This weekend Wayne dropped Dedication 5. It’s not his best work. It’s not Rebirth bad, but really, few things can be. Dedication 5 is serviceable Wayne. He jumps on other people’s beats, spends a lot of time talking about pussy, and uses a bunch of lines he had scribbled in the back of his rhyme book. There’s a remix of “Bugatti” that’s all about eating pussy, which’ll come in handy, if you ever need to make a pre-game cunnilingus playlist. Otherwise, it’s pretty forgettable. However, the release of Dedication 5 presents us with a great opportunity to look back at the Lil Wayne tapes that were actual high points in the career of the self proclaimed “best rapper alive”.
Da Drought 3
Released between Tha Carter II and Tha Carter III, Drought 3 is Wayne functioning at his best mixture or “high as shit non sequiturs” and rappity-rapping. He rips Jay-Z’s “Show Me What You Got”, Beyonce’s “Upgrade U” and teams up with Juelz Santana a couple times, and makes a sweetly, stalkerish song dedicated to Ciara. Double disc version of Drought 3, might be Wayne’s best album.
Dropped between Tha Carter and Tha Carter II, Dedication I is a very hungry Wayne making his case for king of the south, when being king of the south was something that actually mattered. This is him going after King era T.I and Thug Motivation 101 Young Jeezy. His trademark stream of consciousness flow hasn’t developed here yet, which depending on your appetite for shit that doesn’t make strict sense, can be a big plus. Dedication is the mixtape that you’d listen to if you wanted to hear why Jay-Z tried really, really hard to get Lil Wayne on Rockafella.
By the time Dedication 2 came out, Wayne’s stock had jumped dramatically. Tha Carter II had come out and everyone knew Wayne could rap his ass off because of “Fireman” (if you haven’t heard “Fireman” in a while, please revisit, it’s still goddamn amazing). Obviously, the thing for him to do was to grab up every hot beat at the time and completely shit all over them. His version of “Oh I Think They Like Me” made Dem Franchize Boyz obsolete in every way possible. Granted, that’s not a herculean feat, but he repeats the trick a couple times on the mixtape. Dedication 2 can be considered Wayne’s most “conceptual” album/mixtape as well; there’s “Sportscenter” a track made up of women’s tennis samples, “Spitter” where he raps over a chopped Biggie sample while channeling the spirit of Biggie, and finally rips George Bush for Hurricane Katrina over a Ray Charles sample. This is what you do once you’ve crushed the game.
Hottest Nigga Under The Sun
Yes, this mixtape starts with a track from Rebirth. Yes, Rebirth is one of the worst albums of all time. If you, skip the tracks from Rebirth, what you have left is a mixtape full of Wayne tracks where he’s having all the fun in the world rapping like a maniac. There’s tons of non sequitirs, tangents, and flights of fancy from a dude who’s high as a profession. There’s a couple of “too weird for Timberlake” Pharrell productions on here and an early version of “Every Girl” called “Filet Mignon”. There’s a few too many guest spots on here and the aforementioned “Rebirth” songs, but if post “A Milli” Lil Wayne as a skateboarding, pussy monster Gremlin is your favorite Lil Wayne, this is a pretty slept on collection of Wayne oddities.
Before Lil Wayne went to jail on a gun charge, dude dropped No Ceilings to hold the streets over until his eventual release. It’s probably the last album or mixtape he put out in his prime. It’s classic beat jacking, with Wayne’s fully developed “I love drugs and surrealism” flow. He takes “Swag Surfin”, “Ice Cream (Paint Job)”, “Wasted”, “Throw It In The Bag”, and transforms them into songs that totally overshadow the originals. There’s also “Single” an original track, that manages to be emotive, funny, and mean spirited at the same. At the time this was released, the streets were convinced Wayne would go to jail riding this lyrical high and come out with a classic album. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. At least we got No Ceilings as a bookend to Wayne’s run as “best rapper alive”.