ALBUM SCORE: 7.0
When the four-time Grammy award winning wordsmith and rap royalty Lil Wayne announced he was releasing a new album entitled 'Funeral', social media went into a frenzy. Makes sense. It's been two years since the release of the long awaited 'Carter V', which broke several streaming records to become the second largest streaming week for an album ever. Since then, we have all anticipated a fresh follow up.
As a huge fan of Lil Wayne myself, I was more than eager to hear this new project. Especially because of all the legal issues that surrounded 'Carter V' which as a result, caused the release to be delayed for several years. This unfortunate delay caused the entire album to sound a bit out of date in my opinion. The thought of a fresh, hot off the press Weezy album seems like the perfect anecdote. Funeral is the representation that we hoped to receive from Wayne. Fresh thoughts, rhymes, and the unique lyricism that has helped Wayne stay at the top of the genre since 1999.
The first thought that went through my head as I hit the play button on my iPhone was not only how happy I was to hear the album start with an epic string arrangement and melancholic piano melodies, but the sense of nostalgia brought on by the signature Weezy lighter flicks, which he came to own during his unforgettable mixtape run. I off the rip, was not pleased with the level of reverb on the vocals, but the charm of Wayne's lyrical pictures and patterns soon soothed my ears as well as my imagination. 'Mahogany' (track 2) was a sure moment of pure excitement and fandom for me as Wayne rapped seamlessly over the Mannie Fresh and Sarcastic Sounds produced track. Oh yea, Lil Wayne has arrived, again.
As I continued listening through the album, I became a bit uneasy with the lack of concepts and mediocre production. One thing is unquestionable though, Wayne is RAPPING HIS ASS OFF. This album may lack the commercial appeal of a 'Carter III' but Wayne keeps the bars up, and with 24 songs in total, it's surely something there for anybody. The problem comes in when you factor in the fast-moving minds of the social media generation looking for a great chorus to hook on to and make their own. I can't think of one time I said to myself "what an amazing hook." As I got toward the end of the album, it began to feel more like mixtape Weezy than Lil Wayne in album mode. Considering all he's been through with his label in the recent past, any Wayne fan can stomach the superstar rapper getting some of his edgy ideas off. I enjoy hearing Wayne get back in the groove, but I can only hope that he continues to sharpen that commercial appeal & ear for production that got him to where he is today.
All in all, this album is pretty good. A bit more than tolerable. Wayne is doing what he does best, but as far as as the wholeness, esthetic and integrity of a classic album, this it lacks. Though this does not nearly tarnish any of his past achievements or accolades, Wayne maybe just wanted us to get a raw look at himself and his pen 20 years into his remarkable career.
-Taj Torrence, Bowman & Harker