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Has the ‘Best Rapper Alive’ lost it?

Tom de Groot, USA TODAY – December 10, 2014

He has been active in the American rap scene since 1996, he has 155 nominations on his name of which he won 64, including four Grammy Awards and ten BET Awards. In 2012 he passed the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley as the male artist with the most entries in the Billboard Hot 100 chart with an astonishing number of 109 songs. 10850847_10204429581372700_715395552_nAlso he has an estimated net worth of 140 million dollars (according to celebritynetworth.com) and is the CEO of his own label, Young Money Entertainment. I am talking about Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr., better known as rapper Lil Wayne.

A little more than two weeks ago, on 23 November, Lil Wayne performed on the 2014 American Music Awards. His performance was criticized to be one of the worst of that night by the popular culture magazine ‘Rolling Stone’ stating;
Lil Wayne performing at the AMA’s

“It was hard to believe this was once the most innovative MC in hip-hop, mugging in front of giant screens projecting fake fires (song title: “Start a Fire”) and meandering around the stage like a lost child. It’s pretty clear the plan for this performance was “we don’t have a plan”.”

Has rapper Lil Wayne lost his talents that once made him one of the best rappers alive?

I have to admit that, since his single ‘Go DJ’ was released in 2004, I became a fan of probably the most hated rapper in the United States, or even the world. Being a so called ‘Weezy Fan’, critique like the one given by the music magazine Rolling Stone somehow hurts a little every time you read it. This however does not take away the fact that I realize that Lil Wayne in 2014 is not the Lil Wayne of 2008, the year in which singles and collaborations as ‘Lollipop’, ‘Swagga Like Us’, ‘A Milli’, ‘My Life’, ‘Got Money’, ‘Mrs Officer’ and ‘Let It Rock’ were released, any longer.

In the ten years in which I have been a Lil Wayne fan I have followed the rapper quite closely in order to stay up-to-date with his latest music. I would say that especially the last six years ‘Weezy’ made up a large part of my music playlist and I faithfully downloaded all his albums and mixtapes, but let’s be very honest, Wayne had his peak already quite a while ago.

When I attended Lil Wayne’s concert in the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam (the Netherlands) on 21 October 2013, I was not sure what to expect from his show. I, of course, was very much aware of the fact that Lil Wayne is not the best live performer, however if you are a true fan you want to see your idol perform in real-life. Looking back at that concert, it wasn’t necessarily that he performed horribly bad, the thing that disappointed me is that he performed his bestsellers such as ‘Lollipop’ and ‘A Milli’ for approximately a minute and a half each. Furthermore everything that Wayne said in between songs was prepared and probably exactly the same as in previous performances in other European cities, making it feel fake and untrustworthy.

It seemed that many USA Today readers shared my opinion that Wayne had his peak in his music career between the year 2008 and 2011, in which, according to many readers, the rapper brought out the best pieces of rap music. USA Today reader Daniel Miller responded to the online opinion panel on USATODAY.com by saying:

“I liked Wayne’s music back in the time of Tha Carter III (2008), then in 2011 Tha Carter IV was released; an awesome list of songs, the music he made in the previous three years however was not very good in my opinion”.

Another visitor of the opinion panel argued that since Lil Wayne established his own clothing line named ‘TRUKFIT’, the rapper’s music as well as his video clips disappointed her;

“Since Weezy began with Trukfit, his music became too commercially focused on selling his clothing line, such a shame!” (Chloe Williams).

I have to admit that I very much agree with Chloe Williams. In January 2012, Lil Wayne established his own clothing brand named TRUKFIT, an acronym for “The Reason U Kill For IT” (according to lilwaynehq.com). Right after the skater-like apparel debuted in 2012 TRUKFIT (logically) started to become an often mentioned as well as shown topic in his lyrics and music videos. It seemed that all of a sudden Lil Wayne wanted to be recognized as a skater, yes, I’m not even joking, a skater.

Maybe the once “most innovative MC in hip-hop” realises himself that he cannot fulfil his role as one of the greatest rap artists on earth any longer. I think Lil Wayne is very much aware that his repertoire of latest rap songs isn’t as good as they used to be. The now aged 32 years old rapper has been passed by more innovate rappers such as the incredibly talented Kendrick Lamar and others. Wayne once ruled the world with his popular songs and successful collaborations with almost every well-known singer/rapper you could think of, now it is time to pass the buck to someone else. According to Wayne himself, this year his eleventh and last studio album will be released namely ‘Tha Carter V’.

“It’s the final Carter album. It’s stopping at five. I didn’t smile when I said it…I plan on it being my final solo album.” (Lil Wayne, hiphopdx.com)

Let’s just hope Wayne is able to bring out one more hip-hop masterpiece with his ‘Tha Carter V’, before he retires. There’s only one but: he has to take his time a little more to indeed deliver a ‘Carter’ worthy album, because if the four singles currently released are the best the album has to offer, it will be anything but a good one.

Tom_Groot_group_b

2nd year IBCoM student

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