Something’s holding Lil’ Wayne back. Woadie just will not get serious in the recording booth. The potential–while certainly not limitless–for bigger and better things exists; you can hear it all in his giddy-sounding-but-grime-filled flow. If only he had some decent material to work with. Therein lies the major concern with flamboyant 19-year-old: you hear the same, tired banter of hoes, clothes and kitted-out autos in all his rhymes.
500 Degreez (the title’s seemingly playing off the southern classic from Juvenile, 400 Degreez) just can’t get past its own lack of originality–no matter how hard the beats try. “Bloodline,” a pulsating tribute to all things keeping Weezie grounded, certainly works. So does the neck-achingly good “Worry Me” and the Sunday strolling “Young ‘N Blues.” Unfortunately, every other track follows pretty much the same format: Mannie Fresh drops a frenzied club beat that Lil Wayne, in turn, rides like a 2002 Ford Excursion on 22s.
“Way of Life,” is factory-sealed radio fare, playing off the Junior Mafia classic “Get Money” to a T. Heads will nod uncontrollably to it and “Gangsta and Pimps.” Asses will shake frantically when “Get That Dough” blares from speakers. But, potna, not a single brain cell will get used anywhere. There’s just something about non-stop references to Gucci interiors and iced-out bracelets that simply dumbs one down, and ultimately makes 500 Degreez just another average Cash Money Records release.