Seven years after Lil Wayne’s last quality record, Tha Carter III, the hip hop artist is attempting to get his career back on track with his latest release, Free Weezy Album.
Released Saturday and exclusively on Tidal, the album attempts to serve as an apology for the delay of Tha Carter V and as an attack on his former mentor, Cash Money Records CEO Bryan “Birdman” Williams. But the album falls short in key areas, making it a difficult listen.
Wayne’s frustrations with his former wingman is still reaching its peak. Wayne, who left his contract with Cash Money, claims Birdman is suppressing his creativity as an artist by holding back the release of Tha Carter V, the next installment in Wayne’s famous series.
It could be assumed that FWA is about Wayne’s personal conflicts, but, surprisingly, he rarely addresses the issues. Rather, the record is an attempt by Weezy to claw his way back into rap’s cutting edge by resorting to his overused themes and whiny intonation.
In FWA’s second track, “He’s Dead,” Wayne references the “death” of his oppression. Toward the beginning of the song, Wayne raps, “I don’t need flowers around my grave, I need maids and doormen. We not one and the same,” announcing his need for people who want to help him instead of those who bring him down.
In the following bridge, though, Wayne spits, “Them Xans got me walkin’ ’round like a zombie, I just double-parked the hearse by a fire hydrant.” He goes on to drop Kurt Cobain’s name and announces, “Remember me like they remember the titans,” resorting to childish touting of his supposed legacy.
The best part of this record is the production, although, at its best, it’s still a hit-and-miss. Beats by Jake Troth and London on da Track help provide the only two songs on the entire album that engage listeners rather than subject them to boredom — and in the case of “I Feel Good,” near-offensive production.
There are a few songs, such as “Glory,” “He’s Dead” and “Murda,” that could have worked with more refinement of thematic development, better lyrics and an improvement in production, respectively. But these songs have too many pitfalls to be memorable.
By the sixth track of the album, Lil Wayne loses sight of his inspirations and resorts to clichés, flaunting that he’s a ladies man and a drug user while declaring his place amongst legends such as Biggie and Tupac. If the first five tracks had their own EP, this release might have made some sense, but the last 10 songs don’t help Wayne’s cause.
“London Roads” is the only song worth a re-listen on this record; the other songs are either a throwback, forgettable, off-focus or a struggle to get through.
Hip hop is quickly changing as artists such as Kendrick Lamar, Drake and A$AP Rocky lead the way to the genre’s renaissance. If Lil Wayne keeps up his current trend in sustaining dull mediocrity, he’ll be left in the Stone Age.
Album: Free Weezy Album