The once-great Cash Money star is bankrupt of ideas
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. Just ask the staff at LA’s Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, who last week treated him for life-threatening seizures reported to have been caused by an overdose.
All that hasn’t stopped him returning to the herculean message of 2010’s ‘I Am Not A Human Being’ on this sequel. But Wayne’s 10th studio album sees memory of his charisma and sparkle during that mid ’00s era fade further. Though he still spits with the same southern flow and flair, songs such as ‘Trigger Finger’ and the unintentionally hilarious ‘Romance’ (“the best part of waking up is breakfast after a nap“) find the 30-year-old sounding uninspired and uninterested, the chilling growl and imaginative Auto-Tune of hits like ‘Got Money’ replaced by tired punchlines and lazy hooks.
It’s not all bad – the album’s deluxe edition sees Nicki Minaj rediscover the dirty sneer of her 2010 verse on Kanye West’s ‘Monster’ over ‘Lay It Down’, a remix of TNGHT tune ‘Easy Easy’, and there are reliably exciting productions from Dre and Juicy J to explore – but it’s hard not to want more from a man who claims to be so superhuman. “Last night I dreamt my dick turned to Megatron“, Wayne confides on opener ‘IANAHB’. Forget dreams, this is a nightmare.