A terrible misstep into rock territories for the superstar rapper.
Dwayne Carter, known to millions as Lil Wayne, has become something of a music industry mogul recently, signing the much-talked-about Nicki Minaj and Drake to his record label, Young Money. Ranked as one of the highest earning hip hop artists in 2009, it seemed like the cough syrup-supping star had finally arrived. But when time came to create his new album, Auto-Tune and rock riffs got the better of him, and not in a good way.
2008’s Tha Carter III, released to widespread acclaim, set Carter’s chosen moniker in stone as one of the best MCs heard in a very long time; it sold over a million copies in its first week. His flow was nothing short of amazing, and the production skills on show were of a comparable, complementary quality. But with Rebirth he has switched that successful formula, which catapulted him to A-list status, to one that presents him as a wannabe rock star. And one that nobody wants to hear at that.
American Star is an awful introduction, and sadly it sums up the overall sound of this album: a lot of guitars, drums and plenty of Auto-Tune usage. Guest vocals from Young Money-signed RnB chanteuse Shanell only contribute further to its downfall; she also features on the equally terrible second track, Prom Queen. Paradice, on the other hand, is a number that brings out the best in Lil Wayne: you get to hear his deep lyrics about coming from nowhere to becoming a worldwide star, and living in his own version of paradise. The track is carried by a soft drum beat, unlike much of the album, which is full of such noise that you can't hear a word he's trying to say.
Other standout tracks include On Fire, on which Carter samples Amy Holland’s She’s on Fire (from the Scarface soundtrack), and Drop the World, featuring Eminem. Which means that there are three tracks that make the grade – a poor return from a 14-track collection crafted by an artist who’s not simply established, but a superstar in the right circles.
There’s nothing wrong with experimentation, and a handful of rock tracks here could have worked well. But to make a whole album based around a sound Lil Wayne is so inexperienced with is simply outrageous.