Release Date: Oct 12, 2010
Record label: Universal Motown
Genre(s): Rap, Pop/Rock, Southern Rap, Hardcore Rap, Dirty South
Released with less fanfare than you’d expect from the self-proclaimed “greatest rapper alive,” Lil Wayne’s I Am Not a Human Being landed on the streets while the rapper was behind bars. Any effort finished while in prison automatically falls into the “stopgap release” category, but what was originally planned as an EP to mark Weezy’s birthday somehow became a ten-track mini-album, and its quality is just a shade below any given entry in his Carter series. The biggest flaws are run time and an overall layout that just doesn’t flow like his albums, but when sci-fi beats (“shout out to all my moon men”) and sexually transmitted diseases collide on the vicious “Gonorrhea,” it’s obvious these aren't just leftovers.
Lil Wayne is not back. Not yet. As of this writing, he's due to be released from the Eric M. Taylor Center at Rikers Island on November 4. But even when he switches from inmate #02616544L to Dwayne Carter, free man, will he return as the world beater who stunned us with mixtapes like Dedication 2 ….
The casual European reader may be forgiven for never having heard of Lil’ Wayne aka Birdman Junior aka Weezy F Baby (“the f is for fornicate”). Despite him being one of the biggest rappers around, he’s never really made it big over here - 2008’s Tha Carter III sold over a million copies in its first week in the States, yet it only managed to claw its way into the top 25 over here. Not exactly what you’d expect from the best rapper alive.
Not letting a jail stint stop him from feeding his fans, Lil Wayne has packed his latest album with scraps and half-cooked songs that he whipped up before heading off to Rikers Island (he pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a weapon in 2009). I Am Not a Human Being‘s angry title track showcases Wayne’s ability to at once spit funny similes and tough talk, but its punk-hop guitar riffs barely even compete with the ones on his much-derided 2010 rock album, Rebirth. And it seems like he’s light on new ideas.
The fundamental hip-hop interplay between the mixtape and the proper release has become more prominent, and increasingly visible, in the last few years, as mixtapes have progressed from street-corner commerce to mainstream products, reviewed in The New York Times and distributed online. Lil Wayne has been a big part of this growth, consistently using the format to hone skills and screw around, keeping his profile high and his tongue limber. He put out four in 2008, an accomplishment in itself, all functioning as appetizers for his massively successful Tha Carter III that same year.
Filler. Yep, I said it – in a career filled with endless streams of music that only exists to remind you that Lil Wayne makes music, this seems like the most blatant attempt to squeeze some filthy lucre from Wayne’s fans. Seriously, The Carter IV is hardly a month away, you couldn’t have just put Human Being’s two decent tracks – there isn’t really a song that makes it to the “great” level – on that record and let us wait a month? Is this album just an attempt to lower expectations before The Carter IV? Does the label really think that we’re going to forget Wayne even if he’s in jail for eight months? I get it that modern fans are finicky and quick to forget, but it’s not like jail has interfered with the omnipresence of his guest appearances, or slowed down Young Money’s radio dominance or even kept Wayne out of the gossip columns.