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Lil Wayne’s mixtapes used to be events in rap. His incredible work on the Dedication and Drought series gave birth to the Mixtape Weezy that could credibly claim to be the best rapper alive in 2006-07, a rapper so good that Jay-Z admitted on his otherwise rapper-loathing “D.O.A.” that he “might send this to the Mixtape Weezy.” Even Weezy’s pre-incarceration tape, No Ceilings, flashed the brilliant, offbeat wit that made Wayne a show-stealer for the better part of three years. Sorry 4 The Wait, released today, finds Wayne getting his show stolen.
Sorry is ostensibly an apologia for the delays plaguing Tha Carter IV, now dropping at the end of August; it could have restarted the hype train for that album, but instead reinforces the growing assumption that Wayne’s lost more than a little joie de vivre. The 2011 Weezy is on everything but fire, full of empty threats (having someone else shoot for him is a frequent boast, and admittedly smart for a guy convicted of gun possession), and trotting out come-ons (to “bitches,” natch) that won’t sound appealing to anyone who has heard Weezy be authentically sexy, as on “Motivation.” Listen to the mixtape through and it’s hard to decide which of those approaches is most disappointing; catch the “Yeah, Weezy go hard like Cialis” line on the titular outro track—over a stripped-down version of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep”—and it’s hard not to feel bad for him, diminished to tellingly flaccid bars.
Weezy’s best mixtape moments were marked by creative ferocity and, unsurprisingly, dedication. He would lay siege to dozens of instrumentals, rarely deigning to grant listeners the respite of a hook, and usually bounced from topic to topic like a demented Pogo stick. Mixtape Weezy, even when was a dude who loved his job doing it better than anyone else could: “I am the beast/ Feed me rappers or feed me beats,” right? Sorry finds him stuck in a rut throughout, attempting to prove his virility by telling with boasts rather than showing it with lyrical derring-do. The “Show, don’t tell” edict is most unforgivably violated on “IDK,” which finds Wayne using the “Girls (Run The World)” beat to talk for nearly five minutes, with nary an attempt to rap.
It’s frustrating to hear someone who once seemed so engrossed with the nuts and bolts of exciting rap instead trafficking in posturing, and the unimaginative beat selection (“Racks,” “Tupac’s Back,” “Marvins Room”) only makes that more exhausting. A Lil Wayne that seems dead and gone once would have ripped these beats to shreds; now, he’s content to ape Miguel’s leaning flow on “Sure Thing” and bounce around on “Gucci Gucci,” inadvertently revealing he knows how to correctly pronounce Kreayshawn’s name.
But if that’s frustrating, it’s downright disturbing that this mixtape is stolen in two cameos from a rapper few value as a lyricist and a rapper whose name guarantees he will never have a national profile. Lil B is the former, and his appearance on “Grove St. Party” is hilarious: the Based God does what he always does, bragging nonsensically about being “armed like a cradle” while wearing a “tiny shirt” and “tiny pants.” B’s not even a fifth as technically skilled as even this diminished Wayne, but he doesn’t sound for a second like he doesn’t know how to have fun, and fun rap trumps lyrical acrobatics nine times of ten.
Then there’s the verse from New Orleans rapper Flow (good luck with that career in the Google era, buddy) on the “Inkredible (Remix)”-borrowing track, the lone instrumental here that betrays any hunger. He’s “vampire living,” and “possessed,” and goes Odd Future-blunt with the horrifying “The game is a bitch, hold ‘er down and rape her.” The obvious Tyler, the Creator shout-out comes two bars later, but maybe the best threat on the entire mixtape (“Cock a semi, drop ya like an Otterbox”) also belongs to Flow, and his energy, including the distorted laugh that caps his verse, stands in stark contrast to much of the rest of Sorry.
When Wayne finally comes with a medium-throttled verse to follow Flow, it’s not hard to wonder why we had to wait so long for it. But it’s easy to question whether waiting for Tha Carter IV is worth doing.