Lil Wayne’s Rap Unreformed Even From Jail

Lil Wayne -- "I Am Not a Human Being" -- Young Money -- 4 STARS

Courtesy Young Money

Jail time doesn’t always equate reform. When T.I. was released from jail, his first album was one of repentance, meant to teach his audience that breaking the law is not the way. But take Lil Wayne, who pleaded guilty in October 2009 to weapon posession and has been in prison for seven months—he just released an album from his cell on his birthday, heralding everything he does that normal society doesn’t consider acceptable. Weezy’s new album, “I Am Not a Human Being,” proclaims “You can try to lock me up / You can try to break me down / But I stay strong / It’s my time / Can’t stop now cause that ain’t me.” It’s hard, in the best sense of the word, and Weezy uses his ever clever and current lyrics to bring extremely explicit rap to the mainstream.

It’s evident from the very beginning of the album that this is the true Lil Wayne and not the Lil Wayne you hear when he raps on pop songs. Unlike his appearances in songs like Jay Sean’s “Down,” in this album Weezy is back to rapping about his crazy life and his flow isn’t hindered by the tracks of others. The whole album has the quintessential Weezy lyrical form that builds up himself and his crew and makes references using similes. He sings “I’m just so ahead of my time like dog years,” and “I’m a young god, swagga un-flawed / Bitch I’m in the building, you in the front yard,” all in the first track “Gonorrhea.” It starts the album off with a bang and sets up the rest of the album—a joy ride of curse words, sex, and degradation of all other rappers.

The album features the real Lil Wayne to such an extent that even the effects of his famous cups of lean—cough syrup and vodka—can be heard throughout. “I’m Single” is dreamy and unaffected at the same time. He speaks almost objectively about breaking up with his girlfriend rapping, “Damn, she text me all day and night / So pissed off, she ain’t even spelling shit right / I text her back and tell her it’s life / Now somebody tell them ho’s I’m single for the night.” All of his songs include some aspect that alludes to Weezy’s current life—not the one of imprisonment, but the one of the decadence he was living when he started recording this album—but it is particularly noticeable in this track, which has Lil Wayne bragging about everything he can do as a single man.

Because the album is a manifestation of Lil Wyane himself, most of the songs are energetic, fast and continually building up the beat. However, “I Am Not a Human Being” also includes slower tracks like “With You,” which serve to break up what may have been a monotonous album. The title track even brings in elements of rock, which Weezy has been trying to incorporate into his style. This song does it right, unlike his past attempts. It includes recordings of real session musicians rather than from a synthesizer, but a beat that keeps it grounded in hip-hop roots.

The last portion of the album is a tribute to Lil Wayne’s label Young Money Entertainment and the songs are accordingly named “YM Banger” and “YM Salute.” Six of the 13 people on the label play some part in these two songs, and two other artists, Lil Twist and Nicki Minaj, are featured in some other part of the album as well. “I Am Not a Human Being” serves as kind of a debut of the record label and it highlights its strengths and weaknesses. The group works very well cohesively, but mainly because a couple of the people on the label, like Drake and Lil Twist, sing or rap with the same nasally voice that Lil Wayne has trademarked. This makes it a little bit confusing to pick out the other artists from Lil Wayne at times, and doesn’t have the intended effect of introducing new artists to the audience.


“I Am Not a Human Being” puts all of Lil Wayne’s current life on display. It provides tons of quick, adoptable one-liners and is driven by raw energy. Even though it slows down in some places, it doesn’t ever cut out the intensity. Though at face value it seems like one big ego trip for Weezy, it’s easy to ride along on the trip and adopt hisrockstar attitude.


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