When he assumed his daring alter ego “Mixtape Weezy,” Lil Wayne was once one of hip hop’s most feared lyrical beasts. Wayne used to back up his claim of being the greatest rapper alive by devouring an array of instrumentals on the first three installments of his DJ Drama-hosted Dedication mixtape series. But unlike his previous offerings, Wayne and Drama’s latest, Dedication 4, lacks bite and appears to be the first sign that the Young Money capo is becoming an old dog in a young pup’s game.
It’s not that Lil Wayne’s highly anticipated Dedication 4 isn’t good; it’s just that it’s nothing we haven’t already heard from Mr. Carter three times over. Young Roc Nation star J. Cole provides one of the few highlights of the tape on “Green Ranger,” a freestyle over G. Dep’s classic “Special Delivery” beat that is a much welcomed curveball from Weezy’s normal mixtape steez. Other than that, the tape is exactly what we’ve come to expect from Wayne: stream-of-consciousness freestyles over the hottest beats of the past 18 months. Sadly, the routine was more exhilarating back in 2008 when we weren’t expecting it.
His “Mercy” and “Don’t Like” freestyles are far from wack, but aside from Nicki Minaj’s now infamous Mitt Romney shoutout on “Mercy,” there are no bars on any of them worth a second thought. Wayne’s flow and punchlines are arguably just as tight as they were when he was on top of the game, but the game’s changed and extracurricular activities like skateboarding, running a label and launching a fashion line seem to have left him a few creative steps behind.
On “Green Ranger,” DJ Drama fittingly reflects on his legacy. “I been talking s--t for a generation now,” says the Gangsta Grillz DJ, “time for me to kick my feet up.” Judging from Wayne’s effort on the tape, he seems to have similar plans.
Rating: 3 out of 5
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(Photo: Cash Money Records)
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