Arts and Entertainment

Was Lil Wayne’s “Funeral” a Failed Experiment?

A review of Lil Wayne’s newest album, “Funeral.”

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Lil Wayne charted number one on the Billboard charts with his album “The Carter V” in 2018. This project was a long-awaited addition to Wayne’s legacy and comeback that concluded his career-defining “Carter” album series. Two years later in 2020, this veteran rapper has unexpectedly dropped “Funeral,” leaving audiences once again appreciative of his sustained success in the competitive hip-hop industry.

As always, Wayne displays his lyrical magic and ageless flow throughout this album with the assistance of many artists such as Big Sean, Lil Baby, and the late XXXTENTACION. “Trust Nobody,” for instance, features Adam Levine, who sings, “Two fingers, I keep ‘em crossed, I can’t be lookin’ for peace / I've been lookin’ at the stars, and they don’t glisten for me / I've been lookin’ in the mirror, he don't listen to me,” demonstrating the rapper’s remaining paranoia and anxiety with the career he’s made for himself.

The peak of this album is undeniably the title “Mahogany.” Wayne raps over a hypnotic hum of a woman who brings a unique jazzy vibe. His voice is dragged in and out of the song, keeping the listener on their toes, eager to hear what’s to come. Other standout songs include “Mama Mia” and “Bing James” ft. Jay Rock, both of which display classic Wayne melodies over beats that force you to put each song on repeat.

Unfortunately, while Wayne has some energetic tunes that will inevitably find their way into many fans’ playlists, this album simply lacks consistent, ground-breaking music. A lengthy album of 24 songs, the majority of tracks in “Funeral” follows a generic beat and fails to bring anything new to the table. “Dream” sounds like a sad attempt of a rock/rap hybrid, in which Wayne’s unusually cheesy lyrics fail to flow properly over a childish, snappy beat that sporadically transitions to Wayne yelling over a soft drum pattern. Similarly, Wayne’s verse in “Sights and Silencers” ft. The Dream was neither rapped nor sung and uncharacteristically fit into the veteran rapper’s R&B song. “Get Outta My Head” ft. XXXTENTACION began and ended in the blink of an eye, and the only thing listeners could recall was the screaming of XXX behind Wayne’s subpar rap.

In addition, this album has very few instances of a substantial storyline, so each song is an abrupt introduction to a new plot, making it difficult to understand the album’s purpose. It sounds like Wayne wrote 24 different songs with 24 different producers over an extended period of time and then compiled them into one large playlist. To some, this isn’t necessarily bad, but I wish Wayne lowered the number of tracks in this album so listeners wouldn’t be forced to weed out the experiments.

“Funeral” hasn’t garnered the same popularity as Wayne’s previous albums have, and this may be because of how he transitioned out of his old style. It’s clear that Wayne didn’t attempt to fulfill his fans’ expectations as he did with the “Carter” albums. In this album, we hear the music of an unrestricted artist breaking out and attempting to explore a modern take on hip-hop. Maybe it is simply too sad for me to see the OG rapper abandon his revolutionary music for a contemporary and overused hip-hop pattern on “Funeral.” We all know this is not an accurate display of Wayne’s full potential, so I truly hope “Funeral” isn’t the album Wayne decides to end his almost 30-year long career with.