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Mixtape Magic

Miko Malabute | Tuesday, September 18, 2012


After letting it linger in my Downloads folder for a good week, I finally decided to take a listen to Young Money president Lil Wayne’s newest mixtape effort, “Dedication 4.” However, to my pleasant surprise, there were actually quite a few redeemable songs in the compilation, and the mixtape serves as a testament to Lil Wayne’s undeniable knack for creating a buzz and, in the process, making a few good tune(chi)s.

Now, in my defense, I had every right to put off listening to “Dedication4.” In light of his recent move to branch out into a new skateboard venture named Trukfit, the album cover to “Dedication 4” shows a radical departure from the themes of the preceding “Dedication” volumes: instead of a black-and-white depiction of Weezy at particular points in his life, the newest artwork flagrantly exposes the world to a Trukfit model of the artist, an illustration that is hard to really stay on pace with his former gangster image.

The proof is in the pudding, though, and it’s irrefutable -Lil Wayne’s still got it. Love him or hate him, he ensures that his name still buzzes in the ears of the masses, both in the selection of his song renditions as well as the raw and no-holds-barred lyricism that he continually puts forth. Wayne goes in over popular tracks such as “So Sophisticated” by Rick Ross, “Cashin‘ Out” by Ca$h Out, and “Amen” and “Burn” by Meek Mill.

Wayne also accomplishes more than simply rehashing catchy beats as he lends his usual (albeit inappropriate) lyricism to his songs. In his rendition of “Burn,” he manages to creatively keep up with the intricacies and changes in the beat while maintaining an entertaining delivery: “I make lump sums: oatmeal / I’m stuntin‘, getting new money /  Trukfit money / Mountain Dew money / tell ’em I get better like fine wine I’m like cayenne.”

But as much as I would love to insist that this is a straightforward, top-down solid effort, I am bound to the oath that I have taken upon myself to not lie (about this review, at least): “Dedication 4” goes downhill, and it goes downhill fast. The energy and aggressive, almost abrasive tone quickly become tiresome, and even the pleasant surprise guest appearance of J. Cole cannot save the monotonous ambiance of the mixtape (although an appearance from Drake and a more prominent role from Nicki Minaj might have revived the energy of the project). 

“Dedication 4” is definitely different, and there’s no denying how different this direction is from Wayne’s usual.  However, don’t think that’s a bad thing -Wayne has gone from a thuggish underdog mentality in “Dedication” to a bonafide gangster in “Dedication 2” to a dominant rap figure in “Dedication 3” and has now made his way into a market that is still somewhat foreign to hip-hop with his “Trukfit” campaign in “Dedication 4.” If anything, this speaks more to Wayne’s self-confidence and his fearlessness in branching out and trying something different while always building his name and prominence.

And if anything is dedication to success, it is Lil Wayne.