Sometimes I’ll listen to an album and go “what the hell were they thinking?” Lil’ Wayne has gigantic balls for being bold with doing a hard rock album full of auto-tune, but he also crosses the line between being an idiot and being a genius. I’m split over what crown he should be honored with.
I’ll give credit where credit is due, Rebirth (Cash Money/UniversalMotown) is a complete mess, but within that mess is Lil’ Wayne’s twisted idea of what works. Lil’ Wayne has become who has become in the last few years by understanding the limits, catering to his audiences, and twisting it by the sack because he can. It’s his version of hard rock, but more about the hard rock post-Nirvana than it is anything before. His attempt to be progressive works within the limits of his own world, taking hints of the eccentric talent of Andre 3000 but owing more to keeping Hollywood excited than Atlanta, or in his case New Orleans. It’s very far removed from anything Lil’ Wayne has done, but within the colostomy bag of sounds is someone who is cock sure of how to make these sounds work.
Case in point: “Ground Zero”, the third song on the album. With his hard rock backdrop he raps, and to me this works great. It’s not Mike Shinoda by any means, but he’s at his best when he’s rhyming while under the influence of who knows what he’s taking. For him though, what he rhymes/raps about can be turned into song, so he’s not afraid to talk about biting panties, metaphorically munching on female abdomen, or offering a middle finger to anyone who dares step up to him as he’s metaphorically munching on female abdomen. I don’t know if he’s serious or if this is the 21st century update of Bill Cosby‘s Hooray For The Salvation Army Band.
Musically and lyrically, it sounds like all of the cliches much of 90′s rock and hard rock has become, especially all of the metal/hip-hop hybrid bands that came out in the last 15 years. This isn’t to say that Lil’ Wayne can’t do it, because I think if he worked with the right people and made some decent songs, he would be viewed differently. Maybe he’s playing on that, he could care less about what rock, metal, or hip-hop critics think. This is the hybrid music Justin Timberlake warned us about. If Lil’ Wayne is having a laugh with this, it’s funny to listen to it from that perspective. If he’s serious… no, he can’t be. If he’s making music that he knows will be discussed, talked about, mocked, bashed, and in the end bought, he has done it again.
With Mary J. Blige covering Led Zeppelin for her forthcoming album, and this being Lil’ Wayne’s *first* (which to me means he promises more) hard rock album, all I can say is that The Roots need to save the day with their announced cover of Frank Zappa‘s “Peaches En Regalia” for their forthcoming LP, fast.