw darts; how I’d rather spend an hour listening to Glenn Beck than this album. I could waste the next 700 words writing all about how Darko Milcic has a better chance of winning a NBA MVP than The Rebirth has of a winning a Grammy; about how even Hellen Keller could …
DJBooth Album Review
To understand where we are, first we have to understand where we came from – or at least my version thereof. After an insanely prolific 2008, during which he appeared on approximately 4,117 tracks, Lil Wayne released Tha Carter III, a multi-platinum selling album widely hailed as a masterpiece by nearly everyone (including me) that instantly made him a bizillioanaire and granted him musical genius status. Thus, surrounded only by people who told him how great he was and bored by the relatively narrow confines of hip-hop, Wayne did what any self-respecting egomaniacal genius would do; decided he needed to become even bigger, and since it was literally impossible for him to became any more famous in the rap world, he decided to invade rock.
This wouldn’t have necessarily been a problem if Wayne had recruited the right help (Rick Rubin, for example), but convinced of his own genius Weezy F. decided to forge ahead alone, betting that he could craft the resulting album, The Rebirth, into something that would play on rock radio stations across the country and make him, effectively, the biggest star in the music history. For a man whose gambles almost always paid off, Rebirth is a rare loss.
We might as well get the good news out of the way first. Don’t worry, it won’t take long. It can’t be a coincidence that the album’s most “hip-hop” offering, Drop the World, is also the album’s best, even though the track’s success might owe more to Eminem than Weezy. Oddly, Drop the World is ultimately proof that Wayne could have made a great album by using rock’s aggression to further magnify his already destructive lyricism. In the same spirit I have to give it up to Rebirth’s lead single Prom Queen, a head-banging anthem that, despite some inexplicably juvenile vocals from Weezy, still manages to retain a certain guilty pleasure appeal, and the same goes for On Fire, a Cool & Dre produced cut that, cheesy 80’s aerobics video intro aside, manages to create an appropriately steamy audio ambiance. And…um…well that pretty much wraps up the good news.
Unfortunately the rest of The Rebirth oscillates somewhere in between ill-advised and unlistenable, starting with Da Da Da, a track’s that’s every bit as well crafted as its title would suggest. In many ways Da Da Da is a perfect summary of the album’s failings as a whole: it exhibits only the most meager understanding of rock song structure, the lyrics are almost absurdly simple (“Gimme me that funky monkey,” really?) and, perhaps most importantly, Wayne can’t sing, a fundamental problem that carries over into Ground Zero, a power chord only cut that finds Wayne doing his best (or worst) English punk impression, right down to an absurd English accent. If Ground Zero is indeed as low as it gets than Paradice is subterranean. At least Ground Zero is mercifully short, but on Paradice we’re treated to almost four minutes of Wayne auto-tuning his way through a Gun n’ Roses wanna-be power ballad, and I mean Wayne “treated” us to Paradice in the same way he would “treat” us to a kick in the testicles. None of this should really be surprising, I think we all expected The Rebirth to be bad, but what’s almost unfathomable is just how bad it is.
So, have I whipped you up into a Rebirth bashing frenzy? Good, now forget it. The real disaster would have been if Lil Wayne had made a hip-hop album this bad. Then we could have bemoaned the loss of one of the greatest rappers ever. But, instead, he tried to do something he had no business doing and failed accordingly. It’s simple really. So like Rocky 5 or the entire Bush presidency, I say we all just pretend like The Rebirth never happened. Sometimes it’s best to forgive, and to forget.
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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