Here’s a challenge for all the English and Lit degree holders, the self-described writers and poets, and anyone else out there who feels they have a better-than-average grasp on vocabulary, syntax, alliteration, and the “bulls eye of beauty” that Yeats claimed is required to paint visions through wordplay:

First, take the word “mahogany”. You got that? Ok, now, off the top of your head and with zero planning or preparation, come up with 12 lines of verse anchored by the word “mahogany” with each of those lines alluding to a separate object that is, or could be, of mahogany color. You have one minute. Ok, go!

How far did you get, genius? Most likely not that far, right? But do you know who has you beat by a mile? Lil Weezy, that’s who. On the track “Mahogany” from his completely bonkers new mixtape called Funeral. A track that was freestyled live in the studio. “We’ll call this one Mahogany, Blood.” Just cue up the beat and go. Let’s see how he did:

Mahogany dashboard, do the dash, boy
Mahogany handle on the gun in my hand, boy
Brains all over my mahogany dashboard
Mahogany airplane, I need an airport
Mahogany sand, boy, I start a sand storm
Mahogany skin touch me I cut your hands off
Mahogany door handle, to match the floor panel
Mahogany shirt, mahogany Dior sandals
Mahogany skateboard, I parked the Wraith for it
Louis mahogany bags for the bag boys
Under the skully, these bright mahogany dreads showin’
Let’s get in bed and break these mahogany head boards

Well, just like Weezey once rapped over a decade ago, when he was around 18: “Been in this game since a youngin’, you just shark food.”

But don’t take it too hard. Nearly all of us are shark food in the dadaist lyrical wreckage of Funeral. As a years-long Weezy fanatic, I must admit I love these types of scattershot Wayne tapes much more than the official Carter Series. They allow Weezy to stretch it out a little bit, to worry less about choruses or radio hooks, to really let his id run free. And that id sure does run wild all over this mindbending marathon of stunning lyricism. Yet unlike most rappers who stake a claim in the “lyrical” market, Young Wayne is never preachy, never overly verbose or showoff-y. He’s simply the best at what he does, the only being in a self-created lane, and here we find him really stomping down on that mahogany gas pedal.

I could go on, but it seems that every paragraph written about this thing, be they by other critics or this one, does absolutely nothing to describe the true cornucopia of lyrical delights awaiting those willing to dig in to this generous offering. So let’s do some more exercises, shall we?

Allright here’s one for anyone who has ever plunked themselves down in an overpriced coffee shop in North Brooklyn, The Head And The Heart or whatever playing softly on the sound system, to really put that MFA in Creative Writing to potent use. In 15 seconds come up with a 7-line verse that name checks four notable individuals with names ending in either “an” or “on” and list four specific actions, with the first and final verse both being anchored with “an”. Ready? Go.

Here’s what this MFA in Creative Writing holder (me, the person writing the article) came up with:

David Berman, Amy Shuman, about that action, run through Neuman’s, grill a dolphin……shit I’m out of time. Not very good, couldn’t even finish and who the hell is “Amy Shuman” and what is “Neuman’s”? Plus that whole grilling dolphins business…..it’s disturbing where the mind goes when a pretender comes up against the real thing.

Let’s see how Lil Wayne did with the same exercise on Funeral:

David Yurman, Erick Sermon, Pee-wee Herman, Tina Turner/buy it furnished, eat Italian, shop in Paris, drive a German

Bodied by Weezey once more.

Oh so you think those exercises were too complicated? Too little time given? Perhaps you suspect that Wayne may have been cheating by thinking them through beforehand? Ok how’s this? No time limit: Come up with three outright threats of physical harm that are genuinely funny. Have at it.

Are you finished? Do you have three cartoonish threats written down? Ok, this one will require some trust. Read over the three hilarious threats I’ve isolated from a random track on Funeral, in this case Track 3, “Mama Mia”:

What’s good, brother?
Beat ’round the bush and I’ma come around with a bush cutter 

Y’all lil’ ****** is some foot soldiers, I’m a foot fungus
You dead, brother

Or how about this one:

Your partners is poodles
Your bears is cubs, your crocodile’s toothless
Titty-fuck your baby mama
She breastfeed your child while I do it

If you have any ego whatsoever, you may try to claim that you’re threats are funnier than Wayne’s here. Look, humor is in the eye of the beholder, but chances are your crocodile really is toothless when trying to go pen-to-pen with The King.

At the end of the day these exercises really aren’t fair. It’s putting a freshman creative non-fiction enthusiast in The Dream Machine with ’70s-era William S. Burroughs. So how about I just click through the rest of these tracks and give some examples of the stunning lyrical dexterity, postmodern humor, and dadaist instincts on full display in every crevice of this mixtape.

Here’s a stretch from “I Do It:

No disrespect, I bust down the noose
Put it on my neck, now my neck is a nuisance 
I am a mess, I am a mutant 
Bullets go through your vest like it’s translucent
I smoke the best exclusive
I’m somewhere else secluded 

And from “Stop Playin’ Me”:

Ooh, I’ve been feelin’ like a killer since the diapers
I’ve been feelin’ like a hitter since the minors
Sticky icky like a itsy bitsy spider
They say to be or not to be, bitch, I’m indecisive

Now on to “Bing James”:

Motion picture shit, at you with my .40 Glock
When I’m on my savage shit, bodies on that blacktop 
Weapons in the stash box,  keep a couple lamb chops 
All we serve is hearses, you don’t get no ambulance ride
All we know is big B’s, yeah, you know, that’s gang, gang
This ain’t what you want, you don’t wanna lose your brain, brain
Focused on this bag now, yeah we from the projects 
We got that PTSD like some Vietnam vets

Moving right along to “Not Me”:

You know wifey from Australia, she said, “Cheers, mate”
Then we toast and see how you ******’ tears taste
Mix the soda and codeine, that’s a mixtape

Disclosure: We’re going to skip the Adam Levine song because, like all things Adam Levine, it sucks to the point where not even Weezey can save it.

But we will absolutely point out this narcotic stretch on “Wild Dogs”:

Percs get popped, boy, yes I’m a hostage
Xanny get popped too, that’s for my conscience
Addy get popped too, now I’m a zombie
Muscle relaxant, that’s for my posture
I’ma do acid, now I’m obnoxious
Sip cotton candy, pop Oxycontin
Hold you for ransom, now you the hostage

“Ball Hard” is particularly insane:

Drink all muddy, flag all bloody
I’m killin’ these hoes like that ***** Ted Bundy
I’m a good looking rapper, I ain’t tryna stunt
Ima fire my blunt like Donald Trump

And then there’s “Bastard”:

I’m on the turnpike, I’m ’bout to turn off
Weed loud as every siren they turn on
Bust down so bright, it’s burning
These diamonds so white, they German
Your diamonds ain’t rock, they turning
Cocaine white as my attorney

“Piano Trap”, anyone?:

I’ma thank God for my existence
I’ma thank God for my charisma
I’ma thank God that I’m in the business
And I’ma thank God I’m not in the system
I’ma thank God for the pots I had to piss in
I’ma thank God for the times I done risked it
I’ma thank God for workin’ out the logistics
I’ma thank God that I’m not a statistic
All of my jewelry is fuckin’ ridiculous
I cannot really be seriously serious
All of my goons take everything serious
Run in the building and kill your superiors
Killin’ the staff and kill the affiliates
Smokin’ this gas just like it’s some helium
I see y’all ass all in my peripheral
Hop in that, hop in that like an amphibian

Or how about “Line Em Up”:

She say I got a vanilla aftertaste
Cut his face, let him use his blood for his aftershave
Harrell Park, it ain’t nothin’ like South Park
Pistol whip you ’til you know the serial number by heart
Sit the chop on top your nose, if you sneeze, I squeeze 
Got them extra extendos, call them Eazy-Es
Uzis, .223’s, TEC’s, semi-automatic, reflex
Bullet ain’t got no name, but these no-names ain’t got no respect
Put some respect on my name, don’t know where I got that from
Mad scientist in this bitch, don’t even know what I’m mad for

I’m especially partial to this hippie-shout-out rant from the second-to-last track, “T.O.”:

I’m smokin’ like I’m in the Netherlands
Like I’m a hippie that’s stuck in the 70s
You with your buddies, I’m with my bloodies
And this ain’t no flag, lil’ *****, this rugby
Duct-tape that ***** up until he a mummy
Then put him in a freezer until we get hungry

As for this victory lap of a tape’s victory lap closer, well, it’s incredible that Wayne hasn’t riffed on the “Wayne’s World” theme in the past, but he sure makes up for lost time with a final uncorking of his wild-eyed id:

I’m with my Mexican, gang-bangin’ heavily 
Throw up your set at me, that I don’t recommend 
I pull up in the Bugatti, we not gon’ bother
And in the trunk, we got the elephant
Know who you F’in’ with, they don’t know where you went
Then they won’t find you until you are skeleton
They bite piranhas and stung by the jellyfish
These ain’t no All-Stars, bitch, these is Vetements
Party time excellent, pardon my excellence
Pardon my necklace, pardon my neck and wrist
Pardon my neckin’ bitch, all of my medicine
All I be askin’ is, “Where the Promethazine?”

Finally free of Cash Money Records, finally free from weighty statement albums and pop radio pushes, and most importantly free from the rabid, eye-in-the-sky intrusion of intensive pop cultural hero worship, Lil Wayne is now in the position to carpet bomb us with overlong, slapdash fits of lyrical shenanigans like the ones found on Funeral. He’s obviously having a blast, making this easily the most joyous and deliriously fun record I’ve heard for quite a long time. Keep em’ comin’, Weezey.

 

Daniel Falatko