Lil Wayne - I Am Not a Human Being II Review
Posted by Jeremy Thomas on 03.26.2013
Lil Wayne is back with his tenth studio album, I Am Not a Human Being II! But can the album put Wayne back on top after a rocky few years? 411's Jeremy Thomas checks in with his review!
1. "IANAHB" (5:38)
2. "Curtains" (ft. Boo) (4:31)
3. "Days and Days" (ft. 2 Chainz) (3:13)
4. "Gunwalk" (ft. Gudda Gudda) (4:31)
5. "No Worries" (ft. Detail) (3:41)
6. "Back to You" (5:29)
7. "Trigger Finger" (ft. Soulja Boy) (4:32)
8. "Beat the Shit" (ft. Gunplay) (4:28)
9. "Rich as Fuck" (ft. 2 Chainz) (3:43)
10. "Trippy" (ft. Juicy J) (4:23)
11. "Bitches Love Me" (ft. Drake and Future) (4:13)
12. "Romance" (4:20)
13. "God Bless Amerika" (5:03)
14. "Wowzers" (ft. Trina) (3:45)
15. "Hello" (ft. Shane Heyl) (4:02)
As you have probably heard, Lil Wayne was recently hospitalized due to a seizure. While the initial reports say it was related to recreational use of codeine-heavy cough syrup, Wayne's label head Bryan "Birdman" Williams said that the whole thing was due to exhaustion. Considering the rapper's prolific career that is not as unbelievable as it may seem. Wayne wrote his first rap song in 1991 and since then he hasn't looked back; from his first studio LP Tha Block Is Hot all the way through his ninth album in 2011, Tha Carter IV, the man born Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr. has been in a constant state of making music when he's not doing work for his own label Young Money, skateboarding or getting in trouble with the law. Unfortunately, Wayne has also found another downside to constant work that doesn't have anything to do with seizures: overexposure. While Wayne was once one of the more critically-acclaimed artists in the rap game, a stream of constant guest appearances on other rapper's tracks and the far less-than-stellar response to his rock album Rebirth and Tha Carter IV have led to the belief that he is on a downward slide. In an effort to combat that, Wayne has gone back to the name of his last well-received album in 2010's I Am Not a Human Being, hoping to reclaim his spot at the top of the game with I Am Not a Human Being II.
Lil Wayne is no stranger to making "album sequels," as his dedication to Tha Carter as a franchise has shown. However, like many movie sequels, the Carter albums have progressively been becoming just rehashes of the same material. Sequel-itis also infects I Am Not a Human Being II. There is some hope here; while the opening track "IANAHB" begins with the oft-heard sound of Wayne taking a toke of a pipe, it then shifts into an impressive piano performance. It isn't long though before Wayne comes in with his lyrics and thematically, it's all the same. The very first lyrics on the album are Wayne spitting, "I'm in the crib butt-nekkid bitch/she says my dick could be the next black president." And thus begins a sixty-five minute long collection of semi-clever metaphors for sex and drugs. The emphasis in the last part of that sentence is "semi." While Weezy once used to at least have an inspired, cheeky sense to his lyrical hedonism, he now seems to think that lines like "Had a dream that my dick turned to Megatron/But my girl was sleeping with Decepticons" are clever. The only thing that differentiates this track from any other Lil Wayne track is the piano arrangement, and that's only for one song before we go right back into standard Auto-Tuned rhymes over a club-friendly track for "Curtains." The most creative thing that can be said about this Boo-featuring track is the fact that he rhymes "Go-Kart," "Mozart" and "hoes hard" in one inspired line; the rest is half-thought out metaphors for genitals or tired rehashes of the same kinds of content we've heard from him before.
You would expect that, even with someone who has fallen as far off their game as Wayne, the quality would pick up at some point. Sadly, the album takes a downward turn from there as 2 Chainz hops on the LP for "Days and Days," a weak track in which neither Weezy nor Chainz is able to deliver anything of quality. At one point Chainz says "Got your bitch on all fours/It's not doggy-style, I call it froggy-style." That competes with "2 Chainz, my first chain had a twin" for the lamest lyric on this particular track. One could continue to bring examples of the uninspired rhymes and half-hearted production efforts of Wayne and his crew here, but the point is that it's all the same and the beats are too generic for the most part to make the LP even particularly serviceable as club music.
Wayne is so busy showing up on other people's tracks, getting into skateboarding and running the increasingly-large stable of artists at Young Money that he just doesn't have time for his own music anymore, so he relies heavy on his guest stars; all but four of the fifteen tracks have a featured artist on it including the likes of Drake, 2 Chainz (on two tracks, no less), Future, Soulja Boy, Three 6 Mafia's Juicy J and Trina. In almost all cases, it seems that the bigger the guest the lazier that Wayne gets. Just look at "Bitches Love Me," better known by the more radio-friendly title "Love Me." With Drake and Future showing up he doesn't even feel the need for his own lyrics, throwing in a reference to the late Aaliyah with "Cause I really need somebody/So tell me youíre that somebody." That could be considered an homage in respect to an R&B artist gone too soon if it weren't used as a quote for the fictional woman in the song who Wayne is busy dogging and telling "Baby, just make me cum/Then donít make a sound." Meanwhile, the less said about "Trigger Finger" and Soulja Boy's contribution, the better. He even recycles the dreaded pseudo-rapcore sound of Rebirth for his last track, "Hello," featuring a cringe-worthy contribution from Shane Heyl.
Conversely, when Wayne is standing on his own you have a chance to see flashes of the rapper that he used to be. On "Back to You," which uses a sample from Jamie Lidell's "Compass" for its hook, Wayne sounds inspired and his flow has an urgency that you don't hear from most of the rest of the album. It's the highlight of the LP and while it still covers the same kind of thematic material it has a different twist to it; yes, Wayne is still spitting rhymes like "Should I call somebody else/Cuz girl it's almost twelve, and this dick won't suck itself," but Wayne's energy and the fact that the lyrics are at least focused on one woman and not a whole stable make it interesting on an LP full of dull repetition. Similarly, on "God Bless Amerika" Wayne dares to get a bit philosophical in-between his euphemisms for sex and it actually makes for a solid track. Sadly the same can't be said for all of Wayne's solo tracks; on "Romance" he's back to the same old thing with lines like the Folgers-inspired "The part of wakin' up/is breakfast after a nut."
And that is the biggest problem with I Am Not a Human Being II. With fifteen tracks (and three more if you wish to subject yourself to the deluxe version), you would think that Wayne has a lot to say. Certainly it's more than most LPs have and at sixty-five minutes it's a fair bit longer too. But it doesn't take long before coming to the sad realization that Wayne doesn't have anything to say; he just has a lot of different ways to say nothing at all and each of those ways is remarkably dull at this point.
Standout Tracks: "Back to You," "God Bless Amerika"
Skippable: "Days and Days," "Trigger Finger," "Bitches Love Me," "Romance," "Hello"
The 411: Lil Wayne is someone who clawed and scratched his way to the top of the rap game years ago and hasn't had much worth saying since. On I Am Not a Human Being II, Wayne continues his exploration of slightly different rhymes for the same content: sex, drugs and guns. There's nothing wrong with those topics and there's certainly nothing wrong with good club music, but what we have here is nothing even approaching "good." Wayne would be better off sticking to his development of other artists and spending the rest of his time on whichever pipe or half-pipe he feels like at the moment, because he's said so much in his willingness to feature on every track he'll be allowed on that he just has nothing to offer anymore, either lyrically or musically.