FWA isn’t terrible, by modern Wayne standards.
While the album isn't on par with the classics, Wayne has plenty of moments where his strengths are showcased, like “Glory” and “Post Bail Ballin.” The latter is the kind of song that reminds you why Wayne is fun, line after line of focused lyricism. Rick Ross would’ve been a good feature.
An immediate standout was “My Heart Races,” with singer Jake Troth. The unknown singer took me back to when Wayne and Robin Thicke were a winning duo, the days of “Shooter” and “Tie My Hands.” We hear Wayne rap with a sentimental introspection that I haven’t heard from him in years. He even acknowledges the latest string of police killings, reminding us that Wayne can have a political voice ("George Bush" is still one of my favorites from his immense catalog).
Another interesting record is “London Roads,” surprisingly produced by Rich Gang’s London On The Track. Near the end, he retells the story about how he shot himself when he was 12 years old and mentions the police officer that saved his life recently died. It’s a rare, poignant moment where he gives the officer credit for the successful artist he is today. It makes me wonder if Wayne has kept in touch with that man and his family this entire time.
You can hear the hunger in songs like “Pull Up” and “Murda” but then he has records like “Psycho,” a song confessing a series of disturbing thoughts that should be sealed away in a burning diary. “Thinking Bout You” is another attempt at making a song for a young love interest, but I'd rather hear him sing about flanges with prostitutes. Wayne albums tend to feel more random than arranged to paint a bigger picture and FWA is crafted in a similar way.
There’s not much different from this album and what he’s been putting, the songs are almost interchangeable at this point. It’s only 15 tracks and I was left feeling like there was more good than bad, you can hear him attempting to regain his footing, but it’s like watching the mediocre episode of a formerly great TV series. I know how good it can be and anything less just leaves you craving the better days. Always hoping that a new season will revert back to its former glory. If you've ever watched The Office or Community in its entirety, you know the feeling.
Wayne will very likely never again be who he once was. I’ve accepted this harsh reality. Wayne is at the crossroads, he needs to evolve or die, and the Grim Reaper is sharpening his scythe. He has a song, “He’s Dead,” a burial for the artist that was on Cash Money. But the good news is that if that Wayne is really dead, he has the opportunity to reinvent himself once more.
Without change, Wayne is just staring at a mirror hoping to see former glory. There’s no magic in predictable, there’s no improvement in repetition, he has to accept he has to adapt. The same way my grandmother has to accept her graying hair, the increasing medication, and all the effects of time. She can’t do what she did at 30, Wayne can’t rap like he did at 25, and until he realizes this, he will continue to gradually shrink.
He may be free from Birdman's clutches, but he's still chained to the past.