Last year, Lil Wayne took us all to the moon, dropping Da Drought 3 in late 2007, The Carter III last June, and a seemingly endless stream of verses between. He wasn’t just on fire, he was fire.
Then 2009 hit like a hangover, with confusing Kanye and Jay-Z albums and lots of auto–tune. Something seemed rotten in the state of hip-hop, and nobody could tell if rap was dying or if we were killing it. All the while, our hero, Wayne, seemed more content with rockstar dreaming in that infamous purple haze. He gave us Drake, and a few nuts lines, but be it the syrup or the guitar playing, Wayne’s year has been generally underwhelming. Who was going to save us?
Right on time, Mixtape Weezy is back with No Ceilings, his long spoken of official mixtape, leaking early yesterday morning, and disbanding any lingering concerns. Whether or not he’s put down the cup, he’s in full form, going absolutely “nimrod” over beats borrowed from Gucci Mane, The-Dream, the Black Eyed Peas (apparently popular amongst the Carters?), and of course, Jay-Z.
1 Swag Surfin’ 2 Ice Cream Paint Job 3 D.O.A. 4 Interlude 5 Wasted 6 Watch My Shoes 7 Break Up (Ft. Short Dawg & Gudda Gudda) 8 Banned From TV 9 Throw It In The Bag 10 I Think I Love Her (Ft. Tyga & Shanell) 11 Interlude 2 (Ft. Shanell) 12 Wetter 13 I’m Good (Ft. T-Streets) 14 Make Her Say (Ft. Jae Millz) 15 Run This Town 16 I Gotta Feeling 17 Outro
Wayne really steps his game up when he takes on the elder Carter’s beats, “Run This Town” and “D.O.A.” (complete with a Jay-Z drop at the end). He’s taken on Jay-Z in the past, and as he did then (“I must be Lebron James if he’s Jordan”), he is again quick to squash any comparisons: “Younger Hov, there ain’t no comparing me/ I just cleared that up/ moment of clarity.” These are nice nods of reverence, but when Wayne takes the ceilings off on these songs, we are reminded of the the name-checking, obscure-pop-reference dropping, free-associative Mixtape Weezy that changed the game. And that’s a big deal.
Impending jail time makes likes like “T.I. hold your head up” or “F is for forensics” hang heavy, but Cellblock Weezy or not, this tape leaves plenty to rejoice over. Maybe this album can’t offer an answers in the death of rap debate, but it does seem to suggest an alternative solution. This mixtape feels huge, and it’s not because he’s saving rap. It’s because he took the ceilings off: “Young Money baby, and the building grows. As we look up, where did the ceilings go.”