“Curtains”: Review Of Lil Wayne’s ‘I Am Not A Human Being II’

04.11.13 5 years ago 14 Comments

Lil Wayne has cultivated something of a three-tier system for his solo releases. For the better part of his career, the top stratosphere has been reserved for his famed Tha Carter series. The bottom lane has been marked off for mixtapes, the medium through which he’s enjoyed some of his most heralded successes. And in recent years, Wayne has carved out a middle tier for slap-dash stopgap projects like Rebirth, I Am Not a Human Being, and now I Am Not a Human Being II – solo “albums” weighted with none of the commercial or artistic expectations typically associated with the work of A-list artists.

That these middling efforts have just been accepted as inevitable products of the YMCMB assembly line seems to have bred a sustained complacency in Weezy. I Am Not a Human Being II is just the latest example: it’s an aimless mess of an album that doesn’t even bother to pretend like it’s aiming to be anything better. If some of the fun in Wayne’s delivery is still intact, IANAB2 finds him at half-speed in pretty much every other facet of his craft.

The writing is particularly depressing, an endless barrage of dick jokes and cringe-worthy puns that listeners see coming from a mile away. For a guy whose zany, off-kilter, and word-drunk punchlines were once his calling card, it’s uninspired stuff. As hedonistic as rap can be, it’s hard to think of another superstar as singularly sex-obsessed as Wayne. Between this and Dedication 4, you will have become more familiar with his sexual proclivity than you would have ever hoped.

When the overly processed production isn’t bleeding between tracks or approximating C-grade versions of popular sounds, the album’s lack of structure does allow for a few moments of interest. Wayne typically pulls off dramatic and vaguely pensive with a certain woozy charm, and that’s no different here (“God Bless Amerika”). And Juicy J’s production adds some bite to the otherwise toothless tough talk of “Gunwalk” and “Trigger Finger.”

Paired with the right collaborators, Weezy can still knock out mindless entertainment of a certain caliber: Mike Will and Future work their melodic magic with the help of an effectively nonchalant Drake on “Love Me”; T-Minus brings the appropriate low-end thump to the 2 Chainz duet “Rich as Fuck”; and Gunplay and Trina sound as if there’s still reason to be excited about Wayne’s music, bringing real verve to their guest spots on “Beat the Shit” and “Wowzers” respectively. In his prime, songs became hits because of Wayne. Now he’s managing to churn out a few in spite of himself.

Label: Young Money, Cash Money, Republic | Producers: A+, Christian Davis Stalnecker, Cool & Dre, Crazy Mike, David Banner, Detail, Diplo, DVLP, ELEW, Fabio Marascuillo, Filthy, Hudson Mohawke, Juicy J, Lunice, Mike Banger, Mike WiLL Made It, Nikhil Seetharam, Rasool Diaz, Sarom, Soulja Boy, Streetrunner, T-Minus

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