Lil Wayne is still with us, but he kind of pretty much isn’t. You know how everyone lives a unique life, and it’s hard to understand what someone else is going through without actually being inside his or her head? Yeah. Lil Wayne’s life is actually remarkably similar to my own. Some would say we’ve lived parallel lives. The trappings are startlingly alike:
When I was 9 years old, I experienced incredible, premature success at my chosen career, as I worked as a cashier in the lunch line at my elementary school. When Lil Wayne was 9, he joined Cash Money Records. At 14, I had pretty much cemented my creative legacy by building incredible Hot Wheels racetracks based solely on the instructions. Lil Wayne at 14 joined the group Hot Boys, and their second album went Platinum. Lil Wayne had Birdman as his mentor and father figure. Meanwhile, one of the men who really helped me grow and prosper through my youth, I also adopted as a father figure. He was also actually my dad, but he was a good one.
Lil Wayne has a tarnished legacy. Between roughly 2004 and 2008 I think it would be easy to say that he was at the top of the rap game (Tha Carter, Tha Carter II, Tha Carter III. Lollipop, anybody?). He’s always made a TON of music (he has 10 solo albums, each with like 20 tracks, and many mixtapes), which was a blessing that’s devolved into a curse, because from 2009 until now, he’s made a lot of trash. And I think that trash is tainting the memory of his greatness. Nowadays, it sounds like he just says random words (he’s said for many years that he never writes down his lyrics, but they used to be good), throws those words over a decently cool beat, and never does anything innovative or unique (knock Kanye all you want, but his albums evolve). It’s possible, even likely, that Lil Wayne’s decision to produce music so prolifically is based on a shrewd business calculus, but it has caused the signal-to-noise ratio of his music to drop precipitously over the past five years.
His health is gone too. Last year, when I saw that he was in the hospital having seizures, I found myself on TMZ (a rare occurrence). TMZ wrote that Lil Wayne was having his last rites read. I guess if you go to TMZ regularly, you know that most of their “news” is just trash? I didn’t know. I actually thought he was dying. He lived, but his obvious addiction to drugs and cough syrup, as well as his epilepsy, are probably not going to combine to improve the quality of his music going forward.
So I don’t know that we can expect much more out of Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr.
But let’s take a trip down memory lane. Let’s give back to Lil Wayne some of the credit he once earned and subsequently lost. Once upon a time, on “Mr. Carter”, a single off of “Tha Carter III” in 2008, Lil Wayne rapped, “And next time you mention Pac, Biggie and Jay-Z, don’t forget Weezy baby!” Sir, a ridiculous sentiment that once seemed faintly plausible.
Since very little of the music on Mumame is strictly rap , let’s kick it off with a sick mashup of Wayne with Imogen Heap, by R3K. Then we’ll turn to some pure rap. Lil Wayne used to throw down. His music used to pump you up. Let’s go.
Download available through SoundCloud.