Lil’ Wayne is genius.
Actually, let me rephrase that. Lil’ Wayne is not A genius, he IS genius.
That is confusing. Let me try this again…
Lil’ Wayne does not create art, he IS the art.
This is an important distinction to make, I believe, as it allows us to fully grasp the stunning masterpiece that is Lil’ Wayne.
In many ways Lil’ Wayne is proof of the existence of God. Not necessarily the God of fire and brimstone and the Ten Commandments but rather the God of creation, the “How Great Thou Art” God. A work of art like Lil’ Wayne could have only be fashioned by the hands of an immortal being. Forget the creationism – we evolved out of the primordial soup – but Lil’ Wayne did not evolve; he was preconceived, planned, and created.
Lets explore this further.
The genius of Lil’ Wayne is that he improves every single track he is on without any rational or conceivable reason as to WHY. Simply by being Lil’ Wayne on a song, he improves it. He is a completely two-dimensional object yet we don’t even begin to understand him. He is a caricature but as a caricature he is deeper and more authentic than any other musician alive today. He is the Keith Richards of our generation, an elegantly wasted mess who also happens to write a highly entertaining and shockingly coherent blog for ESPN. He simply is Lil’ Wayne and that’s about the extent of it.
We need a case study to help us understand this, to help us understand Lil’ Wayne.
Let us consider “Let It Rock” by Kevin Rudolf. Now, this is a terrible song. A purely commercial concoction of club beats and mid-90’s arena rock, by all measures it should suck, and it does. But only, it’s kind of amazing, solely because Lil’ Wayne guests on this song. Not only is his verse endlessly entertaining but he improves the rest of the song through some weird osmosis of genius. Like the godly glow that surrounded Moses as he came down from Mt. Sinai with the Ten Commandments, Kevin Rudolf, a human who’s music has no interest to me whatsoever, is surrounded by the aura of Lil’ Wayne on Let It Rock. The song is transformed from one of the worst songs of the year into one of the best. And all it took was Lil’ Wayne.
But what did Lil’ Wayne actually DO to improve this track? Like a drunken bar hopper stumbling into the last bar of the night, somewhat confused as to why he’s there but very much in favor of it, Lil’ Wayne stumbles into the song after the second chorus, takes a look around, and decides to just go with it and say a few words. But he doesn’t actually say anything. He just throws words together, not as some avant-garde cut-up experiment but rather because he just doesn’t have much to say. Most of what he says is vaguely sexual but not in any sort of coherent fashion. Much like the overly inebriated bar hopper, he’s horny but only in a general sense.
And yet, his verse is genius. It’s hilarious. Eminently unquotable and yet I find myself quoting it constantly. The genius does not reside in the words but rather in Wayne. It’s not the song that I love but rather Lil’ Wayne. The song is just one of many manifestations of the art that is Lil’ Wayne.
Let It Rock the proceeds to repeat its chorus a few times as the song winds to an unceremonious end but then Wayne is back. Like the drunk who’s recovered his sobriety enough to realize he must retrieve his car keys from the bar floor where he dropped them, Lil’ Wayne simply informs us that he is back, that he would like to fuck you (the new found sobriety has focused the vague sexual desires from the earlier verse) and then that’s about it and the song ends. It’s brilliant.
The video for Let It Rock confirms my argument. As Kevin Rudolf caterwauls around, Wayne is right behind him. The entire song he wears a guitar but doesn’t play a single note on it. And yet, Lil’ Wayne turns this video from a completely bland affair into an engaging and entertaining one, not because of anything he actually does but because a) he is there and b) he has a guitar on him. It’s not the genius of his actions; it’s the genius of who he is.
No other living musician is genius simply as themselves. Artists who comes close, such as a David Byrne, work very hard to be somebody who bring genius wherever they go. Lil’ Wayne does it just by showing up. Other artists are as iconic as Lil’ Wayne but they lack the ability to be genius just because. Madonna is an icon but adding her to Let It Rock would have been a disaster of historical significance.
When we are in the presence of Lil’ Wayne we are in the presence of greatness. He is a completely accidental genius but a genius nonetheless. We salute thee, Mr Wayne and we thank you for sharing your genius with us.
Kevin Rudolf (feat. Lil’ Wayne) – ” Let It Rock” [mp3]