From 2pac to X-Raided, several rappers have released albums while incarcerated. After battling a 2007 gun charge, Lil Wayne was sentenced to a year in prison. Shortly before entering Riker’s Island, Weezy recorded several music videos intended to promote his Rebirth album and underwent multiple all-night studio sessions with the intention of placing the finished tracks on the fourth addition of his The Carter series. The result of those long nights in the studio amounted to a short album entitled I Am Not A Human Being. Choosing to start from scratch when he leaves Riker’s, Wayne decided to compile the best songs for Human Being and release it digitally on his birthday (September 27th) and then release it in stores October 12th. While it may have taken some toll on the music, the rush to release I Am Not A Human Being may also adversely affect retailers, as it’s likely that once their stock hits the shelves, a majority of Wayne-iacs will have already purchased (or downloaded) the album. Nevertheless, the music is what matters and with a mere ten tracks on Human Being, there’s plenty to enjoy and a decent amount of material that some will find disheartening.
I Am Not A Human Being gets off to a solid start with the hype track, “Gonorrhea” featuring Drake. With an out-of-this-world flow, Wayne delivers the goods, bragging, “you boys is washed up/and I’m sh*tting on ‘em like Two Girls And One Cup.” All jokes aside, lines like these completely make up for what sounds like an uninspired delivery; that’s not to mention the stylish hook thrown in between Weezy’s verses. Drake’s cameo is a welcome addition as he streams through lines before landing a punch of his own with the tongue-in-cheek, “big cheese big, bread, call this sh*t a calzone.” The Olympicks provide Weezy F. Baby with the perfect instrumental to pay homage to the trap on “Hold Up.” Wayne seems like he’s on a roll with the line “weed so strong it’s like I twist tornadoes” before sinking into well-worn territory with the drop punchline, “shoot you from your head to your shoulders – shampoo.” Regardless this is some of Wayne’s best material on Human Being and he redeems himself with his final verse, opening it with the line “sleeping in the Maybach, wake me when the check comes/and I keep the toast, turn your ass into bread crumbs“. Sadly, his guest feature, T-Streets, is relatively unimpressive and drops nothing but cliché attempts to sound thuggish. Drake returns for the female-friendly “With You” produced by StreetRunner. The song benefits from another great hook and a smoothly flipped vocal. The song also demonstrates Wayne’s rarely seen ability to stay on-topic. However Wayne once again drops a plethora of hit-or-miss punchlines that hinder the song’s delivery.
I Am Not A Human’s title track sounds like a Rebirth leftover. Over a retro guitar-driven instrumental Wayne once again hits the mark with certain punchlines (“y’all a bunch of squares like a mother*cking grid“), but falls flat with other ones (“ballin with my bloods; call it B-Ball“). “I’m Single” has its moments and benefits from its ultra chill beat produced by Noah “40” Shebib, but as an album cut, it sounds uninspired. The follow-up track, “What’s Wrong With Them” is completely forgettable from the song’s instrumental to its lyrics. “Right Above It” features a nearly identical verse from Drake as used on “Bollywood Flow,” which is superb in its own right. It must be payback for Weezy outshining Drizzy on “Miss Me” (off Thank Me Later) because none of Wayne’s lines seem to connect the way he clearly intended them to hit. The trend continues on “Popular,” which even has a lackluster chorus. Luckily Wayne manages to prevent a crash landing with “That Ain’t Me” which features another immaculate StreetRunner production. Wayne offers social commentary of his own, spitting, “try to stay afloat on my inner-tube/when they turned my city into a swimming pool/before that it was a cesspool” The track also succeeds due to Jay Sean’s respectable hook. I Am Not A Human Being’s closer, “Bill Gates” finds Wayne in the same depth as “Right Above It.” Once again, nothing about the production or the lyrics allows the song to transcend the album’s nadir and bring it to the level of Human Being’s hits.
Regardless if you’re a fan of Lil Wayne or not, you can recognize his ability to make simplistic punchlines sound mindboggling. However certain lines have the opposite effect and sound trite. I Am Not A Human Being is certainly not Lil Wayne’s best work to date, but it has enough average material within it to satisfy those impatiently waiting for the rap icon’s return to the booth in November.
Lil Wayne “I Am Not A Human Being”