Lil Wayne can keep his Carter V. Thatwasmy immediate reaction when Wayne's final album was announced. Somewhere between making a clothing brand for Macy’s clearance rack and skateboarding with legends, he lost his zeal. Weezy became a banal version of his former self, victim to repetitive themes and elementary verbatim. Punch lines lacked muscle, similes became simple, metaphors circled the toilet bowl. The once serial guest verse feature was downgraded to embarrassing mundane. Almost everything post 2009 has been the same raps regurgitated over and over. I think back to the "Dr. Carter" concept from the Carter III, a doctor who saves rappers suffering from a lack of style, swagger, vocabulary and confidence. Right before our eyes, he went from doctor to patient.
Wayne is no longer the rapper that fueled my critical, 10th grade debates on who was the better Carter. Shawn didn’t reach us in South Atlanta – we were offspring’s of the Hot Boyz regnant, we cursed his Blueprints and the Black Album was a coaster for our lunchroom Yahoos. Jay was too lavish, suave; my adolescent mind gravitated toward the Martian who power-bombed Mannie Fresh beats and ate rappers for brunch. Those were the days: BET After Dark, skating rink Saturdays, and Lil Wayne in his most destructive form.
It was his energy that you couldn’t deny, an enthusiasm of raw carnage that mauled anything in its path. Every verse represented a man driven to prove his greatness, speaking it into existence, drilling it into our ears, he wanted the title and nothing more. Wayne demanded the world hail him as the greatest rapper alive – neither emcee nor poet, but rapper. His relationship with beats was an abusive one; wild and dizzy with madness, his style was that of a bull in a red painted room. It was entertaining to see the vast amount of music surface; what made Wayne’s streak of gold so impressive was the consistency. He recorded with the vigor of two Tupac’s effortlessly; some of his shiniest gems were illegally released by DJ’s. Mixtape Wayne is almost an entirely different entity than album Wayne; it’s like comparing Goku to his Super Saiyan transformation. Dedication 2 and Drought 3 didn’t have songs that created the chart- topping acclaim of "Lollipop" or "How to Love", but those two tapes open eyes into what this monster was capable of.
The diminishing of talent is a part of human evolution; no one stays in their prime forever. We become accustomed to a standard of quality, that’s why when the pedestal breaks and the artist is a shell living off former glory the disappointment is immense. Eventually the wit becomes corny, the charisma becomes obnoxious, and you await the retirement announcement that comes two years too late. With Wayne, his worst material has been delivered during the height of his celebrity. He has never rapped so bad, and yet been so popular. I remember hearing the Dedication 4 being played on the radio, a mixtape, I couldn’t believe it. Maybe Drake and Minaj have made him too much money, the women come too easy, the walls aren’t closing in like they use to, the thrill of competition no longer fuels Dwayne. That was before I heard the Carter V single, “Believe Me”.
I felt like I was listening to a ghost, or a man possessed by his glory years. I haven’t been that impressed by a Wayne single since “6'7’”. It’s the kind of single that silence critics and reinvigorate those that been around since the Squad Up tapes. Wayne followed up “Believe Me” with "D’Usse", as if to make a statement, one that screams this isn’t a fluke, he has returned to being the man on fire. Just when I was prepared to host a funeral for my dead admiration, he revives my belief in his abilities. I hate feeling excited; anticipation is just disappointment teasing with a bit of cleavage. A good single or two doesn’t erase all the horrible monstrosities that have filled recycle bins to the brim, all the cringe worthy vagina references, the attempted rock album and “Weezy F baby and the 'F' is for phenomenal.” Despite every brain muscle telling me that this is a mouse trap, I’m awaiting the Carter V with new found promise.
I hear that same enthusiasm and raw carnage that made my formative years full of quotables, before the internet introduced me to Immortal Technique and Jean Grae. I’m not looking for a classic, just a solid reminder that the evolutionary chart has a step after falling off – the second wind. Wayne won’t go down as the best rapper ever, but he’s embedded into this genre. His influence is in the DNA of many of the youngsters vibrating with promise (Kendrick Lamar, Chance The Rapper, and Young Thug). Now it’s time for him to go out with a bang.
- Yoh aka The Y is for Yoshi
[Yoh has no taste for either poverty or honest labor, so writing is the only recourse left for him. You can follow him at @Yoh31.]