Courtesy of MCT
Hip-hop hasn’t seen a beef on the scale of Biggie vs. Tupac since the mid ‘90s, but after Lil Wayne’s latest album, “Tha Carter IV,” leaked online Wednesday, evidence suggests that the next one might find Weezy himself pitted against … Jay-Z?
The Internet collectively blew up Wednesday after catching hold of “It’s Good,” a track from “Tha Carter IV” featuring Drake and Jadakiss. Wayne takes a shot at Jay in response to “H•A•M,” the first single from Jay and Kanye West’s collaboration album, “Watch the Throne.”
To understand the absurdity of this “feud,” some knowledge of its backstory is first required.
It started in 2009, when MTV dubbed Jay-Z the hottest emcee in the game. Birdman, who owns Cash Money Records, the label to which Wayne is signed, took issue, countering that it’s actually Wayne who’s the hottest because he makes more money.
Therein lies the first issue. According to Forbes, Jay-Z earned $63 million in 2010. Wayne banked $20 million.
Then came “H•A•M,” in which Jay takes a shot at Wayne, saying “Really, you got baby money,” with “baby” referring to Birdman, and “(You) ain’t got my lady’s money!” referring to the $87 million Beyonce added to the Z household bank account in 2010.
In March, Wayne responded to the verse by telling MTV that he wouldn’t “make it a competition” with Jay-Z, saying he “can’t box with the god,” but continued to say, “given my wit, and the type of person that I am, I’d capitalize and I’d play off of it.”
Fast forward to Wednesday when “Tha Carter IV” leaked. On “It’s Good,” Wayne counters Jay’s verse on “H•A•M,” rapping (and prepare for extreme censorship), “Talkin‘ about baby money, I got your baby money / Kidnap your b—-, get that how much you love your lady money / I know you fake n—-, press your brakes n—- / I’ll take you out, that’s a date, n—-.”
So you’re going to kidnap Beyonce and call Jay-Z fake? Let’s pump the brakes here, sir.
First off, one can’t deny Wayne’s starpower. His albums sell copies by the boatload, and “Tha Carter IV” is sure to be no exception when it drops on Aug. 29. “6 Foot 7 Foot,” the album’s lead single, has been a club hit since being released in December.
But since “Tha Carter III” in 2008, Wayne’s albums have fallen flat. Much of Wayne’s output has been light, silly fare without any sense of importance. After giving “Tha Carter IV” a listen, it seems that trend is continuing.
Now let’s look at Jay-Z, and not much needs to be said. Sure, his last solo album, “The Blueprint III,” was met with mixed reception, but we’re talking about quite possibly the biggest legend active in hip-hop today. “Watch the Throne” was a creative success, even if it didn’t quite measure up to the extravagant hype that built predating its release.
You can argue about money and such, but that’s silly. Jay has been around longer and is much more business-savvy than Wayne, so of course Jay has more money. Birdman hadn’t a clue what he was saying.
In actuality, it comes down to the music, as it should.
Wayne’s prominent use of zany non-sequiturs has given him a unique identity, but when he’s not rapping about chicken farts or aardvark poop, what else is there? Wayne is technically proficient, sure, but when he’s not being silly, I can’t help but find his output unoriginal.
Jay’s music carries a little bit more weight to it, which I’m all for. That’s not to say Wayne’s never does, but personally, I’d much rather listen to a well-produced album with a message than ugly-sounding, brainless drivel.
Jay is a living legend. Wayne, though popular in his own right, isn’t there yet. But is he trying? MTV reported shortly after the release of “Watch the Throne” that Wayne and Drake are partnering up on a collaboration album of their own.
I’ve listened to most of “Tha Carter IV” and I’m not impressed. Nothing about it is especially game-changing, and often times, Wayne’s verses fall into an abyss of unoriginality and generic rap excess.
In fact, I can’t help but find the bonus track “Mirror” to be the album’s best work. Sure, it might be pop fare that doesn’t go as hard as the rest of Wayne’s stuff, but the sense of emotion is something the rest of the album lacked.
Contrast that to “Watch the Throne,” which might not be Jay’s best work, but tracks like “Made in America” and “New Day” possess the musical craftsmanship lacking on “Tha Carter IV.”
And lest we forget that Wayne has collaborated with Jay before? Jay featured on “Mr. Carter,” a track on Wayne’s album, “Tha Carter III.” Wayne featured on “Hello Brooklyn 2.0,” a track on Jay-Z’s “American Gangster.” Where’s the respect, Mr. Wayne?
Fortunately, there’s little chance Jay will engage in such a battle with Wayne, though Jay did do battle with Nas in one of the most high-profile hip-hop battles of the last decade. And why should he? By all accounts, Nas got the best of him. And besides, Jay doesn’t need the publicity to sell records or make money, anyway.
But I digress. At this point in Wayne’s career, he has no room to call out Jay-Z. Simple as that. Jay is a living legend; the king of hip-hop, if you will. Until Wayne can consistently churn out products as great as “The Blueprint,” “The Black Album,” “American Gangster,” and so on, he’s going to be finding himself mired in a beef he has no hope of winning.