Lil Wayne Lil WayneI Am Not A Human Being
In his 2008 novel “Running”, French writer Jean Echenoz tells the story of Czech runner Emil Zátopek, a real running prodigy: indisputable winner, almost excessively so, who ran all the races the communist authorities of his country allowed him to; the only athlete who ever won the gold metal during the same Olympic Games on the 5,000, 10,000 meters and the marathon, an inspiration tor all the wannabe record men of the past 40 years, and a fascinating personality who broke the routine of a communist regime with an astonishing ability for suffering and training, way beyond anything anyone had ever shown before in history. But apart from that, one of his most distinguished characteristics of his personality as described in the book is his sense of decline. Zátopek waited just about a year to retire, when he already knew that his body wasn’t functioning as it used to and he saw clearly that instead of competing without the option of winning, he’d better quit.
Maybe that attitude is what distinguishes the champion from the rest. When somebody is used to winning, it’s very difficult to accept defeat, even more so in the form of retirement. The Czech hardly hesitated in that aspect and preferred not to soil his reputation. So goodnight and good luck. Rapper Lil Wayne could take note of this biography. It doesn’t have to be literal, I mean he doesn’t need to retire, but he could think deeply about the state he’s been in for the last three years. Since the release of that spectacular “Tha Carter III” it’s like the founder of Young Money had collapsed, as if he were tired of himself. He doesn’t get anything right. Personal affairs aside, like his legal issues, his stay in prison and his drug addiction, his recent musical trajectory is one big calamity.
The Young Money supergroup project happened the way it did, with a coming-out that provoked mockery and public ridicule. “Rebirth”, his previous album, that terrible attempt at the fusion of rock and rap, is easily one of the worst pieces of music released this year. And this, “I Am Not A Human Being”, originally an advance EP of his “Tha Carter IV” that ended up as an album without anyone really knowing why, without reaching the catastrophic soundbites of it’s predecessor, is not even close to the return to the hip-hop we expected from him, of which he was the big cheese until not so long ago, an MC possessed by the demon of talent and the ubiquity that appeared everywhere and almost always with great results. The main problem of his new album is the feeling of total repetition of ideas, resources and old tricks. Ad nauseam, and with results that are pretty inferior compared to our expectations.
In fact, if someone were to tell us that “I Am Not A Human Being” was made from leftovers and rejected material from “Tha Carter III”, we would believe them immediately. That’s the impression these songs give: same old, same old. And I’m not even talking about the title track, on which the brutal and primitive use of a rock guitar makes us think that it escaped from the final selection of “Rebirth”. But in general we hear a Wayne at half throttle, with hardly brilliant, inspired or elaborated lyrics (take your pick), and in some way very monothematic, musically, while one of the secrets of his “Tha Carter” trilogy is the way he worked and gave full meaning to a sonic and almost geographic eclecticism within his own discourse. Trainwreck, you ask? Not entirely. There are some positive aspects that deserve the spotlight.
One of the reasons this record gets a C+ is Wayne’s total and definitive symbiosis with his brightest student, Drake. The Canadian appears on four of the ten tracks on the album. And on every one of them the listener can note two things: the first is that Wayne now sounds more like Drake than vice versa, as if the had switched seats and now the student is the point of reference; the second is that the more sophisticated, intimate and light discourse doesn’t cause any damage to his status - quite the contrary. In fact, the two best moments on the album, “I’m Single” and “Without You”, would fit that category, now much more consistent and attractive for his career than that almost troglodyte attempt to make a rock-crossover, or than the already way past its sell-by date obsession with the auto-tune. And last but not least, we must not forget the other obvious things: in spite of his bad shape, Lil Wayne still knows how to make hits, hence “What’s Wrong With Them”, featuring the omnipresent Nicki Minaj, to make it clear even to the haters that you should never count out Weezy. He can always come back. In fact, I have a hunch that he will.