Not since Busta
Rhymes' flurry of activity back in 2004 have we seen one artist make so
many moves in such a small amount of time as Lil Wayne. Following the release of Tha Carter, Lil Wayne
started his own crew Young Money,
and then proceeded to appear on too many mixtapes and albums to count,
including everyone from Avant to Chris Brown to OutKast to Cam'ron to DJ Khaled (and that's just off the top
of my head). He topped the platinum sales of Tha Carter with last year's Tha
Carter II, an album that helped further establish southern legitimacy in
terms of lyricism, all the while repping for the embattled hurricane Katrina
victims in his home state of Louisiana.
Then there was/ is the ghostwriting feud with Gille The Kid, a slew of banishments from local venues and even
rumors of romance between he and the Birdman,
So it was with cautious optimism that I got into Like Father, Like Son. If you heard Tha Carter II, then you encountered a Lil Wayne that was all about distinguishing himself from the
legions of other southern rappers on the scene while simultaneously trying to
elevate the status of his genre beyond trendy club dance-move tracks currently
saturating radio airwaves from coast-to-coast.
Like Father, Like Son has neither of
those heroic qualities. Although he's billed second on the album he is clearly
the featured persona, dominating virtually every track with talent, charisma
and quips that are sure to entertain. I found it refreshing to hear Weezy return to the youthful,
uninhibited improv-style of rhyming. His flow on this album is somewhere
between freestyle and pre-fab, which lends an un-polished feel to it. This is a
very good thing. Lil Wayne is at his
raspy best when he sounds like he's distracted in the booth, almost as if he doesn't
really need to try that hard. He excels by not taking himself too seriously.
The focus is still there, however, and he dabbles in the content that made him
a Cash Money Millionaire on tracks
like "Get That Money" and "Over Here Hustlin'."
There are tracks that you won't miss; namely, "1st Key" and the title track.
The former because it's dumb and the latter because it borrows a little too
heavily from other rapper's rhymebooks: "Birthdays
was the worst days/ now we sippin on Louie when we thirsty." And both are
perhaps a little too autobiographical, with Weezy laying on the I-owe-my-whole-life-to-the-Stunna perhaps a little too thick. "Don't Die" is on life support:
dismal at best, confused at worst. Wayne mentions
his recent banishment from South-Beach hot spot Wet Willies in the hook, but I'm still not sure what Baby is talking about... mostly Phantoms, Maserati's, G-4's and
the like. "Ain't Worried Bout Shit" should have been titled "Ain't Talking Bout
Shit," or at least "Ain't Stressing Bout Shit (since that's what Wayne
actually says in the hook)." Similarly, "Out the Pound" recycles several tried
and true Cash Money clichés: diamond
in the back, shine in the summer, 20-inch rims...etc. Oh, and "Leather So Soft"
is a lullaby.
"Army Gunz" is more like it: real gangsta rhetoric backed-up by a classic line
from Tha Carter's breakthrough hit "Go
DJ": "Now you know I play it, like a pro
in the game" - looped up to serve as a ominous hook. Most notably Wanye showcases his incredible
versatility by switching rhyme schemes three times. Fortunately there are bars
on tracks like Scott Storch's "You
Ain't Know" which are admittedly meaningless, yet hilarious. Wayne continues to
find new ways to tell us old stuff: "Niggas
wonder why I stress / that I am the best / cause even bobble heads tell me yes
/ put it on the hood / I'm Hollywood to death / I'm already good / I'm working
on my left / a jungle on my wrist / a circus on my neck / don't forget the baby
though / don't forget the F".
"Know What I'm Doin'" features Rick Ross
and T-Pain doing his Akon thing, electrifying the song with
a hook that screams top 40 radio. Baby
flips birds, Ross brags about Miami- nothing new here. Wayne's verse too, is so-so, but true fans
will appreciate how he addresses rumors from earlier this year concerning his
This album features Lil Wayne doing
his thing over stellar beats courtesy of T-Mix
who contributed the bulk of the production. Although at times the production
tends to blend together ("Get That Money" and "No More" sound like the exact
same song!) Birdman and Weezy deserve credit for not going the
snap-music route, which even non-southern artists are doing these days.
Instead, they keep it cash by sticking with droning 808 beats and furious
hi-hats. "High" and "Cali Dro" are the album's tributes to marijuana, with "Cali
Dro" being the more energetic although not necessarily the superior of the two.
"About All That" features New Yorker Fat
Joe, who himself is no stranger to southern-style rap. The four minute and
thirty-two second track staggers its way to the finish line, causing me to
wonder why this one made the cut...especially given the recent negativity
expressed by Joey Crack regarding Wayne's involvement on his own album,
also due out this fall.
Believe it or not, it's the album's lead single "Stuntin' Like My Daddy" that
epitomizes the best and worse of the Baby/
Lil Wayne collaboration. Baby certainly
does not impress, but then again he's never been accused of being a dope emcee.
Instead he adds the fatherly-swag that this CD needs, and doesn't cause Lil Wayne to miss a beat. Like much of
the disc, the beat is sheer lava, which Wayne
effortless rides in his own yoom-on-that-Yamaha-gotta-love-it way. Like much of
Wayne's music the content is a bit
transparent, albeit entertaining. And like much of this album, Wayne
makes it perfectly clear that the Birdman
is in fact his daddy, in every sense of the word. Without commenting on the
rumors and controversy concerning the exact nature of their relationship, I
will say that their decision to broadcast their complete partnership can only
fuel the speculations of those who point to homosexuality within the Cash Money camp.
Rumors aside, Like Father, Like Son
is a solid, creative album on which Lil
Wayne and The Birdman go where
others have failed - by doing an entire album of duos.