Lil Wayne, "I Am Not a Human Being II" (Cash Money/Young Money/Universal Republic)
Lil Wayne's "I Am Not a Human Being II" album opens with a familiar sound -- someone's flicking a lighter. It's Weezy's sonic signature, a long-running nod to the weed, women, booze and bravado that has shaped so many of his musical releases, including his latest.
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Now on his 10th album, singles like "No Worries" and the Mike WiLL Made It-produced "(Expletives) Love Me" suggest that Wayne's priorities haven't changed. Luckily for fans, he covers familiar territory with fresh, tweet-worthy punchlines. But if you're looking for storytelling, look elsewhere. Wayne's expertise is in lyrical zingers.
He unleashes a dazzling array on the 2 Chainz-assisted "Rich as (Expletive)," which features a standout, swaggering beat from producer T-Minus. "AK on my night stand, right next to that Bible/But I swear with these 50 shots, I'll shoot it out with 5-0/Pockets gettin' too fat, no Weight Watchers, no lipo," Wayne raps.
His performance on the song may very well convince on-the-fence fans that the YMCMB captain still has passion for his craft. He's entertaining on "Trippy," one of two tracks produced by Juicy J and Crazy Mike. "I got high, and fell asleep loaded/I woke up and got high again/OK, I'm reloaded," Wayne raps, making no apologies for his recreational activities.
He's a sinister presence over the equally sinister beat of the production duo's "Trigger Finger," and seems to laugh about his 2010 eight-month jail stint on "Gunwalk" featuring Gudda Gudda.
The songs are reminders of a more focused Wayne -- a version of the rapper that seems to be absent from tracks like "Curtains," where he phones in lines like "I'm getting cake like I'm Jewish/my (expletive) Drake, he Jewish." He rages through the heavy metal-influenced "Hello," but crossing genres doesn't change the same tired content. And while the hook on "God Bless Amerika" promises a more thoughtful Wayne, his verses don't measure up -- a disappointment considering his still-revered status as the best rapper in the game.
Overall, Wayne meets expectations for Wayne these days -- not saying much (of substance), but giving listeners plenty to talk about.