I Am Not a Human Being is an odd Lil Wayne album. For starters, it’s hardly an album, slated an EP until recently, when it was expanded a few tracks to appear to be a full length. With the titanic impact of his last two Carter installments, anticipation for part 4 is untreatably intense. The idea was to drop that album when Weezy got out of prison, and people within the Young Money camp have been talking up the material for some time. Yet, relatively suddenly, it was announced that Wayne intended to scrap all those cuts to rerecord once he’s out of the joint. Three guesses as to why? The would-be Carter IV was almost certainly recorded around the same time as Rebirth, and likely found Weezy in that same place (the rock-infused title track found here points to this).
So Weezy’s stuck in jail, sobers up, and suddenly thinks, “Wait, why did I record that?” Hence, we’re given this record, with some of those tracks offered up. To be sure, the rock star lifestyle is a large part of who Wayne is, but he’d just flown too high. Just how weakened a rapper this album reveals is interesting, really. The bigwigs at his label apparently didn’t have much even near solid material to work with, judging by several factors, even aside from the short tracklist. The evidence is lying around the album, easy enough to root up. “Single” is the exact same as it was on No Ceilings, pure recycling. “Popular” suffers from a chorus lifted from Young Money hit “BedRock”, looped over and over, killing the track. More interesting is a Drake line on “Gonorrhea”: “Yes, I’m with Young Money, tell them magazines stop askin’ me.” Considering Drake is recognized as YM’s biggest star (Wayne aside) pretty much universally, this cut had to have been recorded in Drizzy’s earliest days with the label. It’s almost surprising: it was easy to dismiss Rebirth as Weezy just being Weezy, but this album makes his slipping undeniable.
So what exactly is actually wrong with the record? The thrown together production doesn’t help – take the annoying chirping of “Gonorrhea” or the guitar riff too unsure of itself to have real impact on the title track. As for Wayne himself, he’s coasting off his style. Too often does the album rely on his “A to B” flow, without the variety Weezy usually offers. Beyond this, the lines often aren’t all that good. While Wayne still drops gold (“swag on infinity, I’m killin em, see the white flag from the enemy, shoot ya in the head and leave ya dash full a memories, father forgive me for my brash delivery”), the album’s generally mired by one liners that’ll leave you scratching your head as to how he though they were good ideas. Take, “Ballin with my Bloods, call it B Ball,” or, “Throw that pussy at me – baseball bat.” No? Howabout, “I have my homies Rushin’, like Moscow.” Ouch. The list could go on and on.
As for guests, the album (like much of Wayne’s material lately) offers exposure to his posse, not that Drake or Nicki need it, the latter is around disappointingly briefly while the former overstays his welcome. In fact, Nicki doesn’t rap at all, instead showing off her pipes on “What’s Wrong With Them.” As for Drake, the truth is he isn’t a terrible rapper, he’s simply an average one, and doesn’t make much of an impression here, aside from confusing this listener about his apparently “Bollywood flow”. He’s well used on “With You” adding one of his so-autotuned-it’s-frustrating-that-I-like-it smooth choruses. In fact, it’s one of the album’s better cuts, with its simple, perfectly laidback chorus, only marred by an uninspired Wayne.
The closing track, “Bill Gates” is a different story. It’s not only the album’s strongest cut, it’s pretty damn fantastic. It finds a doped up Lil Wayne reflecting on his position, snarling, “Got a list full a problems, I’ll tend to ‘em later.” He may be in jail now, but when this was recorded Wayne was the undisputed champ, and he was bored. “I’m high all day, you can call that shit a long flight, every night’s a long night, every day’s a holiday.” If Wayne had been this honest or thoughtful elsewhere, this would’ve been a very different affair. Instead, its second strongest track is reused from a mixtape.
This isn’t a terrible album, it’s simply a weak one; especially considering the heights Lil Wayne is capable of reaching. Going to jail may turn out to be the best thing that’s happened to Weezy in some time, because another offering like this or – God forbid – Tha Carter IV being composed of this material would likely seriously hurt his career. Instead, we’ve been given this snack album, and while it may not have tasted all that good, we can hope it’s a precursor to a renewed MC. It finds Weezy unsure (or perhaps too high) to know what wants to talk about, instead going “mixtape” with it, rapping nearly entirely about money, girls, and rapping itself. With Eminem’s return to glory amidst Wayne’s lagging, you could call this his mini-Encore. The only other material offered on the album reveals that, err, he used to play a Mortal Kombat a whole lot and he still cares about Katrina. It may be called I Am Not a Human Being, but this record presents a Lil Wayne more fallible and human than seen since 500 Degreez. Not that Weezy necessarily even cares, “Life is a beach, [he’s] just playin’ in the sand.”