Lil Weezy Ana Vol.1
Young Money Entertainment
ou are not listening to this mix tape for Curren$y, Mack Maine, or Raw Dizzy. You are going to do your best to evade their crude attempts at cribbing Lil’ Wayne’s triple-beat lines and avoid their brand-heavy similes (“fresher than a Febreze bottle”). You are here to hear Wayne flesh out more of his phonetic and poetic arsenal over seasonal potboilers (“Grew Up a Screw Up,” “Show Me What You Got”). You are here to forget about Like Father, Like Son.
Thankfully, each passing month has made Wayne a more irresistible force in morphology. He now can leave unbroken one-hundred bars of punctured spondees, trochees, and iambs, flicking accents on-and-off like a light switch.
On 2003 Tha Carter’s “Snitch” he was riding only one or two vowels for entire verses at a time (e.g. the unrounded, short “a”: “Can’t no loose lips get on my ya-cht / I leave pla-ya ha-ters at the dock / Watch!”), on Dedication 2 he diced up lines into pebbled, single-breath fragments (“Murder scene / Tape it off / Red rum / Tomato sauce”) on throwaway remixes. Wayne has kept pushing, almost to the point of inanity, the boundaries of his flow.
Lil Weezy Ana sees Wayne continuing on this dogged quest to warp each verse he spits. “Famous” flips from ten seconds of plosives to ten seconds of easy vowel combinations and downright suburban imagery “dental plan … / mental plan… / don’t bring the giant out of the gentle man.” The references, too, seem sharper. He’s becoming the Marianne Moore of rap, employing game, irresistible animal imagery—“The major bison of the boulevard / The barracuda fighting off the fishin’ rod”—as he chisels away at bite-sized stanzas.
It feels redundant to say about a “label” mixtape, especially one so nakedly a one-star affair, but there’s just simply too much slop here. Lil Weezy Ana is good for what it is—and what it set out to do. The label got a flock of greenhorns next to Lil’ Wayne for a moment to see what they were capable of. (They’re eminently forgettable.) The same standards will not apply to Carter III. For Wayne to win over his sizeable detractors, satiate his believers, and justify terabytes of vaguely intelligent discourse, III is going to have to be a decathlon of tricks: all the usual sputtering verbal fireworks, well-timed use of the teary-eyed, weary Puck persona, two or three exceptional, conventional dramatic monologues (never Wayne’s strong suit), a five-star club virus, zero skits, minimal self-praise, and a minimum of three, separate, astute moments of snobbery (grumpy critics enjoy grumpy artists).
With an apparent five-step album sequence at stake, mix tapes like these are an eventuality. If Wayne is ambitious enough to have all of these Carter entries make sense together, there’s going to be a decent pause in release dates between albums. Mix tapes keep one’s name in the trade papers and blogs for minimal overhead. Albums will always, correctly, be regarded as higher. Lil’ Wayne, a man who’s reputation currently floats on a handful of resilient, muscularly uneven tapes, knows this too. He’s just keeping his eye on the clock: “Ring the alarm / Tha Carter II was nice, but the third time’s the charm.”