Lil Wayne “I Am Not a Human Being” Review
Published in Blog Archive, Culture Bully. Tags: Album Reviews, Music.
Despite being held up at Rikers Island Correctional Facility for a large chunk of 2010 Lil Wayne has somehow still proven to be not only one of the most prolific artists alive, but one of the most skilled. Not to overlook the wave of videos which were unleashed earlier this year in support of his rock-inspired Rebirth, but in releasing his eighth proper studio album Weezy’s not only ensuring that he’s not forgotten while out of the public eye, but that he’ll once again be up for consideration when outlets begin dolling out honors for the best records of 2010.
Cut before Lil Wayne was incarcerated, I Am Not a Human Being was originally scheduled to be released as an EP rather than a full-length, but to be fair, when considering the man’s propensity to write and record music, 10 songs still seems a little on the lean side. One thing that hasn’t been culled back for the release is the quantity of solid collaborations, however, as a solid cast of Young Money regulars make appearances all throughout the record. Whether it be Jay Sean working with a solid beat while backing up Wayne for “That Ain’t Me,” Lil Twist dropping a solid hook with “Popular,” or Nicki Minaj doing her best Rihanna with “What’s Wrong With Them,” each guest appearance does well in adding a unique feeling to their respective song. T-Streets’ raw cameo in “Hold Up” might be most out of place when considering the overall sound to the record though; a sound which can be summed up with a single word: Drake. Working as a duo on four of the record’s tracks, Wayne and Drizzy further showcase their chemistry with the soulful “With You” and the relaxed “I’m Single,” while they both roll out solid verses in “Gonorrhea” and “Right Above It;” the latter of which reveals one of Drake’s strongest lyrical contributions on the record, in all of its flossin’ glory, “I got a couple cars I never get to use, don’t like my women single: I like my chicks in twos.” But even with the stellar production and strong collaborations that enrich throughout, as with each of his past records, there is no question that the focus here is aimed directly at Weezy.
It has long since become a standard to expect a lot in terms of lyrical content when approaching Lil Wayne’s music, and with I Am Not a Human Being the man does not disappoint. What shines through is Wayne’s lyrical aptitude, his sense of humor, and his approach to romance; three things which need to be emphasized after his lackluster stab at “writing songs” with Rebirth. And for fans who were waiting patiently for Wayne to return to form, I Am Not a Human Being is just that—actually the album is a bit problematic in that it’s slightly overwhelming in terms of the quantity of bars that the MC lays down. Concerning his philosophical stonerisms, Weezy’s on point, dropping a seemingly endless string of quality lines: “Sanity kills, so I live the crazy life” (“What’s Wrong With Them”), “Ride on you like Shaun White, I’m high all day, call that shit a long flight” (“Bill Gates”), “Life is a beach, I’m just playin’ in the sand” (“Right Above It”). At the same time his tongue never seems to leave his cheek, “ Rockabye baby, homicide baby/That’s more tear drops, call me crybaby” (“Gonorrhea”), “Just checked my watch and that bitch said sometimes” (“Hold Up”), “Yall’s a buncha squares like a mother fuckin’ grid” (“I Am Not A Human Being”). He even finds time to work in commentary on one of the decade’s most destructive disasters, “Trust that flow on my innertube, when they turn my city into a swimming pool/Before that it was a living cesspool” (“That Ain’t Me”). But—as if it weren’t already implied with Drake’s heavy influence on the record—the main theme that runs throughout the album is, well, sex.
It’s hard to defend a sexist attitude, on any level, but it’s also difficult to not appreciate the witty approach Lil Wayne takes to lyrically seducing women. Whether it be explaining his game plan, as he does with “I’m Single” (“Swimming trunks and bathing suits, then go hit the bedroom and tell the naked truth”) and “With You” (“Tall glass of Merlot get her in the mood/Two tall glasses of Merlot get her out her robe”), or simply sounding genuinely romantic (something he does well with “Popular”: “Don’t need another one when we got one another”), the man continues to lend evidence supporting his claim as being (one of) the best in the rap game. Hell, the guy can even make knuckleheaded rhymes sound sensual, “Damn you the shit/And I would rip my heart out and hand you the shit/And I don’t really know how to handle the shit/But tonight it’s moonlight and candles and shit” (“With You”).
I Am Not a Human Being is essentially being released as the precursor to Weezy’s forthcoming album Tha Carter IV. But more important than that—even more important than keeping Lil Wayne in the public eye—the album does well to wash away the bitter aftertaste of Rebirth. Even if you enjoyed the record, arguing that it was up to Weezy’s usual standards is an uphill battle if there ever was one. Not only do tracks like “I Am Not a Human Being” rejuvenate the idea that Wayne might actually be able to work well amongst a backdrop of guitars again, but the bulk of the album reminds us how fantastic a lyricist he can be. The stage is now set for what might be Lil Wayne’s biggest album to date, and if I Am Not a Human Being is any indication: Tha Carter‘s next installment is going to be a classic.
[This post was first published by Culture Bully.]