With his legacy album “Tha Carter V” out of the way, Lil Wayne is back experimenting with an array of styles and a maze of wordplay.
It’s hard to know what to expect from Lil Wayne, not to diminish his impact on hip-hop, from his witty one-liners to his prolific mixtape catalog. His past albums such as “Tha Carter III” was a game changer for modern pop rap. On top of it, co-sings helped him change the game, with Nicki Minaj and Drake.
But those days seem to be behind Lil Wayne now. It’s unclear as to what his purpose and direction is at this point. I would even question if he is attempting anything other than just living up to expectations, which has been incrementally lowered by mediocre projects during the past decade.
With the title of “Funeral,” one would think that the record would be some sort of emotional scene change for Wayne. While there are themes of his intro track, the song is almost like a taste of things not to come, because what follows is yet another unfocused Lil Wayne album that is packed with duds and forgettable moments.
On “Know You Know,” featuring 2 Chainz, I would think that a song from them on this album would be them pulling out all the stops, considering the crossovers these two have made in the past. But instead, this track ends up being cut with a bland beat. Afterwards, Wayne doesn’t match his own energy. Instead, he goes on this insane, needless vocal autotune solo.
On the song “Harden,” Wayne goes off about a relationship that is falling apart. The track is dramatic and confessional, or at least it’s trying to be. Vocally, Wayne is really phoning it in, with his voice sounding kind of subdued under some light auto-tune in some passages of the song. This is honestly something I would rather be hearing Drake rap. The song sort of reminds me of Drake crossed with Lil B, if Lil B had no charisma.
I also heard an abundance of the buttery smooth sites and silencers, which was a terrible attempt at a slow jam. The percussion and the synths sound incredibly cheap, which has probably been the tackiest, stiffest, and most soulless instrumental to land on a Wayne record in a long time. Not only that, Wayne spends a good portion of this track just hanging in the background, which is almost pointless.
There is also the edgy “Get Outta My Head,” featuring XXXTENACION, where Wayne is going hard on this track though his lyrics don’t really fit all too well.
He seems to just be going in this direction as an excuse to get an XXX feature. Either way, it’s not something that was done artistically well that Wayne has that much of a history of doing. It’s not much of a sound or style he holds much weight in. It seems almost like a very cringe-worthy attempt to capitalize on a trending sound.
The song “Trust Nobody,” featuring Adam Levine, makes me feel like if this was the kind of track Eminem did, the entire hip-hop community from one wing to the other would be bashing all over it. But for whatever reason, because Wayne does it, it’s either ignored or it just gets a pass. It has a very corny beat and a cheap radio hook. Levine’s vocals are boring, and lyrically Wayne dives into themes of self-doubt, paranoia, and dropping lines, such as “Wakey-wake, I lost some sleep, but I never lost the dream.”
I could go on about every terrible or so-so moment on this project, but this is nothing new for Wayne at this point. It’s normal for Wayne to pack new projects with low effort, low energy, or bad idea cuts. The only redeeming quality is that every once and a while he gives his fans a banger or a good feature. On “Mahogany,” there is a sharp vocal sample, and it’s a performance that shows Wayne at his peak. The flow on this track is relentless, and the rhymes that he packs into just a couple of bars are impressive.
“Dreams” is a dramatic auto-tune cut with a solid chord progression. The whole vibe and style is reminiscent of some of the more heart-wrenching tracks from Kanye’s “808s” album, which was actually great and surprisingly moving.
Wayne manages to sneak in one more hard-hitting cut toward the end with “T.O.,” featuring O.T. Genasis. Even though I think these tracks are great, they are not enough in number to balance out the derivative, boring, and disastrous moments that occur throughout “Funeral.”
“Funeral” plays less like an album and more like a mixtape. Wayne is at his best when he dives into a beat and shows off his technical skill. He still has endless punchlines to punctuate his effortless flow, but the album is massively underwhelmed, and I am not surprised. He still has clear visions and awareness of his place in the hip-hop game. However, Wayne is not a great editor, and listening to his album can get exhausting about half-way through.
I would rate “Funeral” 4 out of 10.
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