Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Lil Wayne - Best Rapper Alive? Maria thinks not...

Please please please before reading this, I’d like to establish that YES I DO like Lil Wayne as an artist but I DO NOT think he is the BEST RAPPER ALIVE.

So to get on with it, lol…

Is Lil Wayne the best rapper alive? If you’re asking me, the answer is no, but is my opinion going to change the number of groupies he has? The answer is certainly not. What is good for one person may be completely different for another. This is why we have opinions upon things, but to me, even our opinions follow some basic logic. If I were to ask you why you don’t like vegetables, someone would probably respond because they don’t find their taste appealing to our senses. If someone were to ask you why you don’t like skydiving, you would probably say because you see it as scary and dangerous. Basically everything follows reason to a certain extent; therefore, I can reasonably say that my opinions, to some extent, are based off logic or reason. I’d also like to state that while there is such a thing as difference of opinion, there is also a thing called general opinion. In general most people like ice cream and pizza, in general most guys find Halle Barry attractive, and in general most people want a high paying job with benefits. This is not because everyone randomly decides to like these things, for no reason, but because they fit the criteria of something they should like. For instance a high paying job gives people financial security, and Halle Barry has a symmetrical face and slim body, these are all things that general opinion says are good. So, now the question arises, why is general opinion important? Well my Torontonians, general opinions are important because we can use them as a standard to judge things. In the following paragraphs, I am going to demonstrate how Lil Wayne does not meet any of the generally accepted criteria, needed to be considered to me, “The Best Rapper Alive”. In fact he fails at most of them…LOL…don’t hate me! He’s dope yessss…but you’ll see my argument at the end and YES folks, I put A LOT of thought into this, haha.

Now…when listening to rap, what are some of the generally accepted qualities we look for in the rapper and his music? If we were to break it down, lyrics and flow would be a big part of the equation, as would the beats that are used, how relatable the rappers are, and how credible they are. If you don’t agree, consider this! -> There is a kid at your school whose dying ambition it is to be a rapper, yet his lyrics are nasty, have no meaning, and don’t rhyme. Would you consider this cat to be a talented rapper? Doubtful. If this same individual had good lyrics, but couldn’t change up their flow or much less stay on beat, would they be considered good? Again, nope! Now, what if their beats were horrible, if he was rapping about an unclear subject at length, and if you found all of his raps to be untrue? We are sure in all these cases, if you applied these standards to any aspiring rapper with no media attention, that you would deem them a bad rapper; therefore, we can say that “generally” these are things that we look for in a rapper, and the fact they fail at one or more of them imposes the fact that they are not that great, much less the best. (Wow, I almost passed out right there re-reading that sentence back to myself! LOL) Now, what if all these things applied to Lil Wayne?

I’d like to just PAUSE for a sec and let you know, NO, I am NOT jealous of Lil Wayne and NO I am NOT HATING on him either, I say this because when asked this question before and once people heard my answer they called me hater , lol. While Lil Wayne is admired by many, he does not live a lifestyle that I would wish to follow, I’d like to say I’m a fairly religious girl , I go to church every Sunday, lol... furthermore, it can’t be said that I’m a “hater”, because in my opinion, “haters” hate on multiple things, without reason. Instead my dislike for Lil Wayne being called the BEST RAPPER ALIVE comes from my belief that he is an individual who lacks rapping talent. Think about it now, if I were truly a “hater” or a jealous individual, I would hate or be jealous of virtually everyone in the music industry at the moment, as they all, to a certain extent, share many of the same qualities. So you’re probably wondering, why the hell am I taking my time to write this? Again, it will all be revealed in the end…muhahah so keep reading ...

The first thing I’d like to prove is that Lil Wayne’s rise to fame is largely due to media attention and effective use of marketing, and in no way due to genuine talent..haha! Don’t worry kiddies; I have facts to back my shit up! Lil Wayne is often hailed as a breakthrough new artist who rose to fame because of his incredible abilities and style. But that impression that Lil Wayne fans seem to have of him is false. Weeezy does not represent quality rap/hip-hop in any way, well, to me at least and the idea that his notoriety was gained through talent is wrong.

Lil Wayne, or Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr., is not new to the rap scene at all. He’s been around since 1997, and until 2008 did he really, really make it big. So the idea that sheer talent quickly rocketed him to his current level of fame is obviously untrue. Lil Wayne began his career rapping with the rap group “Hot Boys”, which included extremely famous rappers such as Juvenile and B.G. There is no doubt that association with these big names must have brought him a lot of publicity. During the years before his first album, he was also featured on other albums with big name rappers, additionally adding to his name, but not necessarily his talent. Finally, in 1999 he released his first album “Tha Block is Hot” which did gain popular notice, and even got him a nomination as Best New Artist in Source magazine. BUT that album “featured significant contributions from Hot Boys”. So while this first release may seem like a proof of his greatness, Lil Wayne was yet to make an album truly solo. His next two albums, arguably his first two solo ones, were considered by many to be disappointments, and many critics claim that he was “coasting on the fame and the collective success of Hot Boys” and that he showed a “lack of coherent narratives in his verse.”…DON’T GET HEATED by that remark, I got that one straight out of SOURCE!

In 2004(with Tha Carter) he finally managed to again achieve some moderate success, with his debut, but it took FIVE years for him to make another popular album. After “Tha Carter”, from 2004-2008, Lil Wayne did nothing but make mix tapes and do singles with famous rappers, again simply widening his publicity base. He recorded singles with Chris Brown, Fat Joe, Lloyd, Rick Ross, Akon, Birdman, DJ Khaled, and Busta Ryhmes. After four years of working with a genuine crowd of famous rappers, Lil Wayne finally decided to release an album of his own. It wasn’t until 2008 with “Tha Carter III” that he became the rapper we know and love today. With his massive hit “Lollipop” Lil Wayne became one of the most famous rappers of our time, taking over our radio stations hourly. But again, remember how many people he worked with, and how much publicity he needed to make himself such a phenomenon. Does this really sound like one of the most talented rappers of our time? Or simply the most connected? Hmm…remember, it’s ALL about connections people!!

Now, to me... it seems fairly established that Lil Wayne’s connections brought him most of his fame, let us examine why he needed so much media association to become a hit. Let’s examine his songs. To examine most of his songs would be a waste of time, since only a few singles even gained popular success, so his most famous and acclaimed song, Lollipop, should be a good place to start.

The sad part about Lollipop is that most of the catchy part of the song isn’t even him, it’s some guy singing a chorus (you know it, “shawty wanna thug, bottles in tha club…”), and all the while Lil Wayne only contributes with a brilliant series of background “ya… ya… ya’s”. DON’T GET ME WRONG; the BEAT to this song is sick, HE HAS A GOOD PRODUCER, however, Lil Wayne doesn’t use the decent beat to any great effect whatsoever. Pauses or filler noise are heard throughout the song, all in an effort to sort of stay on beat. Eleven years into his rapping career and he seems to still have issues with a beat? Remember THIS is his BIG song.

Another thing, do you ever hear Lil Wayne put attitude into his rapping? Not really. I’m listening to Lollipop and Got Money now, and it sounds like all his parts have the same droning pulse which seems to entrance people. Rappers are supposed to at least sound emphatic about what they say, even if it’s really dumb, but Lil Wayne can’t seem to manage that – LOL…ohh man, I’m going to be put on the blast for this! What’s more is that he doesn’t pronounce what he is saying! It would seem like saying things at a low, stately, drone would enhance his understandability, after all, most people not understanding rap lyrics complain that “*BLANK* raps too fast for me to understand!” Strangely enough, I’ve never heard that complaint with regards to Lil Wayne. Instead, I (and I’ve heard many others agree) state that I can barely understand what he is saying because he never really pronounces anything at all. This is the age of voice synthesizers and extremely high tech equipment, and I don’t understand how he can’t at least synthesize something better than a mumble!!

Probably the biggest problem I have with the popular conception of Lil Wayne is the idea that his lyrics hold gems of genius. His fans constantly state how deep and admirable his rhymes and metaphors are, but looking at some of his song titles alone should be enough to prove how wack this idea is. The list of Lil Wayne’s “best”/ most popular rap songs off the net looks like this : Milli, Lollipop, Got Money, I'm Me, Pussy M.V.P., I Feel Like Dying, Something You Forgot, and I'm A Beast. Titles are supposed to give you the main idea of what a song is about, right? So, simply looking at these titles, what is the impression you get? Out of these eight hit songs, only two titles have anything that could possibly contain a meaningful subject in them, I Feel Like Dying, and Something You Forgot. The other SIX, are either about how rich he is (Milli, Got Money), his supposed sexual prowess (Pussy MVP, Lollipop), and how awesome he is (I’m A Beast, I’m Me). So basically, Lil Wayne’s fame is mostly built upon nothing other than him rapping about how awesome he is; deep, no? Hahah…These ideas are mainly simplistic and self absorbed, yet Lil Wayne has managed to write large majority of his songs based on them. If I went around Toronto and shouted how spectacular I was on the street, people would probably call me deranged or a narcissistic asshole, but, Lil Wayne, with his hundreds of publicity stunts, has managed to become a rap trend…focus on the word TREND.

So, the song titles are simplistic, now let’s look at the lyrics themselves, hit song “Milli” is an example. And, just so no one can say I’m drawing lyrics out of context, I’ll go through an entire section of the song.

"...They say I'm rappin like BIG jay, and Tupac, //Andre 3000 where is Erika Badu at ...
My name ain't Bic but I keep dat flame man //Who that wanna do dat boy ya knew dat u dat Swallow // And I be da shit now u got loose bowels
I don't 'O U' like two vowels //But I would like for u to pay me by the hOUr
And I'd rather be pushing flowers //Then to be in the pen sharing showers
Tony told us this world was ours //And the Bible told us every girl was sour…
Don't play in her garden ... her flower //Call me Mr. Carter or Mr. Lawn Mower
Boy I got so many bitches like I'm .. //Even Gwen Stefani sees she couldn't doubt me"

To start this verse, Lil Wayne says “I’m rapping like BIG, jay, and Tupac”, and compares himself to Andre 3000 and Erika Badu. These are all huge, respected names, so basically he is saying he is awesome at rapping. HELLO…to me, Weezy is nowhere NEAR in a same catergory as Andre 3000. Then he talks about not being a BIC(lighter) and keeping “dat flame”. A connection can sort of be seen, but its hard to see where he is going and what he is saying…OK, really…WTF is he saying? When you get down to it, these lyrics mean nothing other than “I’m so baller,” yet, Lil Wayne decides to say it in a thousand small ways. Indeed, he goes on to say “I be da sh**, now you got loose bowels”. Ok! was that necessary? LOL…Metaphors are supposed to enhance people’s understanding of what you are saying, instead of being disgusting and confusing. After that lovely line, he talks about how he doesn’t “’O U’ like two vowels [Get it? O=owe U=you, hilarious no?]” Ummm, what? We have loose bowels (because he is so awesome?) and now he doesn’t owe us money? What is he even saying? He does go on though. Next he says “But I would like for you to pay me by the hOUr” Yeah... I don’t even know what he means by that. It sounds like he wants his fan base to keep buying his album… maybe? From this Lil Wayne jumps to how he would rather be dead than in jail ("And I'd rather be pushing flowers //Then to be in the pen sharing shower). I have no idea why he decided to start talking about this mid rap. It has no context nor reason for being here, basically its just a random metaphoric thought. After that insert, Lil Wayne really starts to make sense when he talks about how the “Bible told us every girl was sour…” (Direct quote?) And he talks about not playing in her garden, which he might mow, since he is “Mr. Lawn Mower.” LMFAO…wow, I think I should start dissecting songs more often, hahaha! Maybe by every girl being sour, and not playing in her garden he is alluding to how Adam was in the Garden of Eden and ate the forbidden fruit… but that really makes no sense, because it wasn’t Eve’s garden, and there is no reference to a flower in the Adam and Eve tale. So I’ll chalk that up to another random statement that conveniently rhymes.

PLEASE…go back and re-read before you scroll down to the bottom to comment, lol…I realize I will get some really nasty replies because we got some devoted Weeezy fans, but read this with an open mind, I had fun writing this so far, lol. Even that small song excerpt became extremely unneeded and exhausting, and yet it, by far, does not display the worst of his lyrics. You can argue that song just isn’t one where he shows his genius, but after looking at many of his other famous lyrics; we can guarantee that none of them drastically outshine these. Every Lil Wayne song follows the same basic structure found in the “Milli” excerpt. They have an extremely simplistic idea, reiterated many times with a large amount of complicated and unhelpful metaphors, plus some random comments that rhyme well. That’s it…BUT…the beat is what gets that booty poppin’ right? Again…standing ovation for his producer!

Umm…I think I’m going to stop with my argument here please, be patient, I shall reveal my reasoning for writing such a note in a little bit, but I’d like to examine some FACTS together;

If one were to judge with an open and unbiased mind, they would find that Lil Wayne’s lyrics and rapping don’t speak for themselves; therefore, he relies on the fame of close associates to gain media notoriety, which is obviously the primary cause for his success today. While I don’t see Lil Wayne as THE BEST RAPPER ALIVE, I do admit that he is a good businessman, effectively using samples from hit songs, cameo appearances, and tons of self-hype to catapult himself to the top of the charts. BUT this hype is built upon a false basis, which is the foundation for his fame.

My purpose in writing this was not to “hate” but to free your mind, not just in this case but in many others, whether it be what music you listen to, what food you eat, or what political views you choose to associate yourself with. I urge you to judge things carefully, and not simply go with what the mainstream tells you. John Mayer once said, “when they own the information they can bend it all they want”, it seems that a truer statement was never spoken. Flobots say that “there is a war going on for your mind,” well it seems we’re losing. To win this war we must honestly and openly ask ourselves why we choose to have the opinions we have, and make sure when we’re buying a product, or accepting an idea we’re buying, or accepting it for the actual product or idea, and not a false idea associated with it. Of course I can’t tell you what to like or dislike, but based on fairly universal criteria, I can ask you to really evaluate what you decide is good or bad, and that includes the skill and talent of Lil Wayne as “The Best Rapper Alive”. Again, this isn't a personal attack on him as a human being; instead I simply wrote this to display my personal logic and reasons behind my opinion of Lil Wayne. Now upon reading this, decide for yourself if Lil Wayne is still the messiah to rap. The choice is up to you.

Here is a short list of rappers, in no particular order, who I deem to be worthy of listening to :) ;

Tupac, Biggie, The Roots, Lupe Fiasco, Eminem, Jay Z, Bone Thugs n Harmony, Krayzie Bone, Common, Papoose, Immortal Technique, Outkast, Swollen Members, Kanye West, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Dilated Peoples, Q-Tip, Black Eyed Peas, and Flobots!!

I hope I didn’t offend any die hard Lil Wayne fans, especially since the concert is this week. But as primarily mentioned, I don’t “hate” on Lil Wayne, I don’t hate on anyone, I just don’t agree with the statement that he is the “best rapper alive”. If it were up to me, I’d gladly hand that title over to Hova.

But since I KNOW there are some groupies out there, go ahead and put me on the blast, just remember to STOP and GO BACK to the beginning and thoroughly take in my paragraph on opinions!!

Now, to the FOOL who made me write this, lol…your name won’t be mentioned, he said to me that hip hop is dead…which is a statement I would have agreed it a couple months ago, but 2009 is the year I personally believe that will host the resurrection of hip hop! Why do I think so? Firstly and fore mostly go to Will’s page and peep the video! THAT IS HOMEGROWN HIP HOP!!!!!!! I cannot stress that enough, thank you so much for posting that Will, and to all the cats who took part, you revived my love affair with hip hop ♥

Secondly…look out for these albums this year from some of those big names; Mos Def – Estactic, Common – The Believer, Lupe Fiasco – LupEND, Kanye West – Good Ass Job, and my most highly anticipated, Jay-Z – Blueprint 3!!!

Again, to the Jester who told me hip hop was dead and that Weezy took over and is the best rapper alive…THANK YOU, because if you never spat those foolish words, I would have never came out to discredit Lil Wayne/Birdman Junior/The Carter/and many other aliases.