Let’s be completely arbitrary here and say that the first rock song was Fats Domino’s “The Fat Man” (1949) and the first hip-hop song was “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” (1970). That puts rap about 21 years behind rock, making 2010 the equivalent of 1989, an era of Bon Jovi, Motley Crue, New Kids on the Block — soulless music, neutered by commercialism and more concerned with appearance than sound. Interesting. You might infer from that analogy that there’s a hip-hop Kurt Cobain somewhere crafting an equivalent to Bleach. Or you might just ask why anyone would want to shoehorn hip-hop into rock’s shitty trajectory, that they’re two separate art forms that shouldn’t be pushed together. Excellent point; let’s start a petition and send it to Lil Wayne.
Dwayne Carter Jr.’s so-called rock album does feature plenty of guitars (most of them even competently played), but it also suggests that Weezy F. Baby reveres 30 Seconds to Mars and the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack like most rockers idolize Revolver or Nevermind the Bollocks. Wayne still treats the musical accompaniment as beats: Though his voice is Auto-Tuned till it sounds a little like singing (and a lot more like a supermarket price scanner) he’s mostly just talking over the pseudo-aggro pop-punk riffs and Cold War synthesizers. Wayne, to his credit, continues his record of making failure unexpected and interesting. He fucks up rap-rock in ways Linkin Park, POD, and even Faith No More couldn’t have conceived, and some of the guitar noodling is more accomplished than modern rock can generally muster (think Journey or sometimes Slash).
The songs themselves aren’t really worth discussing. “Prom Queen” is like Avril Lavigne’s “Skater Boi” from the gloating boi’s perspective, and “Ground Zero” makes a bunch of tasteless 9/11 references for no reason at all. The best song on the album is probably “The Price Is Wrong,” a track Blink 182 would’ve wiped their asses with (but still released) in 1996, back when a Happy Gilmore reference would’ve at least made since. If this is Wayne’s rock album, he’s got a low opinion of rock. Someone give him a copy of POS’s Never Better before he picks up another guitar. — Jeremy Martin