Lil Wayne will probably never again reach the heights attained in the year around the release of Dedication 2, his 2006 mixtape so good that it wound up on many mainstream critics' year-end top ten lists—something unheard-of at the time for a free online release. Over 81 minutes, Wayne expertfully weaved important topics (see: his anti-Bush screed on "Georgia Bush") with insane free association riffs ("Sportscenter"), all while retaining a unique, ever-changing flow. Dedication 5, the fifth in Lil Wayne and DJ Drama's now-eight year collaboration, can't match that era.
Nevertheless, it's pretty damn good. The mixtape, released online over the weekend, is too long (29 fucking songs), and more than a few of his tracks choices are overshadowed by the original version ("New Slaves" probably shouldn't have been touched), but "Don't Kill" is a more-than-effective re-working of "Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe" with some killer lines ("I'm cooking up two quarters, bout' to get rich or die tryin'/I got some killa's on my side, some kill up in my swisher") and he randomly takes on the Wu-Tang's two-decade-old song "CREAM" in a great way.
Plus the Wayne fans seem to like it: It'll hit a million downloads by the end of the week. And it still holds a four-star Datpiff rating. Every Dedication release feels like a big deal, and, for the first time since 2, the product matches the hype. Give it a listen here.
(Also, while I'm on the mixtape subject: The insanely young Brooklyn-based Underachievers, who found a following this year based on their druggy and lyrically challenging Indigoism, just unexpectedly teamed up with Rick Ross producer Lex Luger to release "The Lords of Flatbush."The result is widely different from the group's old sound, but it's still a pretty cool and very unique colliding of hip-hop worlds. Find it here.)