This week, Lil Wayne’s latest album The Carter 4 was released to the world. Critics widely criticized the concept, sound, and overall record. They called it a rehash of his old ideas, and a far less superior take on Wayne’s style. There are many people who would blame the hip-hop genre in general for its failure to push aside an act like Wayne, but those naysayers also fail to realize that hip-hop is not to blame. It’s the “Shooter” hit-makers fault for not looking to the past for inspiration. What many fail to realize is that they’re so many other hip-hop artists who’ve broken the mold. It’s about time that Lil Wayne get’s with the program. Sure, his previous release Rebirth shattered all expectations by blending rock and rap, but it was extremely unsuccessful. Maybe looking to other artists for inspiration would be beneficial?
During this installment of Weekend Download Recommendations, I’m going to suggest a list of songs and albums for Lil Wayne to consider listening before his next trip into the studio. Consider this my recommendations to him; because we love Wayne, and we know he could do so much better with the right direction. Instead of rapping about nonsense, maybe he should take the route of Public Enemy and rap about politics, or spit pseudo intellectual game like Del the Funky Homosapien. If that doesn’t help the Carter, then maybe Kanye West could share his dark and twisted fantasy with him. Lil Wayne, here are my recommendations for your improvement as an artist.
Jay-Z - “99 Problems”
Jay-Z’s most famous song is “99 Problems” and there’s a big reason behind its popularity. For one thing, it’s because of his unique blend of darker lyricism, and for Hov’s natural ability to write, but most of all it’s the powerful essence that this song brings the listener. Jay-Z proves that he can bust a rhyme that’s meaner, leaner, and louder than any other hip-hop artist to date. The rapper deals with issues of living in the ghetto, Brooklyn life and not letting “bitches” become his 100th problem. If there is anything that the New Yorker proves to his audience, it's that he’s a force to be reckoned with and nobody should cross paths with him. If only Lil Wayne could learn from this. He spends so much time making himself out to be a strong suited person, when in all reality he’s as much of a gangster as Flavor Flav. If the Carter wanted to channel stronger adjectives and heavier lyrics, then maybe he should listen to “99 Problems.”
N.W.A. - “Fuck Tha Police”
N.W.A. is a gangster rap outfit that changed the sub-genre forever. Their music was an important part of the evolution from Run-DMC type beats to Wu-Tang Clan’s heavier sounds. “Fuck tha police” is also a byproduct of their group, and due to its unbridled success, their trademark quote is known worldwide. Even if you haven’t heard of the band; the quote is probably embedded in your brain. From the highly televised incident with the FBI and secret service, where they sent a letter to Ruthless records informing them to pull the song, to when the group was banned from performing at several venues, it's busted the songs popularity. Like any bad press, this helped them gain even more attention. "Fuck Tha Police" proves that their style for rapping about killing cops, and other obscene acts of violence, can be revolutionary too. You just have to have the talent that’s necessary, to truly make a mark on pop culture. Lil Wayne could learn a thing or two from Eazy-E, Ice Cube, and Dr. Dre.
Del the Funky Homosapien - “BM’s”
The smooth voice of Del is like a late show radio host who takes his audience through a nightly journey. His crisp tenor and equally mellow sound drones you out into a haze that only the Funky Homosapien could achieve. “BM’s” is a song that caters to the pot smoker in us. It has an ethereal sound that shots the audience into a world of pot smoking and getting crunk. You see, Del rap’s about smoking weed and getting drunk, just like our “You Ain't Got Nuthin” hit-maker. The only thing that differs between Wayne and Del’s music is the fact that the Funky Homosapien actually provides his listener’s with a digestible sound that accompanies his lyrics. If only the Carter took more musical chances like the “BM’s" hit-maker, then maybe he would not have got stuck in the lull he put himself into.
The Black Keys And Various Artists Blakroc
The Black Keys had it right with Blakroc. It’s the pinnacle rap collaboration of our generation because it breaks so many standards from the blues and rap genre. It’s never been done before, so one can only assume that nobody else could pull it off, yet The Black Keys do. Blakroc is not only a masterpiece that hasn’t been attempted before, but it’s also a statement to other artists in the music industry; that innovation is the key to success. RZA, Ludacris, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Mos Def and Noe rap over the soulful blues rock from the Black Keys, but it’s the production of Damon Dash, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney that takes the reins of this innovative effort. Do you think ten years ago that anybody would’ve thought a group like the Keys would create a work of art with hip-hops heavyweights? Nope, and that’s why Wayne; you need to follow suit. Again, breaking the mold and innovation is the key to success.
Public Enemy - It Takes A Million to Hold Us Back
Oh yes, who could forget about Public Enemy? Obviously Lil Wayne… Taking note from Gil Scott-Heron, the New York natives were known for their socially charged lyrics and topics on black empowerment, government, the middle class, life in a segregated society and “the man.” The Chuck D lead group pursued a course not often taken in 1980’s hip-hop, and instead of slightly delving into these issues, they bum rushed it head first. Even though their style deviated from most hip-hop artists of that time, their unique style influenced a plethora of artists after them. Most of that inspiration came from It Takes A Million to Hold Us Back, which was their defining record that brought skepticism towards otherwise “normal” practices.
Songs like “Bring the Noise,” “Don't Believe the Hype” and “Rebel without a Pause” brought a voice, style, and grace to an overlooked population of people that once had no voice. Mr. Carter could learn from Public Enemy. Because of their meaningful messages and thought provoking contemplation which inspired a whole generation of peaceful protestors, Public Enemy were on the level of auteur. And if Flavor Flav can reach that level of artistic credibility, then Wayne can too.
Kanye West -My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Like The Black Keys who evolved the rules, and Public Enemy, who changed the game before everyone else; Kanye West perfected the sport and took the position as MVP ten years in a row. Yeezy may not have stolen the show with his latest collaborative effort with Jay-Z, Watch The Throne, but it’s his previous album that earns his spot as a most valuable player. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is an album that brought a revolutionary style of production to rap albums. Like Public Enemy, the record spreads its wings in territory that’s not often discussed by other hip-hop artists. West takes an elaborate chance, and succeeds by touching on issues of excess and celebrity, which includes decadence, grandiosity, escapism, sex, self-doubt, wealth, romance and self-aggrandizement, in his music.
Lil Wayne could learn from Kanye. It’s proven that his previous work won’t do anymore, so maybe it’s time to change? Maybe rapping about issues that Kanye and Chuck D talke about could help the artist find new ground? Not only is My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy a triumph in hip-hop, but it also proves that fans will also love hip-hop that transcends the informal lyrics and beats for an ‘artier” effort. Take note, Mr. Carter.
Outkast “Hey Ya”
When all else fails, Lil Wayne, your best bet is to throw away the rapping game for something a bit more, let’s say, mainstream. Like good ol’ fashion singing. Unlike your talents in hip-hop, Andre 3000 has proved time and time again that he’s a master at wooing the ladies, being super fly, and singing like a true superstar. Maybe you need to be super fly?