Suffice to say, it’s been a weird eight months for the Young Money impresario, even as he managed to be as visible as ever, dropping videos for new songs, guesting on all the tracks (seriously, look at his credits for 2012-13 alone) and constantly touring. But that’s all part of Weezy’s allure: his cartoonish, schizophrenic persona is matched only by his maniacal level of creative output that never seems to dip, even in the face of serious personal and professional strife. That just about brings us up to speed for the release today () of his 10th studio album I Am Not a Human Being II, a record (like so many of his post-Carter III works) that showcases the best and worst of Wayne’s musical proclivities and experiments, as well as creeping fatigue.
Unlike its 2010 predecessor, IANAHB II wasn’t hastily completed before an impending jail sentence, giving Wayne the time to refocus his creative energies on the codeine-soaked, free-association rhymes and eclectic productions he became known for. Suitably, the high points come when Wayne seems wide-eyed and present, like the piano-only opener “IANAHB,” wherein he immediately reasserts his whacked-out flow on the first line: “I’m in the crib, butt naked bitch/ She said my dick could be the next black president.” The subjects on the tightest tracks here are standard Weezy fare: gangster-game posturing (the lurching taunt of “Gunwalk”), lurid sexual encounters (the bonkers, Soulja Boy-produced “Wowza”) and prolific drug use (the bacchanalian “Trippy”).
“Trippy” in particular has a genuinely engaged Wayne working over a spaced-out beat from Juicy J and Crazy Mike, even while the song’s blatantly unrepentant lyrics seem to fly in the face of the rapper’s constant, public struggle with addiction to prescription cough syrup: “I’m stoned, Mick Jagger/ I can run around Saturn/ Eyes rollin’ back/ And keep blinkin’ like hazards.”
The Cool & Dre produced “Days and Days” featuring 2 Chainz is IANAHB II’s unexpected apex, building slowly from a Barbara Lynn vocal sample into an annihilating, forest-levelling squall as Weezy (“my n***as foul when the ref’s lookin”) and hip-hop’s busiest man 2 Chainz (“Last name fuck/ First name I-don’t-give-a”) trade thick quips as the world crumbles around them.
Unfortunately, the lows — the horrid Rebirth leftover “Hello” notwithstanding — happen to be the highest-profile tracks on the album. Lead singles “No Worries,” featuring Detail, and “Bitches Love Me,” with Drake and Future, are both faded polaroids of the shimmering candy-coated stomps that made Wayne a fixture in Billboard’s Hot 100 for the past decade. It seems like every one of his recent releases has a “Lollipop” knock-off, featuring a stiff Weezy straining to pull out even the smallest sliver of wit he possessed in abundance just a few tracks prior.
Wayne claimed his quality control would return for IANAHB II, but this record still seems like something he squeezed in between his many, many commitments. Granted, the bulk of the album is worthy of the man who calls himself the Best Rapper Alive (a title Kanye West co-signed), but we’re still waiting for his last, huge gasp of cohesive, creative accomplishment before his official retirement/probable comeback/eventual cooling off — something Tha Carter V could certainly end up becoming.
Best Track That’s Not The Single: “Days and Days” has Weezy and 2 Chainz dropping incendiaries left and right with no fucks left to give.
Best Listened to: As a substitute for a sipping on sizzurp.
Idolator Score: 3.5/5
— Patrick Bowman