Overrated or Understated?
Before I go in on this topic… let me state for the record I do not listen to Lil Wayne‘s music, I didn’t look for The Carter III leak 2 weeks before the retail release date, I couldn’t name 2 songs off of The Carter II and know Wayne best from the song “Bling Bling” which came out when the bulk of Weezy’s current fan base was a wee 10 years old.
The first rule of proving a point is to validate why your qualified to speak on such a point and, to the untrained eye, I seemingly disqualified myself for my lack of extensive Weezy knowledge. Let me say.. it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the obvious.. and hereeee we go.
First off… I knew of Wayne from his Hot Boy (pause) days and they barely blipped on my Hip Hop radar. Being from NYC we had no shortage of quality rap to listen to… so if some other region was making noise and that shit wasn’t the absolute truth, it didn’t matter. Yes.. those days are far gone, however, one day I was in the Virgin Megastore at Union Sq. in Manhattan and I saw the new Flex on display: The Tunnel… In NYC The Tunnel was the most gully spot you could ever hit up, so I gravitated towards the CD and pressed play. Eventually I get to a track called “Respect” featuring the Hot Boys… I give it a listen and to my surprise Lil Wayne, before he went by Weezy, Young Money and all that other bullshit, actually ripped it. I said this muthafucka just separated himself from the pack.
As the story goes, NY fell off – the hows and whys of this happening is up to debate and meant for a later discussion/post – and the south gained prominence… again… later discussion and post. The last beacon of light at the time was Hov… Yea 50 sold crazy, but Hov was widely considered the greatest rapper alive and Lil Wayne’s fanboy status regarding Jay-z was pretty well known. So once Jiggaman decided 8 summers was enough and “Retired”, Lil Wayne made the statement, “I’m the greatest rapper alive, since the greatest rapper retired”, which managed to show respect to Jay, but also declared in a display of Bravado and dare say I, ‘swag’ Weezy’s designs on the Hip Hop throne. To me, at the time, this was more of a WTF moment. I mean who the fuck does weezy think he is. Nas anyone? Snoop perhaps… The point is, depending upon your regional preference you could have argued 10 or more names to be considered the active best rapper.
All the media outlets who wanted to have the same exclusive everyone else would have jumped on that quote like vultures on a carcass and the Hip Hop masses ate it up. A few speculated a Hov retaliation out of retirement, while others called bullshit… at least in NY. I speak for the rest of the country at that point, but one thing I can say is NY Hip Hop was so full of its own shit that we simply held on to the memories of the days of yore while the south rose.
Quantity over Quality
I can’t pretend to understand the standards these young bastards hold their music to today. I actually tried to have a convo with some 18 year old kid who swore that Wayne was the illest to ever do it. I said, “what?? Please give me a reason as to why you think this bullshit.” He went on to recite this quote as proof..
“I’m a venereal disease like a menstrual I bleed”
And that’s all he said. My response was, “WTF”. To which he replied “nah, what he is trying to say is he’s sick.” I had to laugh at this lil fuck. I mean my Hip Hop ears were forged in the efforts needed to decipher everyone from Nas to Jay to Pun and Canibus. Complex lyrics were a joy to listen to and analyze… This asinine shit was not. We continued for a few minutes until I realized: I’m out of touch. So I gave the source of that quote a listen. A Millie, which has been remixed 4.7 billion times at the time of this writing, and the shit was just a cacophony of harsh sounds and gibberish with some sense made here n there. All of the sudden I felt like Grandad from The Boondocks and I was surrounded by a gang of Rileys.
The thing about Wayne is he seems to be everywhere at once. Having gone from cameo’s on songs with the likes of Juelz Santana to collaborations with Enrique Iglesias Lil Wayne went from a Mogwai that was fed after midnight to a pop icon. I continued to be baffled. It’s like people started buying into this Greatest Rapper shit because they constantly saw him.
The fact of the matter is while Weezy can have flashes of being a capable to brilliant Emcee, the vast quantity of gibberish deducts from his overall status. I mean shit, look what it did to Cam. And yet, in a playing field where the sliding scale is more Soulja Boy than Joell Ortiz, Maybe… Just Maybe Lil Wayne has found that fine line to walk to be considered a fuckin’ legend.
“Today is a gift that’s why they call it the present.”
I mean, how can he get props for sayin’ some shit that kids typically say to show they are witty. What’s next:
“Turn that frown Upside Down”
“The grass is always greener on the other side”
–Lil Wayne, some time in the future, maybe.
I know Nas said No Idea’s Original but SHIT. The average rap fan is unfamiliar with the touching and indepth street tales that were woven for me throughout my youth. From I Gave You Power to Somebody’s Got To Die to Me and My Girlfriend to NY State of Mind part 2 to Body In The Trunk to D rugs to so on and so forth. And even the more recent feats of excelling penmanship such as Three Sides To a Story, are overshadowed by the nonsensical songs with a hot beat and bullshit video.. perhaps it is they who are out of touch and not I. However the same can be said of my era regarding the era before. Again this is a generalization, but it’s all cyclical now.
At the end of the day I don’t fuck with Lil Wayne, but I can understand why he has the movement that he has. Looking at his ascension objectively, you could argue that Lil Wayne, if he keeps his level of relevance, or something comparable to it, might be considered the greatest rapper of all time. Of course that would require Jay-Z to actively fall back from music (Part of me wonders if the fickle nature of young rap fans drives Jay to try and remain relevant).
Heavy is the head that wears the crown, but time makes fools of us all.