Last decade, a Lil Wayne mixtape was a statement. These days, it’s a concession. Once Cash Money’s most bankable star, Lil Wayne has now become one of the label’s many signees struggling to release an album. The first Sorry 4 the Wait treated fans until the delayed and disappointing Tha Carter IV dropped; Dedication 5 was a mea culpa for his streak of passable music. This time, on Sorry 4 the Wait 2, “This that Sorry 4 the Wait too” is a refrain throughout. Yes, it’s grating, but it also raises questions: Is Lil Wayne just getting old? Why isn’t he a rock star anymore?
Young Money should’ve had the one-two punch of The Pinkprint and Tha Carter V. “Believe Me”, featuring Drake, was Lil Wayne’s most wholly likeable song in years. Then we got “Grindin'”, “Krazy”, and “Start a Fire”. One used Drake as a crutch; the others vanished as soon as they came. Weezy’s post-Carter IV output hasn’t been killing it critically, but at least his failures have arguably been spectacular. However negative, the strong reaction at least showed he was still near the heart of the culture even though he wasn’t hijacking Beyoncé — repeat: Beyoncé — songs.
Like the first, Sorry 4 the Wait 2 is a decent collection. All Lil Wayne mixtapes have at least five good tracks. Some things just don’t change. Some punchlines are going to be hilarious (“Pussy always tight and warmer than a North Face,” “I got bitches that’ll kill for me, Charles Manson”). Others are going to miss (“Give me head, can’t kiss no more”). Complacency is a factor that drags Sorry 4 the Wait 2 down, but it isn’t the factor. The function never really leaves your head. Birdman isn’t allowing Tha Carter V or releasing Lil Wayne from his contract without a fight; you’re getting 17 new tracks as an apology of a helpless Tunechi. The bites are saved for Cash Money. Lil Wayne squeals a bit more on everything else.
Even the shots feel innocuous. Lil Wayne wastes no time addressing his label situation with the opening track, “Coco”. They’re on-the-nose bars that serve no purpose beside re-confirming what we already knew — creativity is an afterthought. “Cash Money is an army, I’m a one-man army,” he goes, which is fair, but most reasonable rap fans already knew that. Some even used the “Birdman Jr., more like Ugly Duckling” quip. The only thing of note here is that it’s a Lil Wayne line directed at Birdman. You get the sense that this was supposed to be a rallying call, but the periodic self-harmonizing falls flat rather than galvanizing. Same case with “Hot Nigga”: “Got me on my Young Money shit/ No Cash Money, just Young Money shit.” OK, we get it.
Everywhere else, Wayne just doesn’t sound like the confident, diminutive boss he once was. Rather, with all the label drama playing out, it feels like he’s being Lil Wayne on Sorry 4 the Wait 2 because that’s just his thing, like he’s dumping off these outlandish bars because that’s what he does. Take “Preach”, which finds Lil Wayne flipping through his stream-of-consciousness flow with zero impact. Bars like “I don’t eat my words, nigga, I don’t eat no salad” and “My bitches got sex appeal, they like sex and pills” are bricks on any other project. Lil Wayne would’ve sold them as something vital on other mixtapes, but here they feel comparatively listless — and that’s a no-no over beats already this over-worn (who hasn’t heard “Hot Nigga” at this point?). “Used To”, a new song featuring General Drake and a skeletal instrumental from WondaGurl, should’ve been a momentous turn for this project. Instead, there are strung-together lines, rehashed mantras (“Suck a nigga dick for a iPhone 6”), and even a weak Drake verse. Where’s the urgency?
Ideally, the apology and pledge tweet Lil Wayne posted in 2013 was supposed to kickstart a full-blown Weezy renaissance. We instead got minor sparks: some solid features, “Believe Me”, and some mixtape cuts. But Sorry 4 the Wait 2 represents another nadir. It’s certainly not the worst Lil Wayne has done, especially with fluid performances on “Fingers Hurting” and “You Guessed It”. It’s that recklessness that’s absent, and that was part of what made Lil Wayne one of hip-hop’s most compelling personas in the first place.
Essential Tracks: “Trap House”, “Fingers Hurting”, and “You Guessed It”