Album Review: By Kelly O
This aint a stop-gap, it’s a goddamn arms race. ‘No Ceilings 2’, Lil Wayne’s newest free mixtape, is about more than suppressing fans’ appetites for the New Orleans rapper’s much-delayed album ‘Tha Carter V’, of which there’s still no sign. His third release this year, and sequel to 2009’s ‘No Ceilings’, is a reminder of Wayne’s prowess, as he outdoes rivals on their own tracks.
There are two genuinely breathtaking moments on this ragtag collection comprised of remixes of other rappers’ tracks (around one-third first belonged to Drake and Future) and the occasional original composition. First, ‘My Name Is’, robbing the backing track to Eminem’s 1999 worldwide hit, is audacious in concept and hilarious in execution, leading you to wonder if it actually took Weezy 16 years to think up the inspired couplet, “Hi, my name is / Lil Wayne, bitch.” Second, he emerges – for one song, at least – an unlikely champion of women’s rights on ‘Plastic Bag’. The original saw Drake and Future create the grotesquely chauvinistic image of a dude telling a stripper to scoop his money into a plastic bag because “you danced all night, girl, you deserve it”. Wayne’s version, thrillingly, implores the woman to exact revenge upon this peacocking prick: “Get a plastic bag / Throw it over his head and make him gag… you flashed all night, nigga, you deserve it.”
He also generously invites lesser-known New Orleans rappers such as Gudda Gudda and Curren$y to appear on the mixtape, though none come close to upstaging him. Singer Stephanie Acevedo, a recent signee to Wayne’s label Young Money, handles most of the pensive original song ‘Crystal Ball’, a further display of generosity that affords the mixtape a necessary change of pace.
Future himself appears on one middling original song, ‘Cross Me’, but that doesn’t prevent Weezy from rendering the Atlanta star obsolete with his take on Drake and Future’s ‘Diamonds Dancing’. It’s more Future than Future, name-checking Michael Myers, Norman Bates and Stephen King to capitalise on the eeriness of the backing track. Yet final track ‘The Hills’, ripping off The Weeknd’s recent hit, brings ‘No Ceilings 2’ back to its point. The point is this: who, exactly, needs R&B sleazeball The Weeknd when Lil Wayne’s capable of depraved, laugh-out-loud lines such as: “Find out I was cumming and you swallow / Let me stick my thumb up in your asshole”?