After his release from New York City’s Rikers Island correctional facility in 2010, Lil Wayne, who reached superstar status just a few years before with 2008’s Tha Carter III album release, was visibly bored. The Cash Money rapper’s success and troubles had clearly taken a toll on his creativity, and the guy who could warble inaudibly on a song and create a hit began to flounder in ill-fated side projects like his 2010 rock album Rebirth, writes Complex magazine staff writer Brad Weté.
Wayne hasn’t been great since his 2008-09 season, the one that saw him drop two projects—one acclaimed massively and the other by his core audience. In 2008, there was Tha Carter III, a beloved set for its combination of hard-hitting raps and pop luster. His frenetic, Bangladesh-produced monster “A Milli” was evenly matched by the quirky Auto-Tuned croak croons of “Lollipop.” The effort went platinum in a week. And rightfully so.
Then in 2009 came his remarkable No Ceilings mixtape, where he commandeered Dorrough’s “Ice Cream Paint Job,” Jay-Z’s “D.O.A.,” and Gucci Mane’s “Wasted” instrumentals and hawked wads of searing bars on them, only pausing to spark blunts in the vocal booth.
What followed that, really, was nothing good. Wayne began dabbling with rock music. The result was 2010’s mess, Rebirth, an effort many wished had been aborted upon conception. Next to strike out was I Am Not a Human Being, a batch of tired cuts to satiate fans that needed to satisfy their Wayne fix while the prolific rhymer served a brief sentence at Rikers Island after pleading guilty to criminal possession of a weapon the year prior.
Read Brad Weté’s entire op-ed at Complex.
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