Is Lil Wayne the Best Rapper Alive?: Head to Head with Edd

Welcome back to Head to Head with Edd, where yours truly goes toe-to-toe with the superfans of the game’s biggest artists. We’ll take a look at the selected artist’s biggest hits and misses and see where we can find common ground.

When you talk about Lil Wayne superfans, there is NO ONE bigger than this guy. This time around I’m joined by homie and social media star Lil Brick, who rides for Weezy harder than any person I’ve ever met. He’s an aspiring artist and always has something hilarious (or even introspective) to say over on Twitter. Give him a follow. But today is all about Wayne, and while we’re sometimes on opposite ends of the Weezy spectrum, there’s common ground too. It’s time for Lil Brick and Papa Brick to collide.

What are Lil Wayne’s three greatest albums?

Lil Brick:

Tha Carter III

Tha Carter II

Tha Carter V

I’ve always defined “best” and “greatest” separately – I feel that “best” entails pure skill (Big L, Big Pun, Kool G, etc. would make my “best” rappers list) while “greatest” includes skill, but also accounts for legacy, longevity, influence, context, and other intangibles. Furthermore, when it comes to Wayne, who’s always worked at a monstrous pace and specialized as a vocalist, I tend to not deem production as important as his rapping. Therefore, what appeals to me might be different from the average hip hop critic’s recommendation. So with those aspects in mind, I feel that the best Lil Wayne albums, in no particular order, would be Tha Carter II (2005), Tha Carter V (2014-2018* = this will be covered in depth later), and Free Weezy Album (2015). The greatest Wayne albums, however, are Tha Carter III (2008), Tha Carter II (2005), and Tha Carter V (2014-2018). Since the question limited me to albums, I didn’t include mixtapes, but two of them reign over all of the albums I’ve named.


1. Tha Carter II

2. Tha Carter III

3. Tha Carter

No, Tha Carter III is not Wayne’s best album, but I understand why it’s arguably his most beloved. C3 was Wayne’s explosion into mainstream, the moment where he enlisted countless fans into his Young Money militia. And for most folks, your first experience is always your favorite. But if we’re talking outright best, I’m going with Tha Carter II. After the staggering improvement he showed on the original Carter, he took everything to the next level on his 2005 release – one he hasn’t topped yet and definitely deserves mention as a Southern rap classic.

What’s Tunechi’s worst album?

Lil Brick: 500 Degreez

I feel like Wayne’s post-Cash Money era (2014-present) has given us incredibly deep lyricism; a more introspective, poetic Wayne with flashes of that eccentricity that we all have come to love; and a more “raw” Weezy that was lacking at the beginning of the 2010s. As a result, projects from the 2009-2013 era have largely been drowned out due to the improved skill and artistic transparency Wayne has shown in more recent years. I don’t really find myself listening to I Am Not A Human Being (2010), because Wayne has since released more exciting projects. Going back to older times, which sadly feel ancient now, 500 Degreez (2002) is a project that I think isn’t up to par with his earlier catalog. I know the popular picks tend to be Rebirth (2009) and I Am Not A Human Being II (2013), but I think Wayne should be applauded for his effort on the former (or at least be given a pass for trying to have fun after already having had achieved more than a decade in rap) and that the latter is actually a much more influential and enjoyable project than people give it credit for (its original version, which recently leaked, is full of gems).

Edd: I Am Not A Human Being II

I know Young Brick will give Wayne a pass for IANAHB2, but y’all know that’s not my style. Although I will defend “Rich as F***” until the day I die, the rest of the album is all over the place, laden with nonsensical lyrics (“That p**** boneless, that’s Chick-fil A” – playa what?) and juvenile sexual innuendo. It’s all of Wayne’ worst habits confined to one place. This. Was. Not. Good.

What’s the first song that made you appreciate Wayne?

Lil Brick: “Something You Forgot”

I feel like my journey as a connoisseur of all-things-Tunechi can’t really be defined by one song, but there certainly have been highlights. Maybe a few hundred. I remember playing a racing video game when I was a kid that featured 2004’s “Go DJ” (which – cool fact – is basically a UNLV song Birdman deceptively passed along to Wayne). I remember the “A Milli” video dropped when I was 9 and I just stared in awe at my laptop screen in class while my classmates gathered around me (this was Memphis in 2008 – Lil Wayne was everything). I remember spitting “John,” “Hustle Hard,” “Drop The World” and “No Love” at lunch with my friends. Everyone had Tha Carter IV (2011) memorized like it was a school requirement. But one day I stumbled across “Something You Forgot” on YouTube and everything changed, and with that being my introduction to non-commercial-Wayne, my hunger as a fan reached a new level. That was raw “WEEZY” at his finest, effortlessly flowing through flows full of remorse and reminiscence. The production may now be aged, and Wayne’s technical abilities may have since developed, but “Something You Forgot” was one of many unforgettable tracks during an unforgettable era.

Edd: “Go DJ”

You ain’t wrong, playa, “Something You Forgot” is flames, especially that “What About Love” sample. Wayne has released so much content over the past 20 years that it’s hard to pin down when I started to appreciate him but it was probably around Tha Carter and “Go DJ.” Prior to that, Wayne had a few tracks I enjoyed well enough (“Way of Life” among them) but he always felt like a novelty act – the Flavor Flav of Hot Boyz, so to speak. But when Wayne began maturing as a lyricist my perception changed, with “Go DJ” being a big turning point in my fandom.

What’s Wayne’s best single?

Lil Brick: I’ll say my picks for best Wayne tracks are “Up To Me” (1999), “Miss My Dawgs” (2004), “Trouble” (2007), “Tie My Hands” (2008) and “Open Letter” (2018). I think each of these tracks break the unfortunate stereotype that many people continue to hold of Wayne not being an artist of “substance” (I could go on an entire monologue about how invalid that stereotype is, but as Wayne used to often say, “just let it breathe”). “Trouble” is produced by my favorite producer, StreetRunner, and its second verse is my favorite Wayne verse. That’s definitely a special track in my heart. But “Open Letter” is the story of my life. I felt, felt, felt, felt, felt that track. For someone like Lil Wayne, once known as the global ambassador of sex, drugs, and the taboo novelties of capitalism, to come out and show such vulnerability on this track, talking about everything from his legacy to suicidal contemplations, the Martian shows he truly is a human being after all.

Edd: “A Milli”

Sometimes I get mad at myself for asking these questions. I mean, I’m not sure how many singles Wayne has – thought I’m betting Brick can recite them all by release date on command – but it has to be around, what 40 billion? I’m sure I’m forgetting something but sometimes the most obvious answer is the best, so let’s do “A Milli.”


But no single better showcases Wayne on his best day – mastery of cadence, instantly quotable bars, an instantly recognizable beat and that intangible starpower he brought to all his standout tracks. It’s certainly not the most introspective song and maybe even feels slightly dated today, but it’s Wayne at his best – just launching non-sequiturs to incredible effect.

Wayne’s mixtape run is legendary. Which is his best?

Lil Brick: Da Drought 3 and Dedication 2

I’m sorry, I know this is borderline-illegal to say in hip hop culture, but I’ve never been the biggest fan of No Ceilings (2009). Sure, it’s iconic, impressive, and influential, but I think Wayne upped it lyrically and technically on the more recent Dedication 6 (2017) and Dedication 6: Reloaded (2018). Remember what I said about “best” vs. “greatest?” Keep that in mind here before you come at my neck – No Ceilings is certainly greater than D6, but as I said before, I simply think 2014-2020 Wayne is a better rapper than where he was at from 2009-2013 (this logic also applies to Tha Carter III (2008)- which is universally lauded as his magnum opus). Sonic preferences aside, lyrically and technically, modern Wayne is simply better than Wayne 10 years ago. That all being said, the best Lil Wayne mixtapes – and projects in general – are Da Drought 3 (2007) and Dedication 2 (2005). I could explain why, but I shouldn’t have to. Install the DatPiff app, download these two tapes, and find out for yourself. You’re welcome.

Edd: Da Drought 3

Brick’s over here cheating with his double picks. But he DID pick the two best ones, so it’s hard to hate. You can go with either one, but I’ll side with Da Drought 3, since it has incredible replay value. Some of my favorite Wayne moments are simply him hijacking other folks’ beats, which he does to great effect here. “Upgrade,” “Put Some Keys on It” and “Dipset” are among my favorite songs from him. Ever.

Weezy has a million features. Which appearance was his best?

Lil Brick: If I recall correctly, this man has over 600 features, and those are just the ones we know of. You’re asking me to pick ONE!? (Soulja Boy voice). Just to make it fun, I won’t think this one out too long. Off the top of my head: “Death Wish” with Jadakiss, “Hollywood Divorce” with OutKast/Snoop, and “Errbody Remix” with Yo Gotti are all excellent standouts from three very different eras. Obviously, I could name many more, but then my hair would end up looking like Wayne’s by the time I’d be finished.

Edd: “You”

Like Stanely KuBrick said, yeahhhh, this was kind of an unfair question. It’s impossible to narrow down. I guess “favorite feature” might be easier. I’m going with his contribution to Lloyd’s “You,” a track where he not only stayed on subject (a MAJOR pet peeve is when the guest rapper just rambles about whatever and not the topic – looking at YOU, Rick Rawse) but actually adds to the proceedings without totally overshadowing the vocalist. This is how you do a fire feature.

Name Wayne’s most underrated album

Lil Brick: Tha Carter V

For all you people who didn’t appreciate Tha Carter V, go listen to the original 2014 version, which was leaked in 2019, as well as the recent leaks on The Carter Chronicles. I think when you look at the context, narratives, factors, expectations, and turmoil that came with Tha Carter V, and you take the best from all the different versions of it … I think it’s the album that distinguishes Wayne listeners from Wayne fans, at least in the modern day. His changes, both as an artist and as a person, between the sabotaged 2014 version and the 2018 version that ultimately was released to the world are beautiful yet tragic. The more aware of them you are, the more you’ll appreciate this album. Free Weezy Album (2015) is also an excellent project that sadly got swept under the rug due to its exclusive Tidal release and later removal. Tha Block Is Hot (1999) is a teenage Wayne stumbling through raps about the goods and bads of growing up famous in the streets of New Orleans. Like Father Like Son (2006) is cinematic and captivating, and provides insight into times that were very different for the historic Birdman-Wayne duo. Wayne’s whole career is underrated. People don’t know his catalog. It’s unfortunately been simplified and regurgitated to “Carter II, Carter III, fell off with IANAHB 2, Rebirth.”

Edd: Tha Carter IV

I’m still not sure why C4 gets such a bad rap. Cuz the raps aren’t bad! Maybe it’s simply the result of unreachable expectations. C4 came after Wayne’s well-publicized legal issues and mixed critical response to the rock-fueled Rebirth and so-so I Am Not A Human Being. So fans expected greatness when they saw the words “Tha” and “Carter” attached to a new album. Arguably it might have been the weakest in the Carter saga at that point but it was FAR from bad – in fact, it didn’t suffer the outright low points of its predecessor (no “Mrs. Officer” here, THANK GOD). It might not have the cultural significance of Carters II and III but it has merits. And I definitely revisit it more than C3.

Mixtape Weezy or Album Weezy – which do you prefer?

Lil Brick: Personally, I think the line between Mixtape Wayne and Album Wayne is thin as ever, and I love it. Funeral (2020) shows us plenty of flashes of both, and I think that blend is what hardcore fans can really catch and appreciate, but also may tragically be what has alienated Wayne from portions of his former audience. If you expect a type of Wayne, you’ll always be disappointed. Let go of the expectations, and enjoy his versatility and eccentricity for what it is, and you should be in for a fun ride whenever you hear the famous lighter flick. Although my two picks for Wayne’s best projects were both mixtapes, heading into the new decade, I’m much more excited for Wayne to continue to put out original albums. The days of the mixtape itself may be over, but I think Wayne is no longer restrained by Cash Money to the point that we can’t expect flashes of “Mixtape Weezy” to continue to show up on future commercial releases. I consider 2020 Lil Wayne an underground mainstream rapper. Think about it.

Edd: Mixtape Weezy and it ain’t even close. As I said earlier, Wayne is at his best when he’s without restrictions and just flows like a madman. Dedication 2, Da Drought 3, No Ceilings – that’s when Wayne isn’t hindered by stuff dumb ol’ stuff like concepts or track sequencing. Nah, it’s just one man going absolutely ballistic over another person’s beat. When the cuffs are off, he’s unstoppable.

What’s your favorite Tune punchline?

Lil Brick: This is like asking a mother who her favorite child is, except she has a million children. For the sake of maintaining my sanity, I’m going to narrow this down to lyrics only from his two most recent albums. It may not be senior yearbook quote material, but this bar from “Mama Mia” (Funeral) really made me grin from ear to ear: “narcotic abuser, no needles, ‘cause my pockets ballooning.” For fans of more introspective lyrics, I’d point to this line from “Open Letter” (Tha Carter V): “feel like an anchor tied to my finger, got me sinking to the bottom of my drink.”

Edd: For me it’s not always what Wayne says, it’s HOW he says it. Like on “Dipset”: “I am a robot and this robot is on overload/And I always will be hot like I’m an overcoat” – reading that sounds pretty stupid, but Wayne’s android-like cadence on “I-am-a-robot” never fails to crack me up. Or on “Upgrade”: Put a motherf***er on ice like the Maple Leaves/That’s a hockey team, and I ain’t on no hockey team/But I’m a champion, where’s the f***in’ Rocky theme?/Rest In Peace Apollo Creed/I’m a monster, every day is Halloween” – it’s like he realizes mid-verse that he’s NOT a hockey player, then snaps out of his confusion, gets audibly depressed mentioning Apollo Creed, and goes back into maniac mode again. THAT’S the personality I talk about when mentioning Wayne’s mush-mouthed offspring that populate rap today. Charisma is everything when it comes to being an effective rapper.

Lil Wayne once claimed to be the best rapper alive. Was that ever true? And if so, when?

Lil Brick: If Kendrick Lamar had released Funeral, he’d be lauded for it. If Drake had dropped Free Weezy Album, it’d be celebrated as a career highlight. If newer wave rappers that seem to have taken away commercial spotlight from Wayne dropped free projects like Dedication 6 and its sequel D6: Reloaded, we’d hear about the excellent display of skill for years. I think these are all signs, hypothetical as they may be, of Wayne’s greatness. He’s a victim of the LeBron effect; he’s been so good for so long, that people take it for granted and now he’s no longer deemed as exciting as his newer counterparts. Furthermore, his relatively short quality dip in 2010-2013 is sadly also when he was at his celebrity peak, his image and sound has grown more vulgar and less family-friendly over time, and his recent feud with Cash Money regrettably caused the limelight to shift to artists that took individual elements of his artistry and expanded on them. I don’t think his music is as culturally impactful or revolutionary as it once was, but that’s simply because he’s surrounded by his own DNA in every corner of hip hop. I think as a lyricist and as a persona, the Wayne we have now is more mature and developed than the “prime Wayne” of the mid-2000s, and it’s instead been more of a public shift in interest that’s led to him no longer consistently being mentioned among the elite. He’s been at it since Tupac and Biggie were alive, and he’s still only a year older than Future. 60 projects, 2000 songs, and 27 years of fame? And the fact that all of that could ultimately end up being only the surface of his total inventory, which is STILL expanding? Yep, sounds like the GOAT to me. And if artists as wide ranging as Lil Uzi Vert to Scarface can agree with me giving Wayne that title, then what’s there to disagree with?

Edd: See, just when I was about to clap back on some of your early points, you bring it back around and force me to agree. I do think that 2010-2013 era is a huge stain on his resume, and the fact that nearly every current mainstream trap artist is a carbon copy of 2010s-era Wayne has taken away from his uniqueness. While his whole “best rapper alive” bluster awhile back was definitely a reach, it’s not unprecedented – I mean, what rapper says “I’m the 13th best rapper alive?” They ALL say they’re the best. I guess Wayne could make the case for being the Biggest Mainstream Rapper alive during his peak in the late 00s, but best? Nah, I’m too stingy with the GOAT label to pass Tune the torch just yet.

So who are you rolling with? Was Lil Brick more convincing or did Edd win the battle? Let us know below.



  1. No. He’s not.

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