Lil Wayne, 'Rebirth' (Cash Money/Universal)

3
Rebirth
Critical Mass
Label: Cash Money/Universal

by Charles Aaron

It's perhaps the greatest musical tantrum of 2010. Over a nagging synthesizer maelstrom, Lil Wayne bellows like a man facing down a wind machine on a cliff in a Roland Emmerich flick: "Bitch, I'm-a pick the world up and I'm-a drop it on your fuckin' head / And I could die now, rebirth, motherfucker / Hop up in my spaceship and leave earth, motherfucker / I'm gone." Then a cold and lonely Eminem shows up to scare the shit out of whoever's left in the room with an incendiary I'm-back-from-pharmaceutical-Hell guest threat/verse.

Yet this awesomely delirious moment occurs on perhaps the most misbegotten musical pratfall of 2010. Weezy's so-called rock'n'roll reinvention features comically Auto-Tuned vocals, awkwardly caterwauling guitar, and randomly bludgeoning drums (all produced with an erratic, tin-eared enthusiasm) that reflects a view of "rock" culled from the most obvious dreck rotated ad nauseum on every "alternative" or "edge" station for the past 15 years. His gift for liberating lyrical absurdity is reduced to trite chest-beating and rote debauchery, like a Broadway cheese wheel based on the Motley Crue memoir The Dirt (minus the yuks). .

"Shoot Me Down," the moody, drifting guitar-pop ballad from 2008's Tha Carter III, was no magnum opus, but it provided a sympathetic rock setting that allowed Weezy to be alternately moving and outlandish. Here, virtually every song-whether it references metal or grunge or emo or new-wave-shoves him into a role-playing frenzy. Clearly, if a stoned millionaire insists on singing and playing guitar (when he can't technically do either), the results are gonna be sketchy. But Rebirth is far goofier than it had to be.

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