Lil Wayne - Rebirth
(Wednesday February 10, 2010 12:48 PM
Released on 08/02/10
The continual delay of Lil Wayne's seventh album from April last year threatened to make it something of a 'Chinese Democracy' of rap, as Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr sought to perfect his rock album. Finally out, 'Rebirth' is more stillbirth from one of the most talked-about rappers (deservedly so or otherwise) of recent years. And, yes, the 'Chinese Democracy' comparisons don't just stop with oh-come-off-it delays; Universal seem to have quite the indulgence threshold when it comes to their bigger names working obsessively for diminished returns.
We're pretty sure that the first words Wayne yells on 'Rebirth' are "Musical Police", as if calling your attention to some mind-blowing sonic emergency - like having funk so illegal you think you need a lawyer. As opener 'American Star' continues, though, it becomes pretty clear that the Quality Control, Ego and perhaps even Thought Police should have been on the speed dial when Lil Wayne first made overtures towards heading into the studio with a rap-metal crossover in mind.
Seriously, there are shades of 'Chinese Democracy' - not just in terms of misguided indulgence, but in the impact-less mixing, aimless song structures laden with guitars and synth overdubs, and Wayne's declaration: "Listen to my own voice in my black Rolls Royce." That just seems to be the problem; like Axl, Wayne is clearly surrounded by Yes Men willing to just nod their head to some vaguely '80s metal-sounding guff and proclaim it worthy of inflicting upon the wider public.
Fact is, hip-hop at its best and hardest-edged has always had more in common with punk than it has funk or disco. Those were just its tools, not its raison d'�tre. And when Public Enemy teamed up with Anthrax for 'Bring The Noise', it was far more scorched-earth than when the likes of N*E*R*D decided they could rock just because they could play guitars.
Herein lays Wayne's problem: he clearly has no understanding of rock. A wholesale sample of Amy Holland's 1983 cut 'She's On Fire' backs Wayne's own 'On Fire', a song - get this - inspired by 'Scarface', the vehicle which allowed Holland's recording to become such a hit in the first place. It's just such a lack of imagination that also gives us aimless finger-tapping and high school broken heart narratives recalling Maroon 5 rather than The Big Four Of Thrash.
Eminem pops up to drop the best verse of the lot on 'Drop The World', a minor saving grace on an album from a man who, known for his dice iconography, has definitely made one throw too many.
by Jason Draper
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