Friday, August 21, 2009

On Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr.

When I was 16, I went on a service trip with a bunch of kids from my high school. We didn't really know each other all that well in the beginning, and so, in the very beginning, there were a few awkward silences. However, without fail, every time they happened, my friend Bill Houston would always look around and say, "Shhhh, Weezy, baby! By the end of the trip, it became the unofficial punchline to just about every joke that was told (that, or yelling the last name of one of the kids on the trip, Jim Shields, as loudly as possible).

We were not brilliant kids.

Anyway, it's been about fourteen months since the release of Tha Carter III, the last album from cough syrup connoisseur Lil Wayne. Since it came out (on my 19th birthday, no less), it's been almost unanimously praised by just about everyone, topping a bunch of best-of lists at the end of 2008. It also won four Grammys, and in a time where album sales are down across the board, it's still managed to sell over three million copies in America alone. Meanwhile, as I've watched this all going on, the only thing that I could ask was, "Well, why?"

The song that I had heard most before was the uber-annoying radio single "Lollipop," which probably wasn't fair, but every time I heard it, I strongly considered punting a baby out a window. After all, it sounded like the song was filtered through a bottle of Robitussin, as opposed to the all-too-popular Autotuner. However, there's no way that literally everyone could have been wrong about this, so eventually, way, way, way later, within the last month or so, I finally downloaded Weezy's last two albums, Tha Carters II and III.

(Note: I know, I didn't get the first one, and that without any "background," I could have been completely lost. I took my chances.)

So, here's the thing: like most hip-hop albums today, both of these are too long (both albums are over 76 minutes long), and though I'll give Weezy some credit for keeping skits to a minimum, both still have ridiculous moments where he just sort of, uhh, goes off on ridiculous tangents. Tha Carter III ends with this ridiculous thing where Weezy just makes fun of Al Sharpton for a while.

But that's nitpicking, I guess I shouldn't hold a grudge against him for something that a lot of rappers do. And after all, there's a lot of good in there. Weezy gets great producers to give great beats, and even though the dude has some ridiculous kind of stream-of-consciousness/ADD/something (he references Stuart Scott, Beetlejuice, Stevie Wonder, Randy Savage, Dennis Rodman, Orville Redenbacher, and the movie Bad Boys in the first three tracks of Carter III), it somehow works for him. The guy is really clever when he isn't sippin' on some sizzurp, or, you know, when he cares at all.

The major problem is that he doesn't always care, and so you get some downright awful stuff sometimes. Ready? "He's a beast, he's a dog, he's a muthafuckin' problem/OK, you're a goon, but what's a goon to a goblin?" I have no idea what it means either.

There's also a track (not on either of these albums) where he rhymes "head and tail" with "head and tail..." about five different times. It's actually kind of embarrassing, so if I can find it, I'll post it. (EDIT: Got it, starting at 1:45. A downright awful verse.) And his delivery, well, is pretty awful overall (short of one brief moment at 2:19 of the aforementioned YouTube clip).

So that, in a nutshell, is Weezy. He's definitely ridiculous (and what in the hell is up with his kind of creepy relationship with that other guy from the Cash Money Millionaires?), but the guy is clever, to be sure, one of the better rappers around now. More often than not, his punchlines are great. The problem is, it's pretty tough to deliver them when you're lounging or out swimming in Purple Drank Pond (located, of course, in Promethazine Park).

Also, I think that Weezy should probably go out an make an album like The Blueprint before he starts referring to himself as the "Mr. Carter." Just saying.

Consume at your own risk. Anyway, enclosed are some Weezy tracks.


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