Everyone can’t do everything. Not every producer can rap. Not every rapper should be a CEO. And not every CEO has the business savvy or selflessness involved to develop another artist. Take Jay-Z for instance; phenomenal rapper, sub par CEO. Music fans can now add Lil Wayne to that list. The multi-platinum rapper, who seems to be able to sell ice in the winter, is trying his hand at artist development with his latest project, Young Money. So far, not so good.
With a roster that sounds more like a street gang than a Hip-Hop collage, the debut album from Young Money sounds more like a mixtape than an album. Wayne and Drake are the obvious starters, with Nicki Minaj, Jae Millz, Lil’ Twist, Tyga, Mack Maine, Gudda Gudda, T-Streets, Lil Chuckee and songstress Shanell as the assists. The 15-track debut lacks substance and cohesiveness, which may not come as a shocker for most, as how the OG of the bunch is a self-proclaimed substance abuser. Still, as a music lover and fan, you expect someone of Weezy’s standing to produce far better work than this.
“Gooder” is a deceptive opening track, featuring Young Money veterans Jae Millz, Lil Wayne, Gudda Gudda & Mack Maine. The track features a throbbing bassline and tyrannical hi-hata, laced by the team’s gritty rhymes. Wayne brings the song full-circle with his signature “rapper turned singer” hook, singing, “Times ain’t the same. Shit done gone bad. But nigga we gooder than a motherfucker. So fuck them niggas and fuck them hoes. Money talks. We say hello.” Not exactly the Iliad.
However, at first listen, the album shows promise. And as the album moves into its first single, “Every Girl,” the momentum continues. From the moment Wayne opens his mouth and the beat drops, head nodding commences. A sort of anthem for the male species, Wayne and friends explicitly share their love of women, multiple women. Drake, Jae Millz, Gudda Gudda and Mack Maine all pull their own weight on the album, but Wayne steals the show from the very first line. Production-wise, and lyrically, this song is the most complete and lucid on the album.
The album’s true colors begin to show on “Ms. Parker,” a track better suited for one of Wayne’s mixtapes than an on an album intended to provide a base for his label. It would be nice to discuss the purpose of the song, but there isn’t one. Wayne, Mack Maine & Gudda Gudda are just rambling about wanting to f*&ck Ms. Parker, an ode to the infamous character in Chris Tucker and Ice Cube’s Friday. “Wife Beater” is another place holder. “New Shit” is mediocre at best, giving the Young Money veterans a chance to showcase their lyrical chops without an elaborate backdrop as a distraction.
The album begins its apex with ‘Pass the Dutch,” which features Lil Wayne, Gudda Gudda, Lil Twist & Drake. A basic beat, but the lyrical prowess of Wayne and Drake gives the song wings. While it could certainly do without Lil’ Twist’s feminine tone, Drake helps the song soar as he states, “October’s own is such a fuckin’ real set. No tats but the ink on my money’s still wet.”
The first introduction of Young Money’s crooner, Shanell, is a mixed bag. “Play In My Band” finds she and Wayne alone on a track, giving a proper introduction as an artist, with her sultry alto, and Wayne a chance to further explore his newfound heavy metal instincts. Though the song is great on its own, it doesn’t belong on this album. It sounds like a track from Rebirth that just didn’t make the cut.
“Fuck Da Bullshit” is sure to be a fan favorite, as it pairs Young Money’s prince and princess with Wayne on a murderous track, narrated by Birdman. Nicki Minaj’s voice is still nasal with lyrics still puerile in nature, but her flow is bold grimy on this track. Gudda Gudda continues to show his potential to be a first place winner on this track. Wayne is crass, as usual. The only real highlight of the song, still, is Drake, who almost feels out of place on this (and every other track he’s featured on) because he’s so much more skilled than anyone else on the roster. Again, he kills the song, ‘How’d you sleep on me? The highest earning freshman. Like your third infection, I hope you learned your lesson.”
The mini-peak ends with the album’s second single “Bedrock,” which features Lloyd. Here, we get to see the animation Minaj provides with her vocal inflections, a signature characteristic of Wayne himself. Another explicit track where Wayne, Drake, Tyga and Gudda Gudda all mingle with the keys and synth strings effortlessly.
The remainder of the album is well below average, and that’s being generous. “Steady Mobbin’” features Gucci, and sadly this high-profile feature leaves the album in dire need of resuscitation. “Roger That” is the final breath for an album that’s lifeless by its end. The song ends where “Gooder” began, a hardcore beat with gritty rhymes. When the track ends, so does the potential for this debut.
We’ve learned to love Wayne for who he is. Unfortunately his protégés will have to earn that respect; the reality of which Wayne seems oblivious. Either way, We Are Young Money does nothing to solidify Young Money’s place in the rap game. Drake stands on his own as an exceptional talent, which is painfully obvious throughout the entire album. If Young Money continues on this path, they certainly won’t be considered a sure bet.
out of 5
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