Lil Wayne, why you do me like this?
You were my portal out of the Manhattan prep school universe. You were the perfect rapper to give a white Jew rocking 6 inches of blond curls some cred.
Lil Wayne, you gave hip hop nerds a reason to love a rapper who rarely wandered from the hip hop trinity of making money, fucking bitches, and blowing trees. Your ever-mutating flow and ADHD wordplay on the mixtape Drought 3 wound its way into my heart. It was clever enough to give white fans cover to appreciate rap that wasn’t ‘conscious,’ but just hot.
See the line: “How come every joint be on point like a harpoon/How come every bar stand strong like a barstool/How come every line is so raw you gon’ snort two?” Who else would go from Moby Dick to coke in three bars (without taking into account the adopted Creole accent)?
The night before graduation, I went to Bridgeport to see you perform two days before the Carter 3 dropped. I picked up a Carter 3 album T-shirt, and when I wore it people from all races would stop me on the street and acknowledge Weezy’s transcendence. With you, it wasn’t like “what can this white boy know about N.W.A”: my hip hop fandom and beatboxing habit no longer felt like that of an outsider.
Weezy, I understand how in the rap world ‘musical miscegenation’ is much more accepted, as artists sample the likes of Justice (Wale) and Empire of the Sun (Wiz Khalifa). But on Rebirth, you take your cues from Smash Mouth, Evanescence and Blink 182 while adding an overwrought helping of autotune. Your recent No Ceilings mixtape made it clear that you haven’t lost your flow, but you make me lose faith when one of your choruses is “fuck you (fuck you!) get a life (get a life!).” The production sounds like a hard rock song not good enough to make it into Guitar Hero. I maintained the hope that you might have been using this rock phase as a medium for social commentary, but when you title a song “Ground Zero” and the bridge repeats the disturbing “Jump-Jump out a window/Lets-Lets-Lets jump off a building baby,” I really don’t know what emotional planet you’re from. A lot of this record is just dumb.
So where does this leave us? You get some credit for being willing to take some time off from defending your “Best Rapper Alive” title, and choosing such an audacious project as the send-off for your upcoming yearlong jail term. But what of your cross-racial appeal that garnered me so many approving nods? Will people think I actually like this “dope boy with a guitar?”
Weezy, you didn’t need a Rebirth.