Free Weezy Album (released July 4, 2015)
“That’s a one hot album every 10 year average and that’s so LAAAAAME”
Jay Z on Nas’ post Illmatic career
Me on Lil Wayne’s post Carter II career
If you’re a regular around these parts, you know I haven’t been the biggest Lil’ Wayne supporter in the past decade. And no, stans, that’s not simply out of hate. It’s out of frustration. When he’s good, he’s good — and he’s been VERY good at times. But year after year, he’s been coasting on his potential. Just look back at history.
2005 gave us Tha Carter II, where he first started making the claim of being the Best Rapper Alive. Based on that material, including a phenomenal series mixtapes and features, Weezy was living up to that moniker. He seemed to really strive to be the best.
But his reign on the top was short like leprechauns.
Subsequent albums were critically acclaimed yet vastly overrated (Tha Carter III), mildly entertaining but flawed (Tha Carter IV) or downright atrocious (pretty much everything else).
After his very public split with his “pops” Birdman, Wayne has the eyes and ears of the rap world. They’re ready to see if he’s as good as we know he can be, or if his story needs to be filed among the Legend of the Fall Offs. Only July 4, Wayne celebrated his independence from Cash Money Records with the Free Weezy Album, which could be his last chance to turn his potential into reality.
And the most frustrating thing about this album is that it almost seems like he pulls it off. ALMOST.
The album opener, “Glory” is the type of track that will have the Young Money militia furiously Tweeting #WEEZYBACK. Wayne’s Sayian power level is over 9,000 as he rattles off quotables with reckless abandon. “I’m ‘bout to act a badonkadonk, shamone, shamone/Don’t need sugar, I need cream, I’m dark and strong.” It ain’t Rakim but it’s catchy, memorable and infectious — it’s the stream of consciousness flow that made Wayne a star.
“Rest in peace to the Cash Money Weezy,” he proclaims on “He’s Dead,” where Wayne regretfully cuts ties with those who “throw dirt on (his) name.” Wayne also touches on issues like broken families and racism on “My Heart Races On” (“My momma hates that I have my daddy’s eyes/never looked into my daddy’s eyes” and “In a race against racists, that’s a color run”) and even touches on suicide on “London Roads.”
Potentially, we had a hit on our hands. But again, potential only gets you so far. Because the remaining 10 or so tracks unravel all that goodwill.
“I Feel Good” and “Psycho” are burdened by heavy-handed, unimaginative samples and god-awful punchlines, like when Wayne claims to “eat it like tilapia” on the former and “I smell her panties while she’s in the bathroom and taste whatever she left in them” on the latter. And I won’t even get into the “I fell asleep in it like Whitney” line. Good lord, dude, IT’S TOO SOON.
“Without You” features Bibi Bourelly, the writer behind that inexplicably popular Rihanna song, and carries the entire load, while Wayne drops lines as weak as sugar water. Similarly, Cory Gunz totally upstages the boss as usual on “Murda” — is that guy EVER gonna get his own album? At least Wayne outshines whoever the heck HoodBaby is on “I’m That N*gga,” which might be the worst-produced track I’ve heard all year. Imagine the robot man on your voicemail on lean and stuck in an infinite repetitive loop. It’s mind-numbing.
By the time Wayne starting singing “bow-wow-wow-yippie-yo-yippie-yay” on “Thinkin’ Bout You” I was 30 seconds away from hitting the psych ward.
Things pick up a bit at the end of the album, thankfully. Wayne and Euro’s double-time tag team flow is solid on “Pull Up” and Cool & Dre’s stellar production steals the show on “Pick Up Your Heart.”
Y’all might not believe me, but I really wanted Wayne to win with the Free Weezy Album. For better or worse, Wayne has influenced a decade of artists and has been at the helm of some of the biggest records in the past few years. He deserved one last strong outing. Although the Free Weezy Album is easily his best release since Tha Carter IV, it still fails to capitalize on a decade of potential.
Wayne slipped up again.
Best tracks: “Glory,” “London Roads,” “He’s Dead”
3 stars out of 5