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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Lil Wayne has a little fun

Published: March 28, 2008
Section: Arts, Etc.

diverse-city-3-28-08_final_page_2_image_0003.jpgI’m not the biggest fan of the Southern craze. I’m not hating; the South is definitely doing their thing right now. You can’t listen to 97.1 in N.Y. or 94.3 up here in Massachusetts for half an hour without hearing some catchy beat, claps somewhere in the background of the syncopated melody, and possibly even instructions on how to do the dance associated with the song. I feel trapped.

When it comes to Southern artists that are on top right now, Lil Wayne is not my favorite person either. Granted, the man is a master of metaphor and quite possibly a punch-line prodigy, but he’s so flipping cocky. Best rapper alive? Come on! People who arguably are the best rappers alive (by my count Jay-Z, Nas, Eminem in no particular order) have hinted at the position numerously but have never actually come out and claimed the title so brashly. Lil Wayne actually has a song called “Best Rapper Alive”!

His abrasive nature, for some, is the very thing that attracts them to Wayne. The combination of Lil Wayne’s great lyrics and his “take no prisoners” demeanor has earned this New Orleans born and bred rapper a solid fan base in the South as well as the East Coast.

Speaking from experience, when I went to my hometown of Brooklyn to see my high school professors I couldn’t go two blocks without hearing about some praiseworthy verse from the latest mix-tape recited by some 14-17 year old and once again, I felt trapped.

Now logically, if you combine two things that I hate, the result should be something that I can’t be in the presence of without gagging, especially if it’s Lil Wayne deciding to make one of those “Snap Your Fingers” type songs I so abhor. The thing is, however, that I really don’t make much sense. And so my self contradictory praise of the jerk begins.
Lil Wayne’s latest hit, provocatively entitled “Lollipop” (yeah, he’s not talking about candy) goes in a totally different direction than his former musical endeavors. Instead of the lyrical ferocity and witty quips that keep us hating Lil Wayne without ever really being able to “hate on” him, we are instead given a mash-up, somewhere between more traditional southern rap lyrics, as opposed to Lil Wayne’s more east coast style, with some synthesized vocals layered on by Wayne himself and Static Major, a new artist featured on the song. We even have some R&B ballads coming from the New Orleans rapper as he comes to the microphone looking like some warped version of Rick James.

Now for all the concerned hip-hop heads out there, there are some vital questions that must be addressed. What does this weird musical amalgam mean? Is hip hop really dead considering that Lil Wayne, a solid rap lyricist, is making R&B / pop songs now?

No, not really. I personally would rather see the positive aspect of such a new sound. The current wave of willingness, in artists to be open to new genres of music and types of musical delivery is just the breath of fresh air that hip-hop needs to revive itself.

“Lollipop” comes, no doubt, as a bit of a response to veteran rapper Snoop Dogg’s hit “Sensual Seduction.” In this song, Snoop, a gangsta rapper out of Long Beach, California, who is quite well known for the authenticity behind his lyrics and stories, flips the script on everyone by singing, through a Talk Box, a machine which gives vocals the digital sound that artist T-Pain is now known for, and recreating the 80’s feel of artists like Prince and Rick James.

I personally think that “Lollipop” is just another step in artists opening themselves up to new venues of creativity. While I may not like Lil Wayne very much, one must give him due credit for the bold move of dropping his guard and breaking from the gangsta image long enough to make a really catchy, fun song.

The fact that Lil Wayne had fun with this one is even more apparent in the music video. Of course it involves all of the motifs of rap music videos from the curvaceous women to the club scene contained within a limo-sized Hummer automobile, but there are also imitation dice in the shape of lollipops and loosely worn zoot-suit like outfits.

When one sees Lil Wayne on top of a moving vehicle, in a tight leather jacket, playing the guitar riffs that company the chorus (Lil Wayne co-produced the track as well) it is evident that in his mind he is Michael Jackson, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis and every other pop icon rolled into one. The on-top-of-the world attitude of the video driven by Lil Wayne’s swagger is infectious and the energy and charisma that he brings to the video and the song itself will grab anyone immediately.

As with almost all of his work, the emotional investment of Lil Wayne, the artist, into a track and its video are something to be admired, despite what one may feel about Lil Wayne the person. Was going from lyrical monster to car surfing singer something of a risky move? It definitely was. But Lil Wayne doesn’t seem too worried.

In a recent interview with Blender magazine Lil Wayne states, “I’m not a lollipop rapper, but this track is cold. [I know that dudes] are gonna hate this one…Ugly dudes that is” I guess I should consider myself handsome then, not that didn’t already know that. Oh no, he’s getting to me.