Artist: Lil Wayne
Album: I Am Not A Human Being Part 2
Label: Young Money
As much as I hate to say it, the quality of Lil Wayne’s music has inarguably become questionable in recent years. When The Carter 3 arrived, Wayne was on top of the world with a record that reflected both his precision as a street-bred lyricist and his ability to craft a pop song with a hook you could not escape. The success that followed that release carried Wayne to a level of stardom few ever find. A rare space where all those contenders you battled over the years are unquestionably in a different place than you, and the likeliness you will ever be quote/unquote “normal” again has all but disappeared. To quote Wayne in his now infamous deposition video, he became “a superstar“. I cannot say for certain this point where one has topped their genre is as dangerous as it is cause for celebration, but everything Lil Wayne has released after this point has been met with varied critical and fan response beyond anything in his career prior. Wayne himself said he wanted to take a break, but still here we are, discussing another new release from hip hop’s most discussed artist.
The first thing that is abundantly clear on I Am Not A Human Being Part 2 is that it has almost nothing to do with the original 2010 release. Honestly, how could it? The original release was produced in the months leading up to his incarceration on gun charges, carried no autotune, and was described by Cash Money CEO Baby as Wayne performing ‘raw rap.’ The only theme, and I’m using the term loosely here, was Wayne’s persistent references to being an alien and a lyrical infatuation with sex, but neither could really be considered too independent from his other work in recent years. IANAHB2 was not released under the deadline of incarceration, it features multiple uses of vocoder, while it does feature “raw rap” in the form verses that play like freestyles, nearly every one of those verses is about money, sex, and drugs. It’s admirable and sounds pretty ego-tastic, but it’s nothing new. It would be foolish to think these themes would ever be absent from a Lil Wayne track, but now that he’s ten studio albums in one would think the 30-year old would have more to discuss with fans than the same three things that he built his name on almost two decades prior. There is something to be said for sticking to what fans like, of course, but even someone who drinks every day likes a different type of alcohol every now and then.
It would be acceptable for Wayne to deliver an album that offered no surprises if there was something to be said for the album’s lyrical content. No one can flow like Lil Wayne, and that is clear once again on IANAHB2. However, as I said earlier, the hard truth is that what he says is often quite repetitive. While this is admittedly made better by the creativity in Wayne’s metaphors and ability to twist phrasing, it’s ultimately subdued by your inability to ignore the familiarity of it all.
All is not a loss on IANAHB2, though, in fact there are two things that deserve volumes of praise. Nearly every beat and guest spot on the album have something to offer, and on repeat listens it’s these factors that will keep those who can get over the negatives coming back for more. One notable appearance, Gudda Gudda on the potential single “Gunwalk,” outshined Wayne so much that I found myself making notes to further discover his music before I even finished my first listen through of this album. Likewise, the beats from Juicy J and Crazy Mike keep you going when the other elements of the album dip. Juicy also offers a verse on the song “Trippy,” and just like Gudda Gudda leaves a bigger impression on the listener than the star of the album.
It is hard to write about the recent musical efforts of Lil Wayne without reflecting on everything going on in his personal life. The depressing irony in considering his recent health issues while listening to songs about partying your life away with “No Worries” is hard to ignore, and further cements the argument it’s time for Wayne to find new lyrical territory to explore. It’s literally killing him to embody the destructive, self-made “Rich As Fuck” millionaire who vaguely disguises the pain of loneliness with lines about getting as intoxicated as possible and sleeping around persona his image has become and yet he continues to churn out this mindless mush of rhymes and metaphors like water from a faucet because the vast majority of his so-called fans don’t have enough sense to stop buying his albums and demand better from someone who has proven repeatedly he’s capable of so much more.
I Am Not A Human Being Part 2 is at times greatly satisfying, but it ultimately ends up becoming the musical equivalent of watching someone with talent throw their gift away because they’ve either lost the passion they once carried or are too far gone in another well documented drug-induced state of consciousness where they likely could give a shit less what their fans think because it will (sadly) still sell. It oozes with sense of ego akin to Montgomery Burns, with endless references to how having enough money equates to getting away with anything. In this case, Wayne is getting away with selling music that would be questionable on a mixtape as complete album (a sequel, no less), and hopefully it’s the last straw with fans.
Review written by: James Shotwell