Lil Wayne is about to go in with this rock album. He’s just announced a rock tour in March for his upcoming guitar experiment Rebirth.
As on-the-fence as I have been with the couple of offerings (see “Prom Queen”) that have surfaced from Wayne’s upcoming rock project, I’m thoroughly rooting for the album. I mean, rock and rap have had a long, storied history together – think Run-D.M.C. circa the ’80s – so there is hope.
It has to work. The self-proclaimed “greatest rapper alive” paired with the music that invented mosh pits, slam dancing and crowd surfing? What could go wrong?
Well… For one, from what I’ve heard, Lil Wayne isn’t coming at this like he did on the Carter II’s “Best Rapper Alive“, where he spat over a electric guitar-laden rap beat. On Rebirth, he won’t be rapping, much. Instead, the Cash Money centerpiece will most likely be mumbling and moaning through an Auto-Tune device, as he likes to do at times (again, see “Prom Queen“). And two, there’s no mention of Travis Barker any where on the project so, the quality of Wayne’s musical accompaniment is up in the air.
Still, this is what hip-hop is all about right? Rappers rap but hip-hop artists step outside of the proverbial box to push the conventions of their music. We need our artists to experiment to see what works, fail or succeed. It keeps the music fresh and inspires others to bend the genre further.
I am curious to see how Weezy’s hardcore hip-hop fans, meaning those that refuse to play Guitar Hero because there are no rap songs in the game’s catalog, will digest his attempt at rock because hip-hop’s infatuation with that lifestyle stops at wallet chains.
Maybe this isn’t about the hood, it’s about artistry. Lil Wayne wants to rock out. And so, the tour is going to markets that are ripe for rock, like Salt Lake City and Oklahoma City, and are leaving out more traditional hip-hop spots like Atlanta. This way Weezy can convert willing fans to his guitar wails and auto-croons without alienating his core base too much.
Besides, he has an avalanche of rap friendly projects in the pipeline. Along with Rebirth, the hardest working man in hip-hop has his anticipated Carter 4 album. He also has a rumored Hot Boyz reunion album, a long overdue Juelz Santana collaboration album and a compilation project with his label Young Money patiently waiting to be released. Oh yeah, and mixtapes. Lots and lots of mixtapes.
- Pharoh Martin