I just read a magazine article that f--ked up my day. OK, not exactly -- I'm having a pretty good day, but I just like to quote Jay Z whenever the opportunity comes up.
But the A/B-style op-ed that Complex published on Tuesday, titled "Will Young Thug’s 'Barter 6' Make Lil Wayne’s 'Carter V' Irrelevant?" did leave me scratching my head. The piece, penned by Justin Charity and Frazier Tharpe (shout to those guys), attempted to bring some perspective to Lil Wayne and Young Thug's rap beef. (I'm also sure the piece aimed to get passionate fans to click-in and express their displeasure, but this is the business that we're all in.)
Let Me Start From The Beginning -- At The Top Of The List
OK, let's recap really quickly: In 2012, Wayne announced that his upcoming Tha Carter V would be his final solo LP. Two years later, Thug told MTV News that he wanted to pick up the mantle from Weezy and release Carter VI through Carter X once the Young Money captain was done. Wayne then made headlines with accusations that his label was holding Carter V hostage, hitting Cash Money and label CEO/surrogate rap dad Birdman with a $51 million dollar lawsuit.
With label tensions high, Thug (backed by Birdman) announced he still planned to release Carter 6; Wayne objected and reportedly threatened legal action. In response, Thugger renamed his upcoming project Barter 6 ... and the *Internet explodes*.
Got it all? Good!
Yes, We're All Excited About Thug
Thug is new, exciting, inventive, musical as all hell and just generally talented. Sure, he has his detractors who write off anything that's different from the hip-hop they grew up on, but if we're being real with ourselves, Thug has a tremendous amount of upside.
I'm a fan. But then there's the extreme Thug fan -- the one who's all too ready to prematurely crown him rap's king, the type of fan who would compare him to the Beatles if he was a group, who would erase Lil Wayne's nearly 20-year career in a (trolling) effort to prove a point.
The Complex article not only questions Weezy's current relevance, it also fails to take into account all that he has done over almost two decades in hip-hop. Instead, the piece compares Wayne to "a 362-year-old Fidel Castro" and paints the picture of an MC who couldn't record a suitable album without the help of his proteges Nicki Minaj and Drake. Ouch!
The writers also say the reason Birdman won't put out Tha Carter V is because it isn't any good. The truth is, none of us know what C5 sounds like and there's a lot of personal (and financial) history between Baby and Weezy that undoubtedly contributes to whatever turmoil they're going through now.
In fact, I'd argue that Lil Wayne is one of the 10 greatest rappers of all-time (he's on my personal G.O.A.T. list), and he deserves much more respect.
Wayne Is Best When His Back Is To The Wall
But this isn't the first time Wayne has been counted out. Maybe the silver lining is that he's at his best when he's faced with adversity. He single-handedly kept the Cash Money ship afloat in the early 2000s after Juvenile, B.G. and Mannie Fresh jumped ship. Weezy didn't just become the biggest star on his label, he became the biggest star in hip-hop.
In 2007, when all of the songs from his Tha Carter III leaked online, Wayne turned around, packaged 16 more records and sold a million copies of his album -- in just one week. Someone go ask Slim Thug, Lloyd Banks and Lupe Fiasco about the negative effects of a leaky album. For Wayne to overcome that and go platinum in a week is just unreal.
And What About When Wayne Went To Jail For A Year?
Contrary to popular belief, jail doesn't make rappers hot. Tupac was a special case, but Shyne, Gucci Mane and even T.I. all faced roadblocks after coming home from the pen. But not Wayne. His first post-jail LP was Tha Carter IV and that sold about 960,000 copies in its first week of release, during a time when some were asking whether he was finished.
No, his latest mixtape, Sorry 4 the Wait 2, didn't live up to the usual Weezy expectations, but Tune also seems to deliver when the world thinks he can't. Oh, and have you heard his lyrics on "Truffle Butter" and "Smuckers"? I certainly wouldn't bet against him.
Weezy Doesn't Need No Stinkin' Feature
Then there's the declaration that "Lil Wayne couldn’t carry a solo rap project on his own, even if his career depended upon it."
Let's be real: No one buys a Lil Wayne album because of the features and the notion that he needs a bunch of guests to make his album interesting is laughable. Remember that stretch from 2004 (when he did Destiny's Child's "Soldier") to about 2011 (when he did Chris Brown's "Look at Me Now")? You know, when Weezy was the most in-demand artist in music?
Everyone from Kelly Rowland to Enrique Iglesias to Kanye West were lining up to get a 16 from Tune. Record companies were planning entire album roll-outs around whether or not they could get a Wayne feature.
Yes, Wayne albums are loaded with guests, but we'll file that one under 'Returning The Favor.'
Pick A Side
Rap beefs are ridiculously extreme and, as fans, we force other fans to pick sides -- even when there's no reason to do that.
Back in 2001, you couldn't possibly like both Jay Z and Nas. In the mid-1990s, there was no way you could champion 2Pac and do the same for the Notorious B.I.G. And back when 50 Cent came on the scene, you had to tuck all those Ja Rule CDs you bought ... until Kanye landed with Graduation 2007, when you had to disown Fif because #RapLogic.
Now, with Lil Wayne and Young Thug in the middle of 2015's biggest (but strangely passive-aggressive) rap beef, fans are once again picking sides. You're either Team Thug or Team Weezy.
Me, personally, I'm excited for Barter 6 and would love to see Thug really lay a foundation for years to come. But I won't ignore Lil Wayne's greatness in the process. Bring on Tha Carter V!