Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.
Lil Wayne is 41 years old and he just dropped his 29th mixtape, “The Fix Before Tha VI,” as an amuse bouche ahead of the release of his 14th studio album, “The Carter VI.” Weezy is putting out a ton of great work at an advanced age for an M.C., and he still raps like his life is an endless party. I mean, the man is creating so much that he must be basically living in the studio. And yet his rhymes paint a picture of a man-child who’s in permanent party mode. Or perhaps a better word is “kidult,” as in an adult who has lots of childlike energy.
Wayne’s music is about sex, guns, drugs, his money, his music, his greatness and his wild life. It sounds like an ongoing bacchanal. His lyrics say “Every night’s a long night, every day’s a holiday,” but his output says “I am not a human being.”
On “The Fix Before Tha VI,” Wayne has a song where the chorus is him just yelling a word for women’s mammary glands over and over like a kid obsessed with them. If there was ever a grown man who was still a child, it’s Wayne. He’s like Peter Pan — a boy in the midst of a neverending childhood.
When I think about Wayne, the first word that comes to mind is relentless. He seems to assault the beat with his flow like he’s attacking the song. With his sonic aggression, his witty rhymes, his liquid flow and his croak of a voice, no matter how hot the beat is, he’s going to dominate the song. There’s an audacity to Wayne as well as a sense of humor that’s so deeply engaging.
There are some great verses from Wayne on this mixtape, especially “Slip,” “To The Bank” and “Good Morning.” Eminem has already let it slip that he loves one of Wayne’s lines on “The Fix” so much that he wishes he had thought of it, but for many people, the line that will jump out most sharply — and be the most polarizing — may be on “Tuxedo” where on the chorus he says “Came home from jail, they was tryna send me back / I just called my [n-word] Donald Trump and that was that.” We already knew that Trump pardoned Wayne in 2021, saving him from going back to prison on a gun possession charge. So I understand what Wayne’s saying. It’s not a bad line — it’s purposely provocative because calling Trump, that racist cretin, “my n-word,” is jarring. “My n-word” can be high praise for another man’s character. It can mean, in effect, I love him, he’s my people. Now if someone helps me stay out of prison, I’ll probably love them unconditionally, but damn, calling Trump “my n-word” is triggering. He’s no one’s n-word.
Whenever I get a new Wayne project, I’m looking for that monster high-energy hit where the beat is banging, Weezy’s spitting crazy lines and the flow is right in the pocket. He’s made a lot of monster hits — “A Milli,” “Stuntin’ Like My Daddy,” “Got Money” — and songs that are perfect to work out to or get you psyched up for the big game — “Surf Swag,” “Let the Beat Build,” “Bill Gates,” and, again, “A Milli.” He has the ability to make a classic every time he steps into the booth. Of course, no one makes classics all the time, and I don’t hear anything on “The Fix” that I think the culture will want to hear on heavy repeat over the next few months. I don’t think there’s a monster hit on here. But I think we see, yet again, that Wayne has a great voice and an extraordinary sense of flow, and he creates lyrics that are witty and funny and complex. Sometimes his lines are unforgettable. He does everything a great MC does.
I think the list of the top 5 MCs is hallowed ground. Jay-Z, Nas, Kendrick, Andre 3000 and Rakim have had such amazing careers and put out so many unforgettable records that it’s hard for anyone to compete. But if Lil Wayne isn’t in your all-time top 10, you might need to check your math, because he absolutely should be. He gives you longevity, complexity, witticisms, flows — he’s a musical monster who writes without a pen and can’t be overshadowed by any beat. He is the total package and one of the greatest MCs of all time.
Touré is a host and Creative Director at theGrio. He is the host of Masters of the Game on theGrioTV. He is also the host and creator of the docuseries podcast “Being Black: The ’80s” and the animated show “Star Stories with Toure” which you can find at TheGrio.com/starstories. He is also the host of the podcast “Toure Show” and the podcast docuseries “Who Was Prince?” He is the author of eight books including the Prince biography Nothing Compares 2 U and the ebook The Ivy League Counterfeiter.
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