I used to be a big fan of “Family Guy.” I still watch it most weeks, but upon reaching the end of a recent episode it occurred to me that I don’t truly enjoy it all that much anymore. Sure, I’ll laugh while it’s on, but when it ends I just feel sort of empty inside. The novelty of the show’s say-anything humor and pop culture trivia wore off a while back and now it is just coasting on a gimmick.
I worry that Lil Wayne is headed down the same path. So far we have been able to laugh at his nihilistic ramblings and forgive his misogynistic humor because what he is able to do with his mouth has us lost for words (umm, his rhyming skills, that is.) But there is only so long someone can make it on dirty jokes and obscure pop culture references. At some point the intelligent people of America are going to say, “Enough Weezy! You’re a grown-ass man. Act like one!”
That point isn’t quite here yet. C3 is one of the top rap albums in what has been a decidedly down year and Wayne’s career trajectory keeps rising. But there is nothing like a half-assed mix-tape to prove that despite our admiration, Lil Wayne is on a short leash and we can get bored with him at any time.
Dedication 3 can hardly be classified as a Lil Wayne album. It’s more of a showcase for his stable of Young Money, umm, let’s call it “talent.” None of these rappers are terrible, but I’d have a difficult time telling you which ones are my favorites because there just isn’t enough to distinguish between them. They all spit uninteresting lines about guns and girls and sound more or less exactly like every rapper you don’t care about. All the while Wayne just sort of sits in the background blubbering nonsense through Auto-Tune.
This format was the fate of most of the album tracks that I was most excited about. When it comes to mix-tapes I tend to gravitate toward the beats of songs I enjoy in their original form. Maybe this makes me sound disingenuous as a critic but, hey, these guys are the ones who decided to create an art form out of rapping over other people’s songs. Anyway, seeing how Paper Trail hasn’t left my tape deck since I bought it (I don’t really have it on tape) I anticipated hearing what Wayne would do with “Whatever You Like.” Turns out he turned it into a full-blown posse track, alerting listeners that they are free to choose any member of the Young Money crew that appeals to them. Sorry, Jae Millz. While you at least held your own on the mix-tape I’m still going with Wayne on this one, as I’m sure will just about everyone else.
As fate would have it (read: what the public wants to hear this year) there are actually two T.I. cuts on D3. “Still I Stand” becomes “Still I Rise” and Lil Wayne gives up the whole shebang (including the Auto-Tune) to some girl named Nicki Minaj who decries her many haters while Maya Angelou sits somewhere weeping. Seriously, I invest a LOT of time in hip hop and I have never even heard of her. But Minaj is convinced that the entire world is accusing her of all sorts of atrocities like being a lesbian, being Chinese, and performing fellatio on Lil Wayne. I’ve got twenty bucks on at least one of these being true.
The album’s only saving grace is Wayne’s interludes, which may be even funnier than the last go around, particularly when he professes his sexual attraction to Sarah Palin, which somehow segues into some nonsense about her playing the flute.
Elsewhere D3 is not good enough to be listenable and not bad enough to be fun to ridicule. Wayne is either non-existent or boring. DJ Drama yells shit out on every track (he now refers to himself as “Barack O’Drama.) Darren McFadden gets what is certainly his first shout out from any rapper. And not even the most loyal Lil Wayne fan is going to care about any of this a year from now.
The good news is that this is not really a step backwards for Wayne. You can’t say the guy’s slipping when he’s not trying. But D3 gives us a glimpse of Weezy at his worst. Let’s just hope he doesn’t lose interest when it comes to albums that cost us money.
Posted by Mike Denslow at Nov 26, 2008 11:30 PM