Mixtape Review: Lil Wayne- Dedication 5
- Artist: Lil Wayne
- Title: Dedication 5
- Producer(s): DJ Drama
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/LilTunechi
There was a time, roughly about 5 years ago, that when Lil Wayne made music you stopped what you were doing and listened. Whether it was an album, a mixtape, or a guest spot on a song, the former feature king used to dominate like LeBron James would in your office’s pickup game. However, over the last decade or so, Weezy’s music has aged like a three-year-old rack of Miller High Life, predictably flat and leaving a bad taste in our mouths. It has gotten so bad that Lil Wayne took to Twitter on August 25, stating “noticed I wasn’t nominated nor involved n da MTV VMA’s nor da BET awards… I apologize to my fans and I promise 2 work harder if it kills me.”
After an unsuccessful bout with Tha Carter IV and the experimental I Am Not A Human Being series, Wayne returns to the internet to hopefully flood the streets and crash your computer while you download another one of his mixtapes, arguably the platform where his skills are at their best. Alongside longtime coworker and friend, DJ Drama, the two collaborate for the fifth installment of the Dedication series with Dedication 5. Much like his recent work, Dedication 4 did not live up to the hype, but he hopes to break that trend with this tape and change his public perception. Maybe the fifth time is the charm?
The tape opens with I’m Good where we hear a gentle, but driving falsetto from The Weeknd. Outside of a few adlibs and the flicking sound of his lighter, there’s no Weezy yet. It’s not until the following track, How Dedicated, where we hear more than a few words from Wayne. The skit is his declaration that he’s going to “get on the mixtape, have fun, enjoy myself, say things that I wouldn’t say on my album” which sets the tone for the tape. Whether it’s in his lyrics or in his skits, Lil Wayne knows how to have fun and his generally perverse sense of humor shines throughout most of Dedication 5. Case in point in the Bugatti remix Lil Wayne changes the intoxicating hook to “I woke up in some new poonani.”
In classic Dedication series fashion, Wanye takes a shot at some of the biggest hits of the year, from Started From The Bottom, to New Slaves, to Ain’t Worried About Nothin, ain’t nothing safe from the Louisianimal. He proves so in the third track on the album, Don’t Kill, Weezy’s interpretation of Kendrick Lamar’s smash hit Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe. Basing the song around a beautiful woman, Weezy weaves his fair share of sexual innuendos and humor with lines like, “she says, ‘hit it from the back’, I’m trying to leave that crack alone baby.” Apart from embellishing his sexual prowess, Wayne takes notice of the hatred that seems to be flying at him from all directions. Whether it’s disses from other rappers like Pusha T or losing the favor of his fans and the media alike, Wayne feels the hatred and the pressure from all angles. He’s ready to get to work, but the hatred is clearly getting to him. “Bitch come kill my time/ But bitch don’t steal my shine/ I’m cooking up two quarters, bout’ to get rich or die tryin’/ I got some killas on my side, some kill up in my swisher/ All this hatin’ driving me crazy, take the key out the ignition.”
Out of all the smash hits that Wayne tries to maintain relevancy on, most notably Tunechi takes a shot at the Wu-Tang classic CREAM. It’s a bold move, which more often than not is the kiss of death for most rappers, but it works to his advantage as Lil Wayne finds his footing on a more familiar flow of years past. “25 lighters on the dresser, yes sir/ I ain’t hear that bullshit I’m deafer than leopard/ Somewhere out wherever they find your body severed/ You know they finding niggas guilty like they find the treasure, but get your money/ On occasions I get too wasted, it’s an occasion/ I heard a nurse say, “thank you for being patient.”
Besides hopping on some of the biggest hits, Lil Wayne does add some original material to Dedication 5. One of the biggest and most pleasant surprises came on You Song, which features an unexpected guest spot from Chance The Rapper. Produced by Cam of the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, Nate Fox and Peter Cottontail, the trio procures the perfect canvas for Chance and Wayne to work on, continuing their solid production from the critically acclaimed Acid Rap. As expected, Chance brought his A-game, both in his verse and his singing in the hook, but it feels like more of his track than it does Lil Wayne’s. Chance killed him on his own song, but it wasn’t because Wayne’s was bad, albeit he seemed to have trouble landing on the beat with the early direction of his flow, it was due to an average verse from Lil Wayne.
This was his problem with most of Dedication 5, it’s not that he was bad, in fact it’s some of the better material we’ve heard Weezy in a while, but it just lacked a real “wow” factor. The project is not polarizing in either direction. Lil Wayne is thankful that DJ Drama decided to work with him on Dedication 5, admitting the DJ could have worked with anyone else, and he does seem truly humbled by his dip in popularity. However, he still has yet to retain that power over the microphone like he once had. Maybe he peaked in the mid 2000’s, maybe freestyle mixtapes don’t knock like they used to or maybe he just set the bar too high for himself, but it doesn’t even feel like he tried to do a chin up to pull himself over the bar, he’s just dangling from it. As a review it may seem like a copout to call it an average mixtape, but when an artist puts out average music, their copout deserves an average rating.
At 29 tracks long, an hour and a half’s worth of music and features from T.I., Chance The Rapper, 2 Chainz, The Weeknd and Vado amongst a majority of the Young Money members, Dedication 5 warrants a listen, but it doesn’t demand one. Lil Wayne doesn’t take any real chances on the mixtape and it shows with a mediocre performance. By making a project that doesn’t suck it could be a step in the right direction for Wayne, but unfortunately it’s more of a tiptoe than it is a stride. On Levels Lil Wayne says he hopes he’s alive for Dedication 6 and if claims to work harder, even if it kills him, I don’t think we have to worry about him passing before the next project.
-Review by Carmine Colangelo