Lil Wayne is a LEGENDARY rapper from New Orleans, Louisiana who was signed to Cash Money Records at the very age of 9. He then got started as 1/2 of The B.G.’z, 1/4 of the Hot Boy$ & 1/6 of the Cash Money Millionaires. His first 3 solo albums Tha Block is Hot, Lights Out & 500 Degreez were average at best but we then found him improving in the mid 2000’s with Tha Carter, Tha Cater II, Dedication, Dedication 2, Da Drought 3 & my personal favorite Tha Carter III. He then started his own label Young Money Entertainment & followed his magnum opus up with a God awful “rock” album Rebirth along with the mediocre I Am Not a Human Being. He was able to bounce back in 2011 with Tha Carter IV, but things looked rough once again with the horrendous I Am Not a Human Being II in 2013 & the legal issues that’s been tangled in with Cash Money for the past 4 years. But now that he’s free from Birdman, he’s finally delivering his long-awaited 12th full-length album to celebrate being the sole owner of Young Money.
After the 2 minute spoken word intro, we go into the first song “Don’t Cry”. Here, Weezy talks about the afterlife over an atmospheric beat & the posthumous XXXTENTACION vocals on the hook don’t sound that bad at all. The track “Dedicate” is about his influence on today’s hip hop landscape over a trap beat with some plinky keys & the sampling of the 2 Chainz song with the same name as the hook was pretty cool. The song “Uproar” is filled with clever battle bars & while I kinda feel like Swizz Beatz’ heavily sampling of the classic G. Dep song “Special Delivery” was too much, it does do it’s job. The track “Let It Fly” with Travis Scott is a modern day club banger with a moody beat with both parties complimenting each other very well while the song “Can’t Be Broken” is a middle finger to his haters over a piano & a BEAUTIFUL vocal sample.
The track “Dark Side of the Moon” is a romance anthem over a moody beat that works pretty well & I actually find Nicki Minaj’s singing throughout the 2nd half to be pretty empowering. The song “Mona Lisa” is about unfaithful women over an atmospheric beat & the Kendrick Lamar verse really makes it hard to decide who outrapped who. Especially with lines like “They started French kissing so he didn’t see moi” as well as that one about waking up to The Great Gatsby & then dogging it like Lassie. The track “What About Me” is a dedication to his ride or die chick over a decent moody trap beat & even the Sosamann verse doesn’t really do much for me personally. The perfectly-titled “Open Letter” is Wayne venting to the listener over a spacey beat with punchy drums while the song “Famous” is a piano ballad reflecting on the Lil Wayne’s feelings of fame & the hook from his daughter Reginae Carter worked out much better than I had anticipated.
The song “Problems” talks about the issues he’s having with this woman over a bass-heavy Zaytoven instrumental while the song “Dope Niggaz” talks about growing up in the streets over a banger beat that constantly from that I to a killer sample of the classic Dr. Dre track “Xxplosive”. The Snoop Dogg hook is charismatic too, but I really wish he had verse. The track “Hittas” talks about having shooters over a chilling vocal sample & the song “Took His Time” picks up where the previous joint left off albeit in a more introspective fashion over a trap beat with some piano chords & harmonious background vocals.
The track “Open Safe” sees Weezy flexing & it’s not bad, but the DJ Mustard instrumental sounds like any other instrumental that you’d hear from the guy. The song “Start This Shit Off Right” sounds like a vintage Early 2000’s club banger down to the Mannie Fresh instrumental & the Ashanti hook while the track “Demon” vents about all the demons in his life over a soulful trap beat from Cool & Dre. The track “Mess” is pretty much A Day in the Life of Lil Wayne over an spacey acoustic trap instrumental that’s very pretty while the song “Dope New Gospel” sees talking to himself in a mirror over a celebratory trap beat & the hook from Wayne’s ex-fiancé Nivea is beautiful.
The track “Perfect Strangers” is about switching women over an a trap beat from Mannie Fresh with somber piano chords while the song “Used 2” talks about his evolution over a spacey beat from non other than Metro Boomin’. The album ends beautifully with “Let It All Work Out”, which has a prominent Sampha sample throughout. Also, the final verse where Wayne recalls a suicide attempt at age 12 is damn-near heart-wrenching.
It’s been a long time coming but at the end, this was a strong return to form for Lil Wayne. I was a bit worried given that we’ve had many disappointing 20+ track albums this year, but the production is his best in years & Wayne himself has A LOT to say throughout it’s 87 minute runtime. It’s very remarkable & refreshing to hear him at his strongest in years after he went through so much. Welcome back, Weezy!