Lil Wayne and DJ Drama

Dedication 3 Mixtape

(Self-released; 2008)

By Clayton Purdom | 18 November 2008

It must be awful to not like Lil Wayne. Those of us who do are insufferable!: still quoting “Kush” and acting like “A Milli” is the new hot anthem of late-November 2008, like it wasn’t that forever ago, explaining his appeal to the unconverted like no one else had thought to do that yet. Like born-again Christians we will share, unprovoked, our conversion experiences—a freestyle, some burbling television appearance, a tattooed baby picture. We are wild and passionate and glib about it. We act as if we understand something you think you do but don’t actually; we nod knowingly at your criticisms, concede every point and then slowly shake our heads at your inability to see what is right there in front of you. You compare him to R. Kelly. We compare him to Marcel Duchamp, mostly to piss you off. This continues.

I have drunk the Kool-Aid—drunk, as it were, Lil Wayne’s lyrical ejaculate. Dedication 3 is a lot about fucking, which is probably why Lil Wayne sings so much on it. Dedication 3 is sorta like his phase in college where he plays lots of guitar and sings and outright “spits game” at girls. He is completely out of touch with anything, and sounds adrift but ecstatically so. He seems to have been inebriated for the entirety of the recording sessions. His urinal flow at the end of “Ain’t I” seems to have taken place at the end of a long day, or binge: as he loses steam, one pictures him unable to leave the mic, peeing in a red Solo cup just so he doesn’t have to leave the booth. “From the bedroom to the floors,” he coughs at the end of the track, before clarifying, “Whores.”

This is all some very pleasant nastiness (or something), nebulous shit-talk and misogyny spewed with such wanton disregard for taste or content it almost counts as satire but then doubles back on itself and is just an example of itself. Or something. Example, or something: “Your girlfriend is into them gangsters / And me being a gangster I get into your girlfriend.” Such tautologies may be plucked at random from this swirling diarrheal record. “I wanna fuck your head off and fuck your ankles loose / And drank the juice / I’m dangeroose,” he coos, seconds before making a Face/Off reference. Nothing means much but everything fits. Wayne is facing off against himself, for example, crafting a great schlocky John Wu FX epic of his flow versus his flow, his intentions versus your reservations, faces off, reversed—or something. Or not something.

In short, this is business as usual, but it begs a few questions in a post-Carter III megaverse. First: seriously? In 2007 we got a mixtape every 45-50 minutes; we had reason to anticipate something big from this release after his ambition finally became one with the flow and he turned into the leprous, apocalyptic pop superstar he always yearned to be. His post-success silence implied an impending artistic detonation. Instead we get generous track-length spatterings of posse and lot of singing about pussy. Which, second: auto-tuning? Many have proposed a moratorium on the device, but if Kanye had done it first instead of T-Pain I say we might think differently of it. I’ll not stand in the way of progress, be it Lil Wayne, um, holding a guitar or Kanye holding his heart. Still, if this is the future “now” of rap, right “now” it’s surfacing unimpressively from these allegedly soothsaying emcees. The hemorrhaging of tracks from 808s & Heartbreak suggests no great forthcoming breakthrough, either. And Jigga’s still on some throw-back. Strangely, no one seems to be ousting Jeezy’s Recession from my tape deck (allow me this illustration—I do carry a tape deck), which puts me in the awkward position of loving Young Jeezy now.

Which reminds me of the awkward position I was in last week, held at the whims of DJ Drama’s website (Google shamefully recounts that I checked it 13 times on Thursday and Friday) awaiting this release, which, in the end, is just a good mixtape and not the future sound of everything as I had anticipated. Which, thirdly, begs: what precisely is the optimal Lil Wayne experience? Dom and I proudly pegged “token praise” upon Carter III, knowing it to be no definitive thing; what, then, might be? Some would vaunt the mixtapes, but Dedication 3 reminds how maddeningly diffuse they can be. Singles also seem haphazard; full records too slip-shod, too compiled at the whim of a label. He seems, rather, to be some Demigod of Ephemera: of guest spots, interludes, marginalia, ad libs, outros, an excommunicated shaman turning the refuse of other artists into the cornerstones of a shrine made of (and perhaps to) rubbish. The difference between this strange enterprise and those of his would-be peers is the open invitation this outsider extends: come to him through DJ Drama, Mariah Carey or Kid Rock; come to him through CMG or Allhiphop; come one and all and be anointed at this christ-water revival sprung up on the outskirts of town. We’re gonna keep you up all night anyways.