Rapper Lil Wayne worked nonstop in his waning weeks of freedom to put the finishing touches on his latest album, I Am Not a Human Being
, before being sent off to prison earlier in March. The resulting full-length is a fragmented arrangement of tracks plucked blindly from a jar of Weezy's favorite subjects: money, p*ssy, weed, and yeah, even love. Stylistically the album is a mess, lacking the consistent, fine-tuned production of The Carter
albums, or the luxury of rhyming over other rappers' beats that made mixtapes like Da Drought III
or No Ceilings
definitive flexes of Weezy's off-the-cuff genius. No, I Am Not a Human Being
isn't Weezy's best — not even close — but like a message in a bottle it serves a preemptive purpose. It not only reminds us of how much Wayne's been missed, but that even at his most forgettable he's still better than 90 percent of the other rappers out there.
The range of topical material here is diverse, and takes full advantage of Drake's 2010 ascension to the big leagues (the Young Money protégé sings or raps on 4 out of 10 tracks). "Gonorrhea" opens as a reminder of Wayne's singular obsession with pop culture as well as his propensity for over-the-top vulgarity: "Yeah, you boys is washed up / and, I'm sh*ttin' on 'em / two girls / one cup." Streetrunner produced "With You" samples the soulful "oohs" of Motown veteran Valerie Simpson — with Drake and Weezy crooning about love — inflecting the track with an easy, oozing ebb that makes it the album's strongest standout.
The title track, "I Am a Human Being" sounds like a nu-metal B-side from Weezy's ill-fated rock album Rebirth
, which wasn't as much an exercise in laying down rock tracks as it was rock tracks laid down in bad taste. "Right Above It" again features a verse from Drizzy, with a soaring chorus over violins — because nothing says gangster sh*t like violins — that lifts some nimbler-than-usual wordplay from the two, however straightforward.
The rest of the album is forgettable (although the experimental, syrupy production of "I'm Single" is interesting in a murky way; Wayne's verses are not), making I Am Not a Human Being
feel more like a mixtape than an album. Weezy usually has a good pulse on what the people want; here, he had to largely guess and put it in a time capsule. If anything I Am Not a Human Being
is just the tip of the iceberg, with bigger and better things yet to come.
Namely, The Carter IV
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Lil Wayne on Myspace