Release Date: Mar 26, 2013
Record label: Cash Money
Genre(s): Rap, Southern Rap, Hardcore Rap, Dirty South
OK, fine, Lil Wayne isn't a human being. But is he a rapper? Last summer, Weezy said that rap had become "boring," and he's made noises about quitting music to concentrate on his new love, skateboarding. He's also made headlines for all kinds of extra-musical reasons: his beef with Miami Heat big man Chris Bosh, his brush-with-death hospitalization, his cough-syrup addiction.
Compared to the albums he's released under the name Tha Carter, Lil Wayne's I Am Not a Human Being series is noticeably looser. The quality control is certainly above mixtape or street-release level, but stray tracks and Carter leftovers are given their homes here, while the overall album flow is allowed to be reckless. Here, Weezy's wisecracking rebel songs get bunched together, coming off as redundant blasts of evil genius narcisswagger, where flaccid penises are "sleeping giants," codeine, promithazene, and weed are the recommended vitamins, and spending your birthday in jail ain't no biggie because the Playboy Mansion can always reschedule.
He just turned 30 last fall, but recently Lil Wayne has talked about retiring from the MC game. Is the life of a rapper starting to affect his health, leading to his much-documented hospitalization for seizures? Has he run out of things to say? Or does he recognize that his time in the pop culture firmament may have passed? Weezy still commands a lot of respect in the rap world, which is why many of his chart usurpers show up here, each one besting one of Wayne’s key attributes: Drake locks down the smirking half-croon; Nicki Minaj spins high-speed surrealism; and 2 Chainz, with his arena-size punchlines and boot-stomping swagger, sounds an awful lot like…well, Wayne from seven years ago. Not that Wayne has completely lost his touch.
Lil Wayne never has been nor never claimed to be a rapper’s rapper. As his fame has grown over the years, he’s continuously straddled the line separating Pop and Rap, lacing his fodder with innuendos that he’s from another planet—coupled with oddly perverse punchlines. The production on 2010’s I Am Not a Human Being futhered this claim, with spacey beats that nurtured Wayne slapping around silly bars to the tune of an impending prison sentence waiting for him upon album completion.
Lil Wayne :: I Am Not a Human Being IIYoung Money/Cash Money/Republic RecordsAuthor: Steve 'Flash' Juon"They say the best, part, of waking upIs breakfast after a nut" At this point the best part of waking up for Dwayne Carter is simply WAKING UP AT ALL. Weezy spent almost an entire week at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after suffering a seizure while shooting a music video with Nicki Minaj. Both the cause of the seizure and the length of the hospital stay have been under debate, with TMZ trying to stay abreast of the situation, while Wayne's closest friends and handlers tried to downplay the incident and say he it was a minor medical matter.
It sucks to have to call Lil Wayne's post-prison output - made while sober (we assume) - disappointing and devoid of the searing, brilliant whimsy and menace of his previous drug-incubated work. Particularly in the aftermath of last week's TMZ-led death scare, it feels right to root for Wayne's sobriety. But his new album shows more unravelling by one of hip-hop's most cherished and beleaguered figures.
Nothing peaks interest in an artist like their untimely demise, and while reports of Lil Wayne receiving the last rites at a Los Angeles hospital recently may have been greatly exaggerated, his bouts of ill health and supposed drug addiction have ratcheted up some short-term interest in the now 30 year old rapper. As if on cue, the release of I Am Not a Human Being II offers Weezy a chance to wash away some of the murky headlines that have attached themselves to his brand of late, as well as the opportunity to rediscover the kind of form that propelled him to the level of fame that tends to attract such attention. I refer, of course, to Wayne’s now legendary run between and including the release of 2005’s Tha Carter II and 2008’s Tha Carter III; when the MC proclaimed himself to be “the best rapper alive” and, for many, achieved that recognition by relentlessly murdering every beat in his path, as exemplified expertly on mixtape classics Dedication 2 and Da Drought 3.
Tha Carter III and the year Weezy was king are starting to feel like distant memories given the middling output the Young Money chief's been dropping on the world in the time since. New record I Am Not A Human Being II does little to break Lil Wayne's lengthy streak of mediocrity, and much of that is due to the man's increasing limited lyrical scope. The problem with reducing nearly every spoken phrase to an unrelenting string of rap metaphors (three quarters of which are explicitly sexual) is that very few MCs — let alone this one — have ever been that consistently clever or creative.
About a week ago, Lil Wayne fans around the world were reminded that their beloved rapper is, indeed, a human being. Primed to release the follow-up to his lukewarmly received I Am Not a Human Being (2010), Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr., was checked into the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on March 12th after suffering a seizure. The details of his visit and severity of his illness have been disputed by Cash Money Records CEO Birdman and the various tabloid websites that first picked up the story, but the whole episode regardless lends a morbid irony to the title of his new album.
The title is sadly accurate. Lil Wayne is a full-blown cottage industry now, a one-man corporation that provides succor and service to careers ranging from Nicki Minaj and Drake’s to Gudda Gudda and Lil Chuckee’s. With this many shareholders come obligations, so despite the increasingly obvious and pressing personal needs of Dwayne Carter the man, Lil Wayne Inc.
There was a time when New Orleans’ Lil Wayne seemed invincible. His 2004-’08 run of albums and mixtapes made an all-swaggin’, snarling superstar of the Cash Money rapper, muscling his way out of the Louisiana hip-hop scene into the charts and onto Obama’s iPod (“He’s got a pretty good flow,” the US President smiled in 2009). Three years, one prison stint for gun possession and some serious musical missteps later, including 2010’s lumbering ‘Tha Carter IV’ and singles with ’90s guitar has-beens Weezer and Limp Bizkit, Dwayne Michael Carter Jr is looking pretty human after all.
Have you ever seen something so profoundly beautiful as a “moth butterfly thing”? Kanye West has, and he was so struck by its symbolic integrity that he had DONDA, his creative content company, incorporate it into the cover art for Lil Wayne’s 10th studio album, I Am Not a Human Being II. According to Wayne, Kanye “chose the moth butterfly thing because it has so many different stages of life, and it goes through so many forms and changes, and no one can figure it out, and it’s always beautiful. ” Obviously, we’re meant to interpret this in terms of his career — the metamorphosis from Hot Boy to mixtape phenom to established solo artist to “rock star” and, finally, to his current artistic incarnation: an Auto-Tuned, Pac Sun-styled combination of the above.
In an interview last week, Lil Wayne stated that he suffers from epilepsy — the cause for the string of seizures that left him in the hospital earlier this month. Wayne is only just now sharing such a personal fact, ostensibly to debase the widespread claim (catalyzed by TMZ) that his seizures were drug-induced. Purple drank-induced, more specifically.
Lil Wayne has long been one of hip-hop’s loosest cannons, but his narrative changed dramatically in 2010 after his release from Rikers Island jail, where he spent eight months on a weapons charge. For three years at least, sobriety was to be his sidekick. As part of a plea agreement in a separate drug possession case, he consented to regular drug tests.
Over the past three years, Wayne has made more news with his upside-down personal life than with his inconsistent music. This sequel to 2010’s pre-jail rush job finds the MC, who recently had serious health problems, flailing in an attempt to recapture the stoned Seuss-ian magic of his peak years. At his best, Weezy was inventively witty and even his loopiest verses had an internal logic.
In 2007, Lil Wayne was releasing songs for free that could have made other rappers’ careers, and he never seemed to give two shits about it. That was just what Drought 3-era Wayne did. "Upgrade" could have been a hit single, but it didn't matter, he had "A Milli" and “Lollipop” on deck. In fact, Tha Carter III would be so good that its leaked overflow would make for one of the best unofficial mixtapes of ’07, The Drought Is Over 2.