Lil’ Wayne raises the roof with “No Ceilings” mixtape
Lil Wayne delivered in true trick-or-treat fashion this Halloween, posting his “No Ceilings” mix tape to his website for all his fans to download for free. Like his enormously popular 2008 release, “Tha Carter III,” this album brings forth the consistencies of Lil Wayne’s music: contagious beats and clever, yet inflammatory, lyrics.
By now, most people will either take Lil Wayne’s music or leave it, which is why Wayne is one of the most polarizing artists in mainstream music. Because most listeners have pre-existing notions about Lil Wayne and his music the question is then begged: why bother reviewing his new mix tape?
Despite his excellence inside the studio, Lil Wayne has occasionally proved that he is capable of making bad choices musically, as demonstrated in his recent cameo in Weezer’s new song, “Can’t Stop Partyin’,” so not all of his songs will be perfect. However, if anyone will get the benefit of the doubt, it is Wayne, who appears on and releases songs with astounding alacrity each year.
Wayne’s newest release begins with a looped trumpet riff, icy synthesizers, and intermittent, hiccupping drums on “Swag Surfin’,” where Wayne exemplifies his controversial character that is demeaning, comedic, irreverent, and always unreserved. During his spasmodic and sometimes rambling flow of quips, he spews racial epithets, highlights gang issues, references baseball players, muses death and reflects on hurricane Katrina.
Offensive or not, the song is incredibly contagious, amped with its high-octane beat, thumping bass and instrumentals that beckon maximum volume. This is the type of sound Lil Wayne aspired for with his abysmal attempts at making a rock song with “Prom Queen.” All of the excitement of the opener then overshadows the slower, auto-tuned “Ice Cream Paint Job,” which boasts a heavy bass line that is sure to crack some car windows when blared.
Lil Wayne also has his own renditions of recent hits, rapping over the instrumentals on songs like the excellent Jay-Z diatribe, “D.O.A.,” and the pervasive singles, “Run This Town” and “Poke Her Face.” Wayne does not lose the energy of the originals and even turns the tracks into successful remakes, especially on his remix of The Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling.”
Removing the lyrical babbling and most of the excessive repetition that plagues an otherwise ebullient pop song, Wayne’s witticisms and unique vocals shine as they are interweaved between The Black Eyed Peas’ choral vocals. The song continually builds and resolves itself prematurely, in a sharp and pleasant contrast to the original version.
Similar to “Tha Carter III,” some songs fall flat on the new album. “I Think I Love Her,” is lethargic and yawningly uninspired while the chorus to “I’m Good” is in dire need of auto-tune to smooth out the flattened vocals. For every song that fails, though, multiple redemptive tracks follow, like the remix to “Throw It in the Bag,” which is as catchy and as single-ready as its original.
Overall, the mix-tape has two consistencies in every song: Wayne’s repetition of the album title and his gratuitous use of marijuana. In every song you can hear him lighting, inhaling and exhaling, which makes one wonder how he has not been in legal troubles as of late. Oh wait…
However, if you can ignore the ethical drawbacks of the content matter of rap music, there is no reason not to invest some time in “No Ceilings.” It won’t put a dent in your wallet, so the only risk is lost time, but judging from the immense popularity of “Farmville” and “Bejeweled Blitz,” it’s safe to say that college students have some time to waste anyway.
Kevin Stevens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.