Lil Wayne’s Gangsta Grillz: Dedication mixtape series have been a staple in the rapper’s arsenal throughout his career. Alongside Da Drought series, the two became the defining building blocks that gained him the reputation as “Mixtape Weezy”, instrumental in his rise to becoming the biggest rapper in the world during the late ’00s.
As difficult as it is to admit being a huge Weezy fan, Lil Wayne in 2013 seems to be a shadow of his former self: defanged, distracted and irrelevant. One can’t blame the YMCMB co-owner to be resting on his laurels, but it’s getting harder to defend the dude when he’s obsessed with his shitty skateboarding label and his music is so bad that his diss tracks aren’t even worth a response. His new album IANAHB2 had a few glimmers of former greatness in the form of Rich as Fuck and Gunwalk, but does his newly released Dedication 5 show hopes that Lil Wayne could be regaining form? Well… yes and no.
In a sense, Weezy has stripped it back to his once bulletproof formula of flipping the hottest tracks of the year, and in this respect he does nails the selection and reappropriating the original’s flow. The raps are passable (unlike Dedication 4), and features like Chance the Rapper and Vado shows that he’s not just putting on his weed carriers on his mixtape features. All in all it’s an average mixtape. He even throws in some Triggerman as a nod to New Orleans Bounce, the backbone to pretty much every Cash Money song since its inception.
But the thing is an average Weezy mixtape just doesn’t quite cut it in 2013. I know that fans always yearn to have “the old Wayne” back, but I don’t think we’re ready to accept that 2007 Wayne just doesn’t quite sound as good as it used to. Especially when this year alone we’ve had stellar releases in the form of Acid Rap, Doris and Yeezus among others that push a rap fan’s palate further than ever before, making Lil Wayne sound all the more bland. There’s nothing harder to watch than a once-great athlete fall from form, and to see Lil Wayne desperately trying to clutch onto relevancy while the rest of the pack leaves him in the dust is tough to witness. Da Drought 3 will forever be on heavy rotation in my iTunes, but maybe it’s time for Lil Wayne to either evolve like his more successful contemporaries or to fall back on his large, large piles of cash and leave the rapping to the hungrier young’ns.
Download Dedication 5 here.