Lil Wayne - "Rebirth" Jan 21, 2015 14:38:16 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Jan 21, 2015 14:38:16 GMT -5
By: Lil Wayne
By: Lil Wayne
To say the least, Lil Wayne's Rebirth is a sensory overload in the auditory department, and one of the most questionable, uneven releases he has ever made. By those two observations alone, it's no wonder the album has gone on to be one of the most bizarre catalog releases from Wayne and his Cash Money label, living on in infamy as the time Lil Wayne tried his hand at merging the genres of rap and rock to perplexing effect. As someone who craves not only the merging of two different genres (faithful readers will regard my love for "country rap" or "hick-hop"), I crave subversion to long-standing material that could use a tweak or even a small adjustment. However, I don't think any soul was reasonably prepared when Lil Wayne announced he would be recording and releasing a more rock-oriented album.
The album is a noisy hodgepodge, but few noisy hodgepodges have been so entertaining to listen to. Wayne opens with "American Star," one of three songs to feature the album's most prolific guest Shanell, with Wayne proudly boasting his loyalty to the United States despite the fact that he's always being watched and monitored while on US soil. It is with this song we are acquainted with Wayne's style pretty effectively, which consists of loud, boisterous rock beats layered over rap chords and synthesizers with Wayne's autotune-drenched voice bleeding through all the noise. This is such an outlandish concept that it's fair to say that without the help of some marginally clever or catchy lyrics, some songs fall completely flat on their face. However, when Wayne finds the right chords on the guitar, the right sound and tempo for the instrumentation, and the proper lyrical depth or humor, songs connect in a way that, for me, triggered some emotional relevance and potency.
The album's lead single, "Prom Queen," for example, was a one-off listen for me upon release. Revisiting it, listening to the lyrics, and admiring the way Wayne's vocals flow with the chaotic beat provided me with a sense of urgency I never got from him prior to this. It's a surprisingly sadder song of Wayne's, about a teenager who waited all year for the chance to ask his dreamgirl to accompany him to the biggest night of a high school senior's life. Upon rejection, Wayne is understandably upset, especially after being laughed and mocked, until later that night he finds the woman he asked, who also happens to be the "prom queen" judging from the title, is crying outside his door. "So you never know how, how everything could turn around!," Wayne says in a tone of reflection and properly-conveyed unpredictability upon seeing the woman he asked distraught on what should be the best night of her life.
When Wayne hits these kind of undertones, he's unstoppable. Songs like "The Price is Wrong," featuring breakneck drumming by Travis Barker, function well because of their hilarious, reckless lyricism, with this particular jam concerning a man who had a relationship with a woman in high school, who then left him for a man named Michael and became the most promiscuous soul in the school. The song reflects Wayne's disassociation with the woman in a way that is the equivalent of a person just getting all their feelings and agitation out by doing whatever they enjoy doing with complete force. Other inclusions on the album, like the Eminem-featured "Drop the World" and "Get a Life," are just fun tracks that, again, are exercises in a quirky, unabashedly ridiculous style that just so happen to click miraculously enough to make a song that sounds good and is chock full of energy.
The winner of the album that, sadly, never came to be is "Hot Revolver," featuring rapper and billionaire-entrepreneur Dre, which was originally released with the intention of being the album's second single before disappearing entirely from its tracklist. "Hot Revolver" concerns a man who is dating a woman who is completely smitten and in love with him, although the man has bigger plans that should commence as soon as he hops in his spaceship and drops this woman off. He assures her that he's not going to be gone forever and will be back someday, but she is not welcome in the galaxy with him; they make love in the Milky Way and then he sends her on her way. The song's title is ambiguous, but one of my interpretations involves the term "hot revolver" being an uncontrollable accessory; something that could blow up and cause chaos at any given moment. In the song, the man is the hot revolver because he is ruining what seems to be a great relationship with a woman who really loves him by dropping it for no clear reason, other than ego and half-baked ideas of what the future holds for him. Wayne effectively makes this a moody, ballady tune, with auto-tuned vocals flowing smoothly over instrumentation that is layered, slowly rising in pace and volume as the song goes on (effectively mimicking my interpretation of a "hot revolver"); combine it with Dre's chorus, which is a tad more raucous, and you have a song that should've been a frontrunning single or at least included on the album.
The hatred for Rebirth is understandable; this is sincerely one of the most baffling mainstream releases of the new decade and the fact that it still managed to be certified gold is beyond me. The album has plenty of tracks that one never wants to hear again upon first listen, but the entire work shows Wayne as a performer confident enough in a wacky idea to at least pursue it. The dark, brooding, and only vaguely humorous lyricism provided in the album shows Wayne at what could be seen as a time filled with angst and uncertainty, an assumption that could only be furthered justified with a great deal of songs concerning adolescent relationships. Call it "blind luck" or say that a stopped clock is right twice a day, but when every element of this style works, you can hear it with various songs in this project, making it an album, yes, worthy of a recommendation.
Recommended tracks (in order): "Prom Queen," "The Price is Wrong," "Drop the World," "Get a Life," and "I'm So Over You."