Guilty Pleasures: Lil Wayne

When I was in sixth and seventh grade, screaming “Lil Wayne SUCKS!” was a fast way to earn social currency. In retrospect, this doesn’t make much sense, because a) probably none of us had ever listened to Lil Wayne, and b) Wayne dropped “Tha Carter III,” one of his most acclaimed albums, in the summer before sixth grade. As an insecure middle schooler, though, I liked that all I had to do to avoid total loserdom was say some rude things about a human Etch-a-Sketch.

I also had to wonder, though: Why did everyone agree that Lil Wayne sucked? What did this guy actually sound like?

I began to self-educate furtively on the family iTunes account still registered to my mom’s college email. Lil Wayne whined “Got Money” as the cover art for “Tha Carter III” burned incriminatingly on the screen. I immediately understood how the music could be regarded as really bad. I kept listening. I bought the song. Since then, I’ve continued to buy Lil Wayne tracks. I even dropped money on “Prom Queen,” probably because I liked seeing Wayne’s “soft” side. (Soft is, of course, relative: He raps about his pubescent love interest’s “fancy underwear.” Imagine Taylor Swift keening about an ex’s couture Calvin Klein boxers.)

The nadir—or maybe it was the pinnacle—of my Lil Wayne support was the $1.29 spent on “Drop the World.” The track starts off sounding a bit like a bad Tumblr post: “I got ice in my veins, blood in my eyes / Hate in my heart, love in my mind / I seen nights full of pain, days are the same / You keep the sunshine, save me the rain / I search but never find, hurt but never cry.” And then, in the verse’s last two lines, Wayne’s monotone drawl rips into a scream that, accompanied by head-thrashing drum set, explodes into the chorus: “So I pick the world up and I'mma drop it on your f*cking head! B*tch, I pick the world up and I'mma drop it on your f*cking head!” Boasting, insults, and threats are rap’s connective tissue—but Wayne takes it to the next level here. He is not just going to rap you into obsolescence, sleep with your women, kill you, or channel the vengeful ghost of a silverback gorilla and massacre your family in a Percolet-crazed frenzy. No: He is going to “pick the world up and drop it on your f**king head!” He’s not just a multimillion dollar rap mogul—he is anti-gravity, Atlas, God Himself.

I’ve come to really appreciate Lil Wayne, probably less for his actual discography than for his wit and general kookiness, or for the concept of his persona. Who else would publish their prison diary as a book? Even coming from Lil Wayne, though, the chorus of “Drop the World” is one of the worst insults ever. It reminds me of a moment during comedian Jimmy Carr’s “Funny Business” special when, after suffering a ruthless round of “your mom’s a prostitute” jokes from Carr, a beleaguered heckler shouts back, “Your face is like a 42-inch wide TV!” I mean, how does one pick the world up and drop it onto someone’s head if that individual is still standing on the world itself? Is “world” metaphorical here? Who let Wayne into the studio with those lyrics? Why did Eminem agree to be featured?

But there is something deeply satisfying about hearing Lil Wayne, usually so smug with his scratched-ice voice and signature cackle, spitting bad digs like a red-faced fifth grader who’s been shoved on the playground. Unlike some of the physical and sexual violence tossed around in other adrenaline-rousing rap lyrics, this threat is so far-fetched it’s harmless; at the same time, there’s a certain appeal to the idea of dropping 5.9 sextillion tons of matter onto things and people we don’t like. I’m only slightly ashamed to admit that when “Drop the World” shuffled back into my life a couple months ago, I didn’t tap the fast forward button. I could almost see Lil Wayne giggling next to a scowling Eminem: “Man, these lyrics f*ckin’ SUCK!”

—Staff writer Emily Zhao can be reached at


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