Lil Wayne will go down as one of the best rappers to ever live when he hangs it up. Whether you go by record sales, critical acclaim, or impact you’re hard pressed to find many who have done it better. However, the Lil Wayne that could say he’s the best rapper alive without anyone batting an eyelid is a distant memory. After listening to Lil Wayne’s tenth studio album, I Am Not a Human Being II, it’s hard to see that rapper ever returning.
The albums intro, “IANAHB”, begins with a beautiful 90 second piano intro and Lil Wayne showing flashes of brilliance, but overall missing with basic and predictable punch lines, “Like a white boy wearing black paint you’re a fake ass ni**a.” The inconsistency shown in the opening song would be a constant theme throughout the album. The next notable moment comes on the first song that features 2 Chainz; “Days and Days”.
“Days and Days” has Wayne in arguably his best form of the album. He effortlessly destroys the Cool & Dre beat in his best impersonation of Lil Wayne circa 2008; and in the process handsomely paying back 2 Chainz for that full out washing he delivered him last year. The flanged Barbara Lynn vocals serve as the perfect chorus as the two rappers roll up their sleeves and tag team the beat for three minutes. The delivery and cleverness Wayne shows here is unfortunately missing from most of the album. The closest Lil Wayne gets to this level of rapping is on the other Cool & Dre produced track “God Bless Amerika.”
“God Bless Amerika” is a standout track with pessimistic lyrics and a slowed down Lil Wayne not relying on the cliché rap themes that are present throughout the majority of the album. The simple chorus of “God bless America…this old god-less America,” highlights the personal and cynical tone of the verses. Songs like this with lyrics like “Used to say fuck the police, now I say fuck jail,” are what have been missing since Wayne’s release in 2010. The turn up nature of the album being died down here and on others track like ‘Back To You’ is a welcome change of pace. “Back To You,” one of the better songs on the album samples “Compass” by Jamie Lidell inherently giving the song a reminiscent feel. The choice to allow Lidell’s melancholy voice to serve as the chorus serves as the perfect mixer for Wayne’s crescendo verses Wayne enhances the reflective vibe of the track by vaguely alluding to a lost lover throughout the song. “Got so many hoes I’m hoeing/But she only hoe worth knowing/Yea I do my dirt, but that’s for the flowers to grow in.” This song is a refreshing moment of vulnerability from the heartless Wayne seen elsewhere on the album.
Many things have changed since Lil Wayne was on top of the music world; one of the notable differences is the allure of getting a feature on a Lil Wayne album. The performance of featured rappers has clearly dwindled since his late 2000s run at the top of the rap world. While he used to get every ounce of creativity out of his collaborators; many of those featured on IANAHBII seem to be phoning it in. Juicy J gives a drowsy verse on “Trippy,” Big Sean gives a lackluster effort on “My Homies Still,” and Soulja Boy does his worst Lil B impersonation on “Trigger Finger;” and huge congratulations to Trina for somehow finding a way to make the tone of “Wowzers” even more vulgar. However, on “Beat The Shit,” Lil Wayne did learn the current cardinal rule of making an album that Kendrick Lamar and A$AP Rocky already know very well: don’t let Gunplay get a verse, because he will body your song.
IANAHBII has some moments are just the result of an uninterested Lil Wayne, but there are some that are just flat out misses. “Hello” is the first song that comes to mind. Lil Wayne’s desire to be a rock star didn’t’ die with the universal panning his first attempt at rock received. The Mike Banger produced beat has a 2002 nu-metal feel that sounds very dated. That combined with Shane Heyl yelling “Gold Mouth Gumbo” and other subpar ad-libs in a doofy voice make for a very unpleasant listening experience. Limp Bizkit signing to Cash Money has clearly had adverse affects. Another misstep occurs with “Lay It Down.” The decision to do very little to the initial TNGHT production was a costly mistake, because the beat (old as it is) still shines brighter than any of the verses. Cory Gunz gets the closest to making any sort of lasting impact, but the instrumental still reigns supreme.
Tha Carter I, II, and III and the tens of mixtapes released as well during that period (not to mention the hundreds of song stealing guest features) showcased a rapper with something to prove. Lil Wayne truly felt he was better than any rapper doing it and it didn’t seem he would rest until everyone felt the same as him. However, when that became the case Wayne stopped rapping with that hunger that made him such an unstoppable force. Every project since 2008’s Tha Carter III has been a lackluster performance from the Hollygrove spitter, and I Am Not A Human Being II is no exception. This album is sure to go platinum, and there are still a few songs that can be monster singles; the financial motivation for Lil Wayne to continue making music is there, but it appears it may be his only motivation at this point in his career.