You are what you like.
snitches get stitches
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Alright a couple reviews for the new Lil' Wayne album have begun trickling out... and everybody's loving it! I knew it was good... it's shaping up to be a classic!
Here's the Pitchfork review... they gave it a 8.7
Lil Wayne is a terrible guitarist. Just incredibly bad. The fact was evident at this year's Summer Jam, when he spent two and a half interminable minutes noodling and crooning all by his lonesome while a stadium full of New York's most devout hip-hop fans looked on bewildered. "Is he really playing the guitar right now?" giggled a teenage girl. "That's not a chord or anything!" Still, she recorded Wayne in all his tatted-up Tracy Chapman glory for YouTube posterity just the same. While everyone else on the day's bill-- from Alicia Keys to Kanye West-- filled their shortened, festival-style sets with hits and finely-tailored theatrics, the audience's most anticipated act took the opportunity get his Guitar for Dummies on; Lil Wayne is, as he likes to say, "different." Always has been.
Earmarked as a gifted elementary school student in New Orleans, he became the token prodigy of his hometown's Cash Money clique at the age of 16, spitting pipsqueak gangsterisms over skittering Mannie Fresh beats. And, opposed to the typical rap flame-out trajectory, Wayne got better-- and stranger-- with each album. Now, nine years after his first solo LP, and on the heels of an unprecedented glut of increasingly remarkable mixtape and internet leaks, we get Tha Carter III, the epic culmination of a lifetime of eccentricities. This is Wayne's moment and he embraces it on his own terms. Instead of hiding his bootleg-bred quirks in anticipation of the big-budget spotlight, he distills the myriad metaphors, convulsing flows, and vein-splitting emotions into a commercially gratifying package that's as weird as it wants to be; he eventually finds his guitar but keeps the strumming in check.
"I pay my dues, you keep the difference."
As the major music industry continues to wheeze and splinter, Lil Wayne's spitball marketing plan for C3 is an unprecedented masterstroke. Over the past couple of years, he's given away more worthwhile free music online than most artists of his stature ever release officially. Using the mixtape market as a free-for-all training ground, Wayne expanded his persona, voice, and talent while presumptively killing off thousands of wannabe MCs hoping to charge five bucks for some garbage CD-R. For that alone, he deserves thanks. Wayne set the definition for a Web 2.0 MC-- his output pours through computer speakers at broadband speeds. And while stellar tapes like Dedication 2 and Da Drought 3 offered-up plenty of hidden darts for sun-deprived message board nerds, his Just Say Yes policy toward any and all guest invitations (Enrique Iglesias? Why not!) provided maximum visibility and chiseled his radio-friendly chops. Piggybacking on hits by Chris Brown and Lloyd undoubtedly did wonders for his giggling teenage girl fan base, but a lesser-known assist appears to have had an even bigger effect on the new record.
"Gotta work everyday/ Gotta not be cliché/ Gotta stand out like Andre 3K."
One of the few satisfying tracks on OutKast's bungled Idlewild album was a woozy bitchfest called "Hollywood Divorce" featuring Lil Wayne. In hindsight, the invite feels like an act of sanctification. The song's a lesson in winning idiosyncrasies-- Andre, Big Boi, and Wayne are all salty, but they make sure to side-step pessimism (Big Boi deems rumor mongers "M&M's with no nuts"). Traces of the South's most genre-bursting, P-Funk-worshipping ATLiens can be heard all over C3, from Wayne's staccato phrasing on "Mr. Carter" to the extraterrestrial fetishism of "Phone Home" to the eclectic unpredictability of it all. The musical open-mindedness also lifts C3 above regional niches-- the #1 hit "Lollipop" sounds more like it was born on Jupiter than anywhere on earth. While Wayne isn't quite ready to produce something like "Hey Ya!", don't be shocked if you see him held up by a pair of leprechaun suspenders in the not-so-distant future.
"I've done it before, please don't make me do it no more."
C3 is Wayne's most absurd album to date but it's also his most personal. "Shoot Me Down", with its "Lose Yourself"-style guitar chug and ominous hook, has the rapper looking all the way back to age 12, when he accidentally shot himself with a .44 Magnum while toying with the gun in a mirror. "Two more inches I'd have been in that casket/ According to the doctor I could've died in traffic," he rhymes on "3 Peat", possibly referring to the day in 2001 when a disgruntled groupie shot at his tour bus, planting a bullet in his chest. Such details add even more gravitas to his grizzled, elastic timbre, which suggests an impossibly hoarse (and high) David Ruffin at times. "All I ask is don't take our love for granted," sings a perfectly sympathetic Babyface alongside Wayne on the lush ballad "Comfortable", the line coming off more like a saucer-eyed plea than a threat. And the LP's best track doubles as its most crazed and pained.
"Playing With Fire" is a full-on faux-metal stunner that hearkens back to Bad Boy's cinematic peak. On it, Wayne reaches Ghostface levels of paranoid distress: "I'm doin' the same shit Martin Luther King did/ Checkin' in the same hotel, in the same suite, bitch/ Same balcony like assassinate me, bitch!" His claims of MLK grandeur are far-fetched, but his impassioned delivery makes them seem more believable than one would think possible. Apparently, those Biggie and Pac references are getting to his codeine-addled brain-- after all, at 25, Wayne is now older than both legends were when they were gunned down. The implicit danger of carrying on such a legacy only adds to the rapper's dramatic reading, and his anguish burns as hot as his punchlines.
"I think everybody gonna like this one...I got one!"
Considering his running-faucet leak rate, there are bound to be fanboy quibbles about the intricacies of C3's tracklist (e.g., the buoyant web gem "La La La" should replace "La La" and its braindead Busta Rhymes verse, and what about the hazy "I Feel Like Dying" or the promising speed-soul track "3 a.m."?). But considering there are probably several hard drives stuffed with syrupy odes featuring Wayne's dubious auto-tuned howl, the final tally is exquisitely balanced and considered. After dozens of listens, the record's overflowing minutiae-- from Fabulous and Juelz Santana's overachieving cameos to Wayne's hilariously apropos kinship with "Macho Man" Randy Savage-- still feels limitless. Just as the record's cover playfully skews the Ready to Die/Illmatic baby-picture formula with Photoshopped tattoos, Wayne updates what it means to be the best rapper alive here. Gangster dandy. Fender-slinging sex god. Intergalactic prankster. It's all in him.
And here's the review from Rolling Stone... it got 4 1/2 stars
OK, it's true: he really is the best rapper alive. Lil Wayne made that claim on his last official CD, in 2005, and since then, he's unleashed an astonishing torrent of mixtapes, leaks and guest appearances to back up the boast. So his long-anticipated "legit" album follow-up feels a bit gratuitous. Still, Tha Carter III is useful as an exclamation point. It establishes beyond a doubt that the zeitgeist in 2008 belongs to one artist: a dreadlocked dadaist poet from New Orleans with a bad weed habit and a voice like a bullfrog. As Wayne croaks in the woozy "3Peat," "Get on my level/You can't get on my level/You will need a space shuttle/Or a ladder that's forever."
Wayne has taken the task of album-making seriously: This isn't a mixtape, it's a suite of songs, paced and sequenced for maxaqimum impact. He's collected sleek, powerful beats from top producers (Kanye West, Swizz Beatz), enlisted A-list guest stars (Jay-Z, T-Pain) and served up a range of textures and moods, from the elegiac Hurricane Katrina protest "Tie My Hands" to the bubblegum bumper "Lollipop," in which Weezy has a laugh at selling out by creating the most outrageously pumped-up sellout single in history. Thematically, Carter III is a victory lap. In the hilarious "Dr Carter," he boasts about resuscitating hip-hop: "As I put the light down his throat/I can only see flow/His blood's starting to flow/His lungs starting to grow."
As usual, Wayne's tumbling freestyle rhymes are full of imagination and surprise, but his voice itself is half the fun. He shouts, gasps, tries a Caribbean patois, sings snatches of "Umbrella" and "Irreplaceable," and impersonates E.T. He loves that brother-from-another-planet stuff —"I am a Martian," he raps —but it's clear he's also thinking about his worldly legacy. The album cover links Carter III to Biggie's Ready to Die and Nas' Illmatic, and he makes no bones about coveting a spot in hip-hop's pantheon. "Next time you mention Pac, Biggie or Jay-Z/Don't forget Weezy Baby," he advises on "Mr Carter." It's sound advice.