Thursday, February 11, 2010

Rebirth - Lil Wayne

Overall: 17/40

Sound: 3
Creativity: 6
Approachability: 4

After the success of Tha Carter III in 2008, Lil Wayne has had a plethora of opportunities thrown his way. In 2009 he released We Are Young Money, No Ceilings, was featured on over 56 different songs, appeared in 13 videos, oh and pleaded guilty on a weapons charge (penalized by a year in prison, ouch). Somewhere amidst the hustle and bustle of a 27 year old rap mogul he found time to record, and in February of 2010, Lil Wayne released his seventh studio album Rebirth. The album is a diversion from the Wayne's six hip-hop albums, and is the artists first attempt at making a "rock" album. 

Every once in a while an artist wants to redefine themselves. Justin Timberlake did it by going solo, Beyonce left Destiny's Child, Prince made his name a symbol, The Beatles put out Rubber Soul. Some artists redefine themselves and their music and wind up stretching the boundaries of their genre. I'd like to believe this was what Lil Wayne attempted to do when the developing the concept behind Rebirth. I respect that he gave it a shot, rock is a really popular genre and would really expand his fanbase. He is one of the most influential and sought after artists in hip-hop, and has been a leading man in the growth of southern hip hop. With a net-worth of around 75 million dollars, lets suffice it to say he's done well in the rap game. When you have that kind of money to fall back on, it's hard to think that you can fail, as Wayne says in Runnin - "if i fall, I fall up and let the clouds hug me/ And if I fall down, I bet I hit the ground runnin'". Well Weezy, you fell down, started running and then fell flat on your face. This album is not good and its not the 75 million dollar Lil Wayne that put out Tha Carter III. 

The first song on the album American Star highlights this as a rock "themed" album, but Wayne's idea of rock is a grunge 90's guitar chord progession and a few generic distorted guitar solos. Lyrically this isn't the witty, clever, often times crude lyrical content that Wayne is known for, instead we get lines like "Born in raised in the USA where the government's watching, what you do and say" or "My ancestors were slaves in the USA but not today, its alright". Where're you going with this Weezy? It's not that lovable inspired cocky lyrical content that has made him famous. 

Prom Queen, the second track on the album, was Rebirth's first single and peaked at 15 on the Billboard chart. Listening to the song its easy to understand why the album dropped from the Billboard top 100 like a rock. This song is the antithesis to everything that has ever been Lil Wayne. It is a whiny teenage angst song and these lyrics don't coincide with the image that Wayne has built up for himself. Take a look:

"But see, she had other plans I couldn't understand
Her and her stupid friends, varsity's biggest fans
Never'll forget the day she laughed and walked away
And I couldn't stop her, I guess she had it all

She had it all figured out
But she left me with a broken heart
Fucked around and turned me down
'Cause she didn't think I could play the part"

I'll admit it, I went through a pop-emo phase, and from time to time I'll pop in Take This to Your Grave and sing my lungs out to Grand Theft Autumn. When setting out to change genres Lil Wayne sought out the masters of teen pop-rock and preteen angst, Fall Out Boy. The collaboration with the king pins of melodramatic music is exemplified on tracks like Prom Queen and Paradice. Other songs such as Da Da Da and Get a Life sound like Black Eyed Peas rejects. At one point amongst the auto-tuned and distorted lyrics in Da Da Da, Wayne proclaims "I know you want me, that funky monkey". Really Weezy? Really?

Starting with On Fire there is a rebirth within Rebirth. The four songs (this is a 14 track album, 16 tracks on the deluxe version), On Fire, Drop the World, Runnin' and One Way Trip are shadows of what the listener has come to expect from Lil Wayne. Drop The World heavily features Eminem and is more of a hip-hop track as opposed to Lil Wayne's interpretation of rock. This makes the song work more than a lot of the other tracks on the album, but is doomed to be lost amongst the litany of bad tracks on this album. Runnin', which features Shannell, sounds like Evanescence feat Lil Wayne. Take that as you will. One Way Trip is a stark reminder that Lil Wayne messed up this album, after you reach this little nugget of songs and begin to think that maybe this album doesn't deserve all the criticism it has been getting Lil Wayne exclaims out "T. Barker is my mother fucking drummer, Lets go" bringing you back to the reality that he stepped out of his comfort zone, and fell down. The song could work if it weren't for the pre-chorus/chorus of "I'm falling down the landslide/ on a one way trip to you" which features the power chord progressions that are the hallmark of Rebirth. 

It's fitting that Knockout comes right after One Way Trip, Knockout sounds like Blink 182 gone wrong. I have nothing to say about The Price is Wrong. It's terrible. 

This album is approachable if you think Lil Wayne can do no wrong. If the juxtaposition of uninspired hip-hop  and terrible rock music is your cup of tea, rush out to Best Buy and purchase a copy of Rebirth. Rap-rock is a difficult genre to break into, and I applaud Lil Wayne for trying but the album never comes together. In 2004 Mos Def's album The New Danger was released and didn't break into the rap-rock genre, but Mos knew his limits when he tried. Mos exclaimed "I ain't tryin to diss, but I don't try to fuck with Limp Bizket", in an effort to show that his idea of rock wasn't the crap that blares on top 40 stations. Lil Wayne on the other hand didn't care who he emulated on Rebirth and produced an album that sounds like it was inspired by the dregs of rock. Christopher Weingarten said it best in his New York Post review of Rebirth "Wayne's big problem is that he seems to like the idea of rock music more than any actual rock music itself.". 

Favorite Track: Drop the World

The Quick and Dirty: 17/40 An ambitious attempt at a rock album that draws inspiration from some of the most generic bands in the genre. If you're looking for an entirely auto-tuned album with run of the mill music look no further, Rebirth is for you. Weezy is about to serve a year in prison to serve for his gun charge, hopefully during that time he works on ideas for Tha Carter IV, and returns to the rap game triumphant. However if Lil Wayne feels that he needs a rock band, he should invest in a wii. 

Next Review: The Colossus - RJD2

Keep Rocking.

No comments:

Post a Comment