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#17 Lil Wayne


Lyrics 7

"Ain't nobody fucking with me man, heatman, ski mask spending next week's cash, he fast." One of the greatest surprises that ever came out of Hip Hop, Wayne hit his prime around Tha Carter and followed it up with the undisputed classic Tha Carter II that officially made him one of rap’s elite. What makes Wayne so unusual is how he’s the only MC ever to become one of the most respected lyricists in the game 8 years into his career, circumstances that have never been repeated in the genre elsewhere. No doubt he was still super nice as a Hot Boy (Turk also snapped on those tapes - do remember), but their content was limited in comparison to where Wayne would go as a solo artist. From 05 to 09 Wayne’s pen was scorching hot, thus even while he’s dramatically cooled off in recent years his track record gives enough reason to believe he’s still the one and only Fireman.

Delivery 7

"Ya bitch in my pipe and she like a crack addict, when she saw me cooking eggs she thought I was back at it" Wayne has always been a flamethrower, yet similar to his lyrics there’s reason to believe he’s lost some of that fire inside. Some would say that to this day his delivery is still immaculate (Wayne’s unique voice can be attributed to that), and that his downfall can be attributed to the complete irrelevance of his lyrics. While nobody can dispute that Wayne isn’t as creative as he once was, we also can’t ignore his overall presence on the mic is two perks away from comatose.

Structure/Songwriting 7

"You been peepin me since I was younger, so young that you even called me your lil brother, but I'm all grown up now I got my own money, I'm married and divorced and daughter is a woman, and guess what? my daughter want another, sister or a brother and you looking like a mother" If this was years ago Wayne’s score in this category would be much higher, however it’s been almost 10 years since he’s released a project with quality records, no matter how good he once was. With that being said Best Rapper Alive, 1st Key, and Let The Beat Build hardly scratch the surface of all the timeless records he used to put out, while 99% of his music post Carter IV has been borderline trash in comparison.

Content/Meaning 8

"Photo phobia, no kodak moments, fed walls with my pictures on it nah, I ain't even in the school yearbook, I don't do too much posing got a cool killer look, career crook get your career took, I'm back like a brassiere hook, bitch cheers" This is maybe the most difficult category to score for Wayne, as on his worst record he talks about nothing, and on his best records he drops jewels the whole world needs to hear. Wayne can really tap into a variety of different themes in his music, yet the reality is that he’s not often compelled to, staying within a comfort zone that holds him back as an MC. Wayne is always New Orleans tho, and for what it’s worth Wayne was his most poignant when a natural/manmade disaster/debacle flooded his city in 06, a travesty that led to records like Tie My Hands & Georgia Bush. If only Wayne could get as inspired more often, he’d live up to his potential as one of the most dynamic MCs in the game.

Self Made 8

"Just a snare and a 808, Weezy baby on the mic, D.O.A., oh, I'd like to thank Kanye, and my ***** Deezle for giving me this diesel." From the beginning Wayne has been under the Cash Money imprint, even despite a well publicized dramatic split from it’s CEO who put him on, yet Wayne has always stood out (even in Hot Boys days) and since that time has solidified himself as his own made man in Hip Hop. On the instrumental side of things he relies on production from Cool & Dre, Mr Bangladesh, T-Mix and many many more.

Image/Branding 10

"Take away the football team, the basketball team, now all we got is me to represent New Orleans." Wayne is one of the most recognizable names in Hip Hop, enough said. Yet if you needed any more confirmation just turn on your television, you’ll see him pouring champagne over Samsung Galaxies in one of the best ad placements in recent memory. Even your mom knows who Lil Wayne is, and really there’s no reason to say more.

Sales 9

"I come from a third world, start rapping in the fourth grade, start rapping in the sixth grade, went Platinum in the 10th grade." Gold and Platinum up and down his resume, at his height Wayne went triple which puts him in a whole nother tax bracket. Most recently while his I Am Not A Human Being series has struggled to go Gold, his latest project with real expectations (Carter IV) went double and sold 964,000 units in it’s first week, the 4th most in Hip Hop history behind his own Carter III that eclipsed a million.

Ability to Rock an Instrumental at a Radio Station 9

"Yeah, I'm a 1-7 scholar, I sun y'all boys you all Kevin Johnson, you see me, with my Marbury posture, I don't play ball I point guard every dollar, I'm goin hard and your girl behind me, and I'm goin so fast that she had to rewind me" All the way back from Rap City but Wayne still good for that, even today if he felt inspired enough Wayne could spit some heat on the spot, yet the reality is that he’s not in that space right now, and these moments moving forward will be few and far between.

Ability to Fuck Up A Rewind Button 9

"For worse or for better, gotta make it past the devil, and everyone who plays the fool says Aaron Neville, but I just play to win so holla back like Heavy Metal" On his best days, his Carter II, Dedication III days, Wayne can annihilate rewind buttons with relative ease, yet on his worst days he makes you want to press SKIP! and neither of those two points are debatable.

Longevity 10

"The heart of New Orleans, thumpin and beatin, livin and breathin, stealin and feedin" Wayne is a living legend and his likeness will be cemented in Hip Hop forever, if not for his specific contributions (Carter II and Carter III are only albums to likely stand the test of time), then for his overall iconic status in where there will never be another… even if there’s bound to be many more thuggers and uzi verts along the way.

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