Lil Wayne is the undisputed champion of the mixtape genre. Few would argue with the assertion that in the brief but substantial era of hip-hop, there has never existed an emcee with more classic mixtapes under their belt than the dreaded 5-foot 6-inch Martian from New Orleans. The list of Wayne’s classic mixtape is impressive and exhaustive, including Dedication, Dedication 2, Tha Drought 3, No Ceilings, and now, appropriately titled, the post-jail-bid effort, Sorry 4 the Wait.
The mixtape format is sincerely dear to Wayne. Despite a solid early run with Cash Money Records and the Hot Boys group, Wayne was mostly overshadowed by his peers, such as B.G. and Juvenile. Once these heavyweights left the label (not on good terms), Wayne rose to the challenge of keeping his label relevant. The “new” Wayne, which many critics describe as the artist’s post-500 Degreez material, released Tha Carter in late 2004. The noticeable improvement in lyrical ability and flow dumbfounded critics and captivated an even wider audience. Many fans familiar with Wayne’s previous material speculated and pondered this new turn of events. When did Wayne become a premiere rapper? How did he get this good all of a sudden? And most importantly, was it a fluke?
These questions were answered with the release of the first Dedication mixtape. With a reckless regard for rapper life, Wayne murdered every beat on the tape, causing fans to forget about the original songs altogether. Similar barbaric lyrical assaults on subsequent releases firmly established Wayne as the greatest rapper to ever spit on another artist’s beat. Flash-forward nearly a decade later from the release of Tha Carter, and Wayne is now the biggest rapper in the world as statistics will indicate, because it is scientifically impossible to go an entire day without hearing him in one form or another.
Wayne’s meteoric rise to the hip-hop hall of fame has included few obstacles, but his one-year prison stint threatened to temporarily eradicate him from the minds of many casual hip-hoppers. However, in Pac-esque fashion, Wayne has unleashed a multitude of new material since his prison release date, and regained his spot as most-requested emcee. This time around, Wayne had a lot to prove, a perilous position foreign to him since 2006 when Tha Carter 2 dropped. After two sub-par album releases, Rebirth and I Am Not a Human Being, Wayne was anxious to remind everyone who had forgotten how lethal he could be with sixteen bars, a blunt, and some pink or purple drank (of course depending strictly on how he mixes that shit).
The song that kicks off the tape is the predictable “Tunechi’s Back.” There are many notable lines here as Wayne spits over Meek Millz’ “2pac’s Back”, but none seem to stick post-listen, and at best the track acts a warm-up to what comes next. The second song, however, is “Rollin,” and in a mere three minutes Wayne aggressively proves that he can still rip the mic on occasion. Other songs where this fact is exemplified is “Racks” and “Gucci Gucci,” the latter of which is a blessing in disguise to anyone who desires to blast that monster of a beat in public with more manly sentiments attached. Moreover, “Sure Thing” is certainly a gem. Wayne expertly transforms Miguel’s R&B smash hit into a smooth hip-hop groove, and this is undoubtedly a case wherein Wayne manages to improve on a popular song, even if Twist made him do it. However, the shining star of the tracklist has to be the song named after the mixtape itself, “Sorry 4 tha Wait.”
There are simply too many quotables in the track to name, but suffice it to say, Wayne kills this shit. Adele’s mildly appealing/greatly annoying “Rolling in the Deep” receives new life here after being pummeled into submission by radio jocks. Wayne destroys the beat with optimal lyricism and a flow so imbued with energy that it could resurrect dinosaurs or even Winona Ryder’s career.
Tha Carter 4 turned out to be a great disappointment, but it is refreshing to know that Wayne is far from finished, and hopefully, with the grace of God, we will get more first-rate mixtapes from him in the future.