I think just by typing that name all backpackers reading through immediately slammed their computers in anger. But hear me out. I too like Nas and Canibus and all the other underground hip-hop artists that get you indie cred.
But I also think Lil’ Wayne gets an unfair amount of hatred because he’s popular (which seems common these days…I’ll refrain from the usual tired hipster cliches/jokes). And I’m not just saying that because we’re from the same city. If you really look beyond his reputation and image, I think he has a fair amount of talent. Here’s ten songs that I think represent that:
1) 3 Peat
2) 6 Foot 7 Foot
3) Mr. Carter
4) A Milli
6) Shoot Me Down
8) How To Love
10) Nightmares of the Bottom
You will notice these tracks pretty much came from Carters III and IV. I think this when he came into his own not only commercially but artistically as well. Tha Carter III is critically acclaimed. It has a score of around 80 on the holy grail of analytical geekitude, Metacritic. The beats really hook you in and are danceable. Wayne sounds energized and hungry and h also never lets his guests (like Jay-Z) outshine him. I felt Wayne had more direction, more focus on III than IV (he lost something on his latest output…perhaps it was his legal woes). The last track on Carter III, “Dontgetit”, is an interesting piece about Al Sharpton and racial relations that blurs the lines between hip-hop and spoken-word.
As an English major and writer, I can appreciate Lil’ Wayne’s sense of wordplay. He employs a lot of verbal wit. He’s not a storyteller like Eminem or honestly as socially conscious as Common. But he deals more in free verse, surrealistic abstraction. Think of him as a lyrical Salvador Dali. It’s more about the individual parts than the sum. Every line he plays on the varied meanings of words and their implications. It’s like George Carlin where you have to listen to the second line to get the full pun/joke (he relied on this too much with IV but that’s another story). His style of rapping can be epic and, admittedly at times overly boastful, but he stretches it so far it gets to the point of absurdity. He has a lot of left-field ideas and despite his position as part of the current trend of hip-hop that glorifies materialism and self-aggrandizement, he puts more thought into his lyrics than say, someone like 2 Chainz or Soulja Boy. The latter two may repeat the same line thirty times in a song but Wayne always has fresh, unique verses and a style unlike anyone else in hip-hop. Love him or hate him you can’t deny he doesn’t bite other people’s style.
So yeah, that was my defense of Lil’ Wayne. And I tried to go beyond “omg lil wayne is a beast fuck yall haterz he the best in da game right now”. Don’t let his fanbase bring you down. I’ll be the first to say they are dumb but I think overall Wayne deserves his success. Birdman saw something in him in the ghettos of New Orleans and there’s no looking back now. Do your worst with your rebuttals.