Artist: Lil Wayne
Album: I Am Not A Human Being II
Label: Young Money Entertainment / Cash Money Records / Republic Records
Release Date: 3/26/2013
The opening moments of I Am Not A Human Being II sound just as epic as you would expect from a Lil Wayne album. Or at least how you once envisioned one to sound.
Jazz pianist Eric Lewis tickles the ivories on the “IANAHB” intro with a thunderous, dramatic solo that would seem to serve as the perfect backdrop for the face of Young Money to catapult himself back into both relevance and reverence.
But then Dwayne Michael Carter steps to the mic, banally lighting his blunt and halting the heightening momentum of the past minute and a half as if he were throwing the E-brake on a runaway freight car, impetuously pulling the train into a station of displeasing mediocrity.
Not even five bars into the album, Wayne campaigns for the prospective presidency of his penis and awkwardly transitions that into saying he’s “in the ocean, getting shark p*ssy,” mocking us all for our naive expectations, reminding us why we questioned him in the first place.
Instances like these are more than few and far between on I Am Not A Human Being II. They’re the established norm.
Lil Wayne may not be a human being, but he’s no longer a mythical martian. He’s simply an above-average rapper who bogs down his own gravitas-laden records with a fusty flow and childish rhymes that rarely ever seem to deviate beyond references to his gentalia or his infatuation with cunnilingus, anymore.
If Tha Carter IV unofficially marked the death of Wayne’s status amongst rap’s elite, I Am Not A Human Being II serves as the two-year memorial service. At the very least, it’s semi-eventful.
There is definitely a few solid cuts on I Am Not A Human Being II, it’s just that whenever the album appears to approach a peak, Wayne provides a valley of equal or greater value.
On the Detail-produced “Romance,” one of the more impressive instrumentals on the project, Wayne completely destroys the mood of the record with smirk-inducing lines like “I stand up in that p*ssy like a sunroof” and a hook in which he so eloquently states “The best part of waking up is breakfast after a nut,” to the tune of the famed Folgers’ jingle. How is one expected to take Wayne’s music seriously when it’s abundantly clear that he himself doesn’t even?
The album’s most successful single “Love Me” features an equal parts eerie and encapsulating beat by en vogue producer Mike WiLL Made It and a captivating hook by resident hook deities Future and Drake. Again though, we see Wayne as his own worst enemy, stumbling over his own awkwardly sexual syllables and bringing the entire track down with him. “Girl, I fuck who I want and fuck who I don’t/ Got that A1 credit, that’s that filet mignon/ She said “I never want to make you mad I just want to make you proud”/ I said “Baby just make me cum/Then don’t make a sound.”
Whereas Wayne’s brilliance once lied in his ingenuity, those same eccentric intricacies have manifested into a superfluous schtick that casts a dark, sullied shadow too large even for outstanding supporting performances from the likes of Future, Drake, Juicy J and Gunplay to escape.
To further frustrate matters, there are flashes, albeit extremely brief ones, of the Weezy F of yesteryear. “Gunwalk” showcases Wayne spitting with machine gun explosiveness while “Trigger Finger” features the 30-year-old emcee waxing poetic over a sinister beat with daunting dexterity and threatful boasts. It’s over these two Juicy J-produced instrumentals, where Wayne plays the role of the gun-toting vigilante that he seems most comfortable and in his element.
While the majority of the production isn’t bad, the album as whole is all-over-the-place sonically and sounds a lot more like a big-budget mixtape, than a cohesive project. Much like the bulk of Wayne’s bars, there is no direction, rhyme or reason. No feeling, except that of creative emptiness.
Whether he’s bored, uninspired or just doesn’t give a f*ck (or perhaps all three), the only thing that Wayne seems to be out to prove on his tenth studio album is just how far removed he is from his enigmatic “mixtape monster” glory days.
In late 2007, Wayne made the rapid leap from hot feature artist to sacrosanct superstar, polarizing the hip hop game with his unforeseen work ethic and ethereal delivery. Half a decade later, ironically Wayne represents everything we’ve seen and heard before, struggling to keep pace with a volatile, progressive genre.
Wayne isn’t just hustling backwards, he’s stuck in reverse, accelerating down a 300-foot cliff. Creatively spontaneous rhymes and unpredictability have been replaced by calculated, redundant punchlines. An infectious fire and general energy that once permeated his verses extinguished by a lazy, apathetic approach.
When he was at his pinnacle, regardless of the substance of his verses, Weezy attacked the mic with a ferocity and insatiable hunger where you almost feared he’d explode through your speakers and swallow your earlobes whole.
That sense of desperation is nearly extinct, as is the market demand for his music. I Am Not A Human Being II sold just over 200,000 units its first week in stores, a far cry from the 964,000 moved by 2011′s Tha Carter IV.
Lil Wayne has said that he plans to retire following the release of Tha Carter V, and whenever that project should surface is anyone’s guess.
Perhaps it would behoove the man who once proclaimed himself “the next Tupac” to step away from the booth for a while and decide if, at a tired 30, he is physically capable of holding the seemingly debilitating weight of such a title ever again. Or if he even wants to.
Whether Wayne’s recent brush with death by sizzurp fuels a heroic career comeback, or he chooses to permanently retire to the role of full-time father and “best rapper alive” emeritus, perhaps we’d all be better served either way.