When Jay Z shouted out "the Mixtape Weezy" on his 2011 song "D.O.A.," real hip hop heads knew exactly what he meant. With Dedication 5, the latest installment of the DJ Drama-hosted series, a noticeably lucid and hungry Lil Wayne shows up and so does that fire that helped springboard him to the forefront of American pop culture. Wayne claims to be retiring after his next album and if he does in fact call it quits, this collection is a calculated reminder of what hip hop will be missing.
Welcome back, Mixtape Weezy. Hopefully it won't be for the last time.
Building the anticiaption, Dedication's intro, "I'm Good," starts with the melodic sound of strings backing The Weeknd's feathery vocals. But the sound of a lighter being sparked serves as a subtle indication that it's about to go down. "Baby let's face it. I'm not into dating/I haven't been patient ever since I've been famous/My time has been racing, my motives are basic," the Canadian phenom sings. Wayne's only contribution at this point comes in the form of ad libs while the beat picks up, the synth creeps up and The Weeknd gets increasingly raunchy. Tunechi then puts the cherry on top, proclaiming, "This is dedicated to everyone who forgot."
Next, Wayne proceeds to take over hip hop's best songs of 2013, including Kanye West's "New Slaves," which he flips into his own personal dedication to riches and b… the ladies. "I got old money. I take a bath in hundreds/My way or the highway and I see traffic coming/It's Tunechi in this h--, watch them h--s go crazy/Pass that weed around, like that s--t contagious," he raps.
Next, Wayne takes a crack at Rich Homie Quan's summer anthem "Type of Way," showing off his ability to turn up at any tempo he spits. "I hit it from the front, from the side, from the back, I hit it all type of ways/She throw it to me like I'm just one strike away," he slings at the track.
Wayne continued his reign of terror over the Top 40 with hot verses on the controversial hit "U.O.E.N.O.;" the Jay Z and Rick Ross single "F--kWitMeYouKnowIGotIt;" and Meek Mill's "Levels," which he especially wrecks, rapping, "Skatin' on 'em like I'm Lil Wayne/and the weed so strong I can feel veins/Write it down, take a picture if you feel afraid/The drug got me so numb I can't feel the shame/And my girl at home with the mood swings/God I gotta make a few runs like Usain/wish I had a penny for my thoughts for some loose change/Hungry n----s goin' at your neck for that food chain."
As the head honcho of a massively successful label, Wayne also dips into the up-and-coming talent pool, adding new kid Chance The Rapper to bring that Chi-Town heat to the N.O. on "You Song," which uses a fairly stripped down beat to showcase the pair's lyrical chemistry; and, one of D5's more pleasant surprises, YMCMB newcomer Euro, who established himself as a force to be reckoned with on songs like "Ain't Worried," "Live Life" and the Wu-Tang salute, "Cream."
In the wake of Young Money standout Drake's recent chart dominance, "Started" may have quietly been the tape's most important message. Wayne blazed his protégé's hit single "Started From the Bottom," making it his own with rhymes like, "Y'all don't want no problems up in here. Rather be judged by my jewelry, not a jury of my peers/And I got some kush to hide in her brassiere/And we only selling what the boat bring here/Y'all don't want no problems up in here/'Cause I got shooters on the roof like some f---in' reindeer/And I'm probably with the model of the year/I'm about to go 'Pac with the nose ring up in here."
From a production standpoint, the Drumma Boy-produced heater "Still Got That Rock" was one of the mixtape's high notes, as was "Bugatti," which favored the Ace Hood original but added a choir on the refrain for a more dynamic build up from Mike WiLL.
All in all, Dedication 5 was Wayne's way of telling naysayers that he's still a beast in this game. And while he came close to murdering every rapper on their own hits, he may have been a little too ambitious with songs like "Don't Kill," which was his take on Kendrick Lamar's smash hit "B---h, Don't Kill My Vibe." Though his flow was hot, he fell noticeably short in duplicating K. Dot's tailor-made cadence, which simply cannot be outdone.
"F----n' Problems" also fell short of the original, despite Euro once again coming hard on the A$AP Rocky hit, and "Feds Watching" didn't show any real innovation.
Still, the mixtape did what it needed to do. Wayne proved to the world that when it comes to this rap s--t, he is in fact not a human being. Even on the tracks that didn't outshine the originals, Tunechi never came weak. Wayne's biggest competition right now is himself, and Dedication 5 lets it be known that, like another rapper named Carter, He. Will. Not. Lose.
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(Photo: Cash Money Records)