Words by Jesse H.
He’s been rapping since the time when most of us were still running around in unmatched clothes and L.A. Gear light up sandals. He’s released five solo major label albums, one collaboration disc with his mentor, and three with his original group. He’s left a whole slew of mixtapes blazing, picked up a Grammy nomination, and oh by the way, has become president of his record label in his mid-20s. “He” is Dwayne Michael Carter Jr, better known as Lil’ Wayne.
Of course, in a career full of so much action for such a long period of time, there’s bound to be some drama (no pun intended for you fans of Dedication 2). There’s the pictures of him allegedly kissing his mentor Baby on the lips, there’s the endless amounts of naysayers who won’t accept his newfound status as a legitimate lyricist, and there’s the constant industry politics that go along with being on a label like Cash Money. That having been said, Weezy isn’t an innocent victim to all the drama, he also serves as a perpetrator with the enormous claims he makes. Recently he has been calling himself the “Greatest Rapper Alive,” going so far as to title one of his mixtapes after his new self-proclaimed moniker. Now, with a hotly anticipated studio album dropping this summer (Tha Carter III), Weezy is doing his best to continue to create buzz and as a result, releases The Greatest Rapper Alive II.
Weezy’s not shooting for classic material here, he’s proven himself as a fantastically exciting and versatile rapper at this point, so he keeps things straightforward on GRA2: varied flows that impress (most of the time) over beats that worked for others and still bang here. For those looking for a conscious follow up to par with Weezy’s “Georgiaâ€¦ Bush,” or his verse on Outkast’s “Hollywood Divorce,” there isn’t much here, save for his verse on “Little Girl Gone,” but that doesn’t necessarily make for a poor mixtape.
Lil’ Wayne’s lyrics focus on the glamorous life, but his flows are especially hot on tracks like the synth-heavy “Pump that Bass,” “Cash Money Boys,” and his rendition of “Throw Some D’s.” Other highlights of the disc include the Akon assisted “We Takin Over,” and the monstrous rip of Jibbs’ “King-Kong.” The “Make It Rain remix,” is the definite show stealer with an appealing R. Kelly contribution, a scathing double-time T.I. guest spot, and of course, a beat that still bangs even if my parents have heard the original by now.
There are a few missteps, like the Juelz Santana and Weezy collaboration “Black Democrats,” which features the “Black Republicans” beat that Jay-Z and Nas used. The lyrics and flows are so-so, and the song can’t measure up because of the monumental nature of the original. There are also too many guest spots by no-namers like Brisco, which bog down the disc’s flow and coherency and don’t help Weezy get his shine on. And yes, the subject matter of money, cars and women gets a little monotonous at times, but my good friend Bryan put it best when he said “If I had to hear a rapper talk about money, I could listen to Weezy talk about it all day.”
Overall, The Greatest Rapper Alive II does its job as a mixtape. It should keep Lil Wayne’s name buzzing into the summer, as it displays his unique way of putting words together and making them sound so great in delivery, even if the subject matter is at times one-dimensional. The disc doesn’t play as nicely as sayâ€¦ Dedication 2, but it doesn’t have to: the real test for whether Lil’ Wayne is what he says he is in the title of this mixtape, will come June 2007 with the release of Tha Carter III. Until then, enjoy The Greatest Rapper Alive II for what it is, a solid mixtape that will have you imagining the possibility of Weezy dropping a classic this summer.