The Carter's much-delayed reincarnation proves rocking isn't as easy as he thinks

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Album review: Lil Wayne - Rebirth (Island)

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Album review: Lil Wayne – Rebirth (Island)

It wasn’t just [b]NME[/b] who proclaimed [a]Lil Wayne[/a] to be the best rapper alive in 2008. Time magazine, Rolling Stone and [a]Kanye West[/a] were all schnozzing superlatives up his backside, and it seemed the new crown prince of hip-hop could do no wrong. But sitting atop his career peak, Wayne started to get vertigo.

The recent [i]The Carter[/i] documentary shows him at his most out-of-control, knocking back litres of cough syrup for the codeine kick. When he emerged from his stupor, he announced that he was giving up rap to make a guitar album. Which brings us to ‘[b]Rebirth[/b]’, a shlock-rock record so absurd it makes [a]Alien Ant Farm[/a] seem like a legitimate musical venture.

Before we lay our grillz into Weezy, it’s worth mentioning that this album’s only highlight, ‘[b]Drop The World[/b]’, is a seething slice of electronica that solves the age-old hip-hop conundrum: how do you deal with ‘real issues’ when you’ve got enough money to buy your old neighbourhood a hundred times over? Wayne’s answer: you don’t bother. Give up on social commentary and hip-hop fanfaronade altogether and write a song about being so pissed off you have to get in a spaceship, pick the world up and drop it on some poor girl’s “fucking head”.

Unfortunately, ‘[b]Drop The World[/b]’ serves only as a bombastic what-could-have-been. As you tuck into the rest of Wayne’s interpretation of ‘rock’ it becomes clear that he doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing. On opener ‘[b]American Star[/b]’ he trades humour and insight for spelling, announcing he was “Born and raised in the USA, where the president is B-L-A-C-K,” as if this historical landmark somehow meant more by pronouncing each letter. By the tellingly-titled ‘[b]Da Da Da[/b]’ he’s all but given up with lyrics completely.

The reasoning behind Wayne’s switch from something he was very good at to something he S-U-C-K-S at is, dully, making money. As the music industry’s cashpot moves from record sales to touring, so hip-hop stars without impressive live shows will start to lose out. That’s why every song on the [a]Jay-Z[/a] album has a lighters-in-the-air singalong chorus and it’s also why Wayne thought he’d be better off with an album he could turn into a colossal rock concert.

Wayne’s touring plans have gone somewhat awry, however, since he was served with a year-long jail sentence for criminal possession of a loaded weapon. By the time he gets out, hopefully (the release date’s flopped back and forth between February and June, having already been put back approximately 576 times) ‘[b]Tha Carter IV[/b]’ will be due for release and this whole detour can be forgotten.

So has ‘[b]Rebirth[/b]’ all been a waste of time? Not entirely, if Weezy’s taught us anything it’s this: kids, stay off the Tixylix.

[b]Sam Wolfson[/b]

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Click here to get your copy of Lil Wayne’s ‘Rebirth’ from the Rough Trade shop.