There's only one problem with being the best: topping yourself. For Lil Wayne, whose last release ( Tha Carter III) was the best-selling album of 2008 and who has been proclaimed the best rapper alive by most of the music critics and publications that matter, it's a pressing concern (though possibly not quite as pressing as his impending prison sentence for illegal weapons possession).
Wayne's tactical decision? Make a rock album.
Our verdict? The rapper's long-delayed effort proves that variety isn't always the spice of life. And that you can change your sound, but you probably can't change your tune.
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
The intentionally misspelled "Paradice" comments on the vanity of chasing fame ("She finally made all her dreams come true and then she screamed/'This ain't paradise'"). The song also mentions prayer and repentance ("Sometimes we try to find a road to the riches/Need roadside assistance/Blisters on my knees from beggin' for forgiveness"). Prayer pops up on "Ground Zero" as well ("How can I pray when I got nothin' to kneel on?"). "Runnin" expresses a desire for direction amid confusion ("I lost all my money/I lost half my mind/Can't find my direction/Where's the finish line?"). "Prom Queen" critiques a popular girl's failure to find someone who'll actually love her ("She didn't realize she chased the type of guys/That don't believe in ties").
Where to start? Eenie meenie miney mo. OK. Profanity. Pick a bad word, and it's probably in here—especially the f-word and its twisted variants, which make dozens of appearances, frequently in sexual contexts.
Sex. "Hey, Barbie," Lil Wayne raps in "Knockout," "Are you into black men?/Hey, Barbie, I can be your black Ken." Things go unprintably downhill from there in that song and others ("American Star," "The Price is Wrong," "On Fire," "Da Da Da," "One Way Trip") as Wayne graphically tangles with oral sex and anal sex, threesomes, and the male and female anatomy.
Drugs? Yep. References to crack and marijuana. On one incoherent track, "Ground Zero," lines about getting high read, "I'm so high that the ground is gone," and then Wayne chants, "Jump, jump out a window/Let's, let's, let's jump off a building, baby/Let's jump, jump out a window." The song refers to planes crashing, and you might decide it's about 9/11—if you can sort through the incoherent ramblings about sex, getting high, jumping and floating.
And violence. "American Star" shows a man who's proud of his hometown's violent reputation ("Born and raised in the USA/By way of New Orleans, where the killas stay") and who thinks little of the government ("Where the government's watchin' what you do and say"). On " Drop the World," guest rapper Eminem delivers trademark threats to critics ("That pillow is where your head'll lie/Permanently, b‑‑ch, it's beddie-bye").
The most entertaining thing about Rebirth has nothing to do with actually listening to Dwayne Carter's foul flounderings . Instead, it's reading the reviews, which have plumbed the outer limits of the English language as a vehicle for hyperbolic derision.
"Rebirth is—without qualification—the most embarrassing album of the last 10 years. Embarrassing for him, for his audience, for rap, for humanity," wrote Joshua Errett of the Canadian music magazine NOW. Sam Wolfson of Britain's New Music Express adds, "Rebirth [is] a shlock-rock record so absurd it makes Alien Ant Farm seem like a legitimate musical venture."
Perhaps the best way to conclude this review, however, is with Wayne's own words. On "One Way Trip" he sings, "I'm very sick, very sicker than you."
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Rebirth debuted at No. 2 with first-week sales of 176,000 units.
Cash Money Records,Universal Motown
February 2, 2010