Shortly before being sent to prison, Louisiana rapper Lil Wayne went to work in the studio, recording hours upon hours of material to be released while he was incarcerated. Now, at last, his hard work is coming to fruition.
His eighth studio release, “I Am Not a Human Being,” is an excellent rebound from the disastrous “Rebirth.” Featuring a gold-plated list of guest stars like Drake and Jay Sean, the album is a peek into the wacky and weed-smoking mind of Wayne.
Wayne chooses to thankfully ditch the guitar and return to his roots, letting his quick wit guide the feel of the album. In the opening song, the titular “I Am Not a Human Being,” Wayne raps, “I am the rhyming oasis/ I got a cup of ya time I won’t waste it/ I got my foot on the line I’m not racin’/ I thank God that I am not basic.” Wayne certainly wastes no time in getting into his fast-paced rap, opening with an aggressive beat that gives him a steady backdrop to his rhymes.
The indubitable highlight of “I Am Not a Human Being” comes in the album’s fourth track, “Right Above It,” featuring Drake. A ballad to friendship, success and — of course — women, Wayne and Drake form an incredible duo, rapping over a heavily synthesized beat that is both uplifting and upbeat.
”Right Above It” debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard Top 100 Chart and was downloaded 225,000 times during the first week alone. This is a song that is just fun to listen to, easy on the ears and carrying a strong message of success. It acts as sort of a primer for Wayne’s upcoming release from prison.
Not every track is catchy and radio friendly, however. In “Gonorrhea,” Wayne shows us a bit of his tough side, which is something we haven’t seen in a while in a studio album. While this might not be good news to some fans of Lil Wayne’s newer material, longtime fans who fear that he has become too commercial will appreciate his showing a bit of teeth in his rhymes.
For listeners who are not too excited about the prospect of hearing the more gangster side of Wayne, “With You” is a softer song, introducing an unnamed female singer who adds a touch of tenderness to the song. The slower pace and gentler beat is almost something you could slow dance to, and the introduction of Drake on a significant part of the track gives the listener a break from the croaking voice of Wayne.
Drake really comes into his own in “I Am Not a Human Being,” and is featured in almost half of the album’s songs. It is refreshing to see him take a more active role in each track that features him, rather than just being relegated to small verses in songs dominated by Wayne.
The flow of the songs are not quite fully developed, and while the rhymes and individual parts of each track may be brilliant, they don’t all seem to fully fit together into one coherent idea. Wayne’s mind seems to be in 100 different places at once, which translates to a sometimes confusing listening experience.
The album is lean and concise, leaving no room for any filler. Coming in at 10 tracks in the digital release (the CD will feature two bonus tracks), the album — just like its songs — seems to be focused but not consistent, changing tone and feeling from track to track.
While it is refreshing for any fan to hear Wayne return back to his fundamental style, I just can’t shake the feeling that the whole album was rushed. In his race to record before he was sent to jail, it seems as if Wayne just didn’t have time to put his usual level of polish on each track, and it really shows here.
It almost seems as if Wayne is just warming up for “Tha Carter 4,” even going so far as having Drake tell us in “Gonorrhea” that “… we about to kill ‘em, C4 Mr. Carter’s home.”
The album as a whole feels like a studio produced mix-tape, not quite flawless but better than the raw feeling of some of Wayne’s other non-album work. The album may seem scatterbrained and without focus at times, but considering the circumstances it was recorded under, it is forgivable. “Tha Carter 3” this is not, but “I Am Not a Human Being” is a good listen for any Lil Wayne fan.
Fans of Lil Wayne need not wait much longer, as Wayne’s next album, the eagerly anticipated “Tha Carter 4,” is set to release Nov. 5 to correlate with his release from prison.
Rating: 3 out of 5