Monday, May 5, 2014
"Believe Me" ft. Drake- Lil Wayne
Depending on who you talk to, Lil Wayne saw his high-water mark come and go at one of at least five points in his 15-year career. There's Tha Carter II camp that argues the '05-effort placed Wayne at his "unequivocal high point." Others take Wayne's claim of "I'm the best rapper alive" on the DJ Drama-mixtape Dedication 2 as gospel. A fervent congregation (that I personally attend) continues to worship at the pill-popping, Harry and the Henderson's watching altar of Da Drought 3. Outfits like Rolling Stone posit that when Wayne was "phoning home" on the commercial smash Tha Carter III he had conquered the rap landscape and it was time for him to head back to Mars. Finally there's a loyal fan base for the decade-ending No Ceilings, which several of my friends hold membership in. Having no idea about Wayne "flying with the fishes," they were firmly convinced the beat-jacking tape was Weezy F. Baby at his most dazzlingly brilliant.
If you notice, none of those supposed pinnacles have occurred in this decade. While the 10's haven't been commercially disappointing for Wayne, they've been critically dismal. As Tha Carter IV broke iTunes download records, writer's like the Chicago Tribune's Greg Kot wrote the LP was held back by "repetitive subject matter." I Am Not A Human Being II was even more divisive; debuting at number 2 on the Billboard charts and receiving the worst Metacritic marks for a Weezy album since the abysmal Rebirth.
Though the eerily minimalist Boi-1da/Vinylz production "Believe Me" doesn't hit any of those previous high points, it's far from the valleys of Rebirth and engenders conversation about Wayne being "back." Mr. Carter and Drake tend to sound terrific together and "Believe Me" isn't any different. Tiptoeing over a beat ostensibly culled from The Conjuring's music box, Drizzy proclaims he's doing "One Direction numbers" and promises to put you "down quick" if you dare step to his big brother. Emboldened by his protégé’s support, Wayne's free to walk away with enough Dead Presidents to "leave a coffin vacant." Free-associating has long been his calling card, but he keeps it surprisingly restrained here. When he speaks of a "cold day in hell" the nightmare continues long after the track’s electronic twinkles die off. "Gone," he announces at the end. If Tha Carter V really is his final release, songs like "Believe Me" will make fans of any-era Wayne miss him all the more.