It's human nature to compare and contrast things.
We do it whenever we're presented with options. The comfort of relating one thing to another overwhelms us. Have a can of Coke? You may say to yourself, "Well, this is kind of like Pepsi." It's purely psychological and oftentimes completely inaccurate. We face this dilemma quite frequently in music, especially hip hop. Rap has finally reached an age where there are plenty of offspring — artists inspired by another — leading to comparisons that can be drawn. But there is one comparison we need to shelve immediately:
WE ARE NO LONGER ALLOWED TO COMPARE YOUNG THUG TO LIL WAYNE.
Now look, don't get angry and all in your feelings about this. You had the best intentions in mind when you first drew that comparison. You really thought they sounded alike. But, you were wrong. You were very, very wrong. Over the Fourth of July weekend, Lil Wayne dropped his sort-of-freebie project, titled FWA (Free Weezy Album). The "sort of" comes into play, as it was dropped off on that new paid music platform that Hov rebuilt called TIDAL (though a Soundcloud link surfaced over the weekend and has since been yanked from the Internets). If you're light in the pockets and don't have a TIDAL subscription (and missed the Soundcloud), then here's an abridged review for you: FWA is the triumphant return of "Mixtape Weezy." He's shed his Cash Money skin and is back on the bully to grab a stylistic second wind. Tracks like "He's Dead" mourn his Cash Money days ("Rest in peace to the Cash Money Weezy. Gone, but not forgotten," he spits on the cut), while "Post Bail Ballin" puts thorough bars together and the Trap pays a visit to Weezy's tongue on "White Girl" with Jeezy, among other solid cuts. He even gets mellowed out with "My Heart Races On," teetering on emo but not to the extent of his former YMCMB labelmate Drake. Bottom line, there are many dimensions to Lil Wayne and none of them should ever remind you of Young Thug.
Thugga's arrival was timed perfectly, though. Last year, when Rich Gang (a supergroup amalgam of both Young Money and Cash Money) dropped their Rich Homie Quan and Young Thug-assisted single "Lifestyle," Wayne was already on the outs with the house he helped build. Even Birdman casually said that the confusing upstart had the potential to reach Lil Wayne status (ugh, so rude). Young Thug, an admitted Wayne zealot, attempted to deliver on "Lifestyle" that signature Weezy rap-scatting Wayne's done ever since he picked up a baby bottle of Lean. The result was gibberish that went viral, pushing Thugga further into our frames of reference, but for all the wrong reasons. And sure, it had been a bit since we really got our Wayne fix. Both Dedication 5 and I Am Not a Human Being II were dropped a year prior in 2013, so in hip hop time that's like a decade. We all collectively forgot what Lil Wayne sounded like. So we gave Thugga a pass. A limited pass, but a pass nonetheless.
It's like when Chrysler released the 300 and everyone thought it looked like a Bentley. Then you see a Bentley again and you're like, "Oh, nevermind."
At the top of 2015, Wayne dropped Sorry 4 the Wait 2, which was cool, but Wayne wasn't on full tilt, so the Young Thug comparisons lingered on. His partial threat of retiring following the long-awaited release of Tha Carter V had Weezy fans doing those deep breaths before bursting into tears, and for some ungodly reason Young Thug was like, "Don't worry, guys! I'm gonna title my debut album Carter VI and continue the legacy!" OK, but NOBODY asked you to do that, Thugga. NOBODY. Especially not Lil Wayne, who damn near lost his mind at that suggestion. So by April, Young Thug dropped his project with the trollishly weird title of Barter 6. Even then, the "he sounds like Lil Wayne" remarks permeated the atmosphere, despite the only similarity being an occasional whine here and there.
With FWA, Wayne has dug deeply into his diaphragm and pulled out every single vocal inflection he could find to let all of us know that not only is he not a one-trick pony, but there is no other horse in the stable who sounds like him — particularly none with goldilocks and a dress.
And yes, we've been down this road before. Remember those ridiculous five minutes when Wyclef tried to pass off Jeni Fujita for Lauryn Hill (earning him the Come On Son Award of the Decade)? Or how about that immensely offensive moment when people started saying Shyne sounded like The Notorious B.I.G.? In recent years, it's been semi-passable: Action Bronson sounding like Ghostface Killah, Your Old Droog sounding like Nas. But in those situations, both artists presented are substantially talented, as agreed upon by the greater rap-loving audience. In the case of Young Thug and Lil Wayne, the jury is still out. Way out.
So until that day comes when the hip hop community at large fully accepts Young Thug with the same open arms used to embrace Lil Wayne, let's dead that comparison once and for all.
It's for the best, really.
(Photos from Left: Kevin Winter/Getty Images, Jessica Alexander/WENN)