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Review

Rapper’s attempt at rock fails

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February 11, 2010

For the past decade or so, there have been two distinctly different categories of what critics and fans deem “bad music.” Falling into the first category are songs and albums that make no effort to take themselves seriously. The second category is filled with inevitable disappointments from massively overrated performers decades past their prime, and, worst of all, lazy. Unfortunately, but perhaps not surprisingly, Lil Wayne’s “Rebirth” falls into the latter group.

Although Wayne’s previous LP, “Tha Carter III” sold more than three million copies, “Rebirth” dives headfirst into completely new territory— his first full-length foray into the genre of rock. If you think this unusual recipe will result in anything resembling his duet with Kevin Rudolph, the fist pumping, ubiquitous anthem “Let It Rock,” you couldn’t be further from the truth.

We know relatively little about the self-proclaimed “greatest rapper alive,” except that his zest for consuming purple drank and candy is rivaled only by his tireless ability to churn out song after song, mixtape after mixtape. It soon becomes painfully clear that Wayne has absolutely no idea what ingredients combine to make a rock album successful—if you even want to call it that. The twelve tracks he has offered to us contain a healthy dose of his scratchy raps and hideously screechy Auto-Tune over misplaced, third-rate rock backdrops.

Seemingly little more than a horribly misguided vanity project, he trudges through tracks such as “Prom Queen” and “Drop The World,” in a lackadaisical manner, the whole performance begins to resemble an ugly and surreal karaoke nightmare. There’s even a track entitled “Da Da Da,” which should tell you all you need to know about the lyrical content.

Perhaps the lone semibright spot on the record is, logically, Wayne’s reunion with Rudolph on “One Way Trip.” Over a heavy and muted riff that circulates in the background, Wayne muses, “If I die today I bet the world ends tomorrow.” However, he isn’t able to progress through more than a few bars without reminding listeners of his monumental wealth: “And I got blind money, money you ain’t never see / And only in the mirror is where you find a better me.”

“When I play sick, I’m like Jordan with the flu,” Wayne boasts, referencing His Airness’ legendary performance in the 1997 NBA Finals while stricken with the stomach flu. If Wayne has so little control of his ego that he can’t resist making the blasphemous comparison between himself and MJ, than at least he could have the decency to realize that this unapologetically awful effort evokes more comparisons to Jordan’s feeble, pointless and disappointing return for the Wizards.

Wayne will soon go behind bars for a year after pleading guilty to gun charges, so this is presumably his last studio album until his release. “If I fall, I fall up and let the clouds hug me / And if I fall down, I bet I hit the ground runnin’” he says on “Runnin.” Here’s hoping he snaps out of his codeine-induced stupor and runs as far away from this garbage as he can.

Andrew Phelps is an alumnus of UW-River Falls.