Monday, September 2, 2013

A Special Musical Moment: "You Song" by Lil' Wayne Ft. Chance The Rapper

 (This song is explicit. If you don't like explicit songs, you won't like this.) 

 "You Song" off Lil' Wayne's newest mixtape Dedication 5 is a special treat. It is a rare moment of tenderness and unguarded reflection, a song that cuts away the usual cartoonish rapper persona and exposes the man behind the character.
 If you aren't familiar with hip-hop, a big part of the appeal for many rappers is an almost super-human amount of excess and debauchery. The old stereotype of "money, drugs and hoes" is a very accurate description for a lot of what very famous rappers talk about. Lil' Wayne is the prototypical materialistic rapper. He is entertaining solely because he has a tremendous way with words, when he is at the top of his game his wordplay, metaphors and punchlines make an endless description of sex and intoxication listenable and even enjoyable.
 In "You Song" Lil' Wayne tries to tell one story but he isn't convincing. He tries to be a victor, the conquerer, but he fails. And he ends up revealing himself far more than he may have meant to.

"Give you the world if it was for me
My diamond grill make it hard to see I'm lying through my teeth
And now I'm flying on my PJ, looking at the clouds
Thinking about yo ass and how it look like a big smile
I get mental flashbacks of you asscrack
Lemme get back on track...
You say I act like I don't miss you, that's because I don't act
But anyway, we can role-play or get straight to it
Sorry, my mind in the gutter, better yet sewer
And when you say I love you, I stutter "I-I-I love you too"
It's Wayne's world, she say "what is this world coming to?"
And she know me and whoever together, she hope we come a loose
She told if she ain't the one, she gon' throw up the deuce
I laughed at her, we took a bath together and splashed each other
Then she got serious, she said "Tune I gotta ask you something
Do you really love me?" I tried to change the subject
So I said some crazy shit to her like: "what if you and I were just letters?
That be unfortunate we'd have to rob a fortune teller
But I swear I think I love you, fingers crossed in my pocket
Okay that's a dead subject, you bring it up that's a zombie
You remind me, of my memory ain't what it used to be"
She said she ain't tripping, I know cause I move my feet
And when she figure out that she been swindled
I'll be cleaning that love bird shit off my window
I-I-I love you too.."

 Part of the reason the song betrays the lyrics is the story behind Dedication 5. Lil' Wayne has been on a downward spiral for years. His last truly great album was Tha Carter III and his last great mixtape was No Ceilings. He went to jail in 2010 and hasn't been the same since. If you listen to his newer albums Tha Carter IV and I Am Not A Human Being Pt. 2 Wayne was not only bored-sounding, he sounded physically weak. A life of extremely hard partying and immense drug consumption had caught up with him, and he became more weezy than ever. Early this year he was hospitalized because of intense seizures, also probably stemming from drug consumption.
 Dedication 5 is billed as part of Wayne's comeback. This is him trying to get back in the groove, trying to churn out more interesting wordplay and bring more energy back into his music. He is, by and large, successful in this- but you can tell he isn't the same man he used to be. Many of his jokes fall flat and his boasts no longer ring true every time. One of the best parts of the tape are actually the skits, where we hear him just rambling in the studio. He seems more interested in his company and his fans and everyone that has stuck with him all these years than the music he is making. Weezy isn't the best rapper alive anymore and he knows it.
 So while "You Song" tries to portray Wayne as a player, getting and ultimately using the girl, you don't really believe him. All his jokes and affectations seem put on. You get the sense that he really does love this girl, but he doesn't want to believe it himself. He sounds awkward, afraid to grow up and commit. Afraid to admit to himself that he isn't the same, that things have changed. He seems scared and more than a little bit confused.
 He isn't ready to change yet, but I can't help but think maybe next time it may be different. Maybe he'll finally accept that he is a human being.