Birdman & Lil’ Wayne
Like Father, Like Son
il’ Wayne loves to get away with shit: Ending weaved, 16-bar Mafioso image streams with slam-poetry juvenilia (“…and like ranch, I dip!”); releasing albums way, way too long (both Carters) with all the wrong singles and still converting Robert Christgau (at one time, the foremost gangster rap skeptic) and the bulk of nonbelievers. Comparing life to a Slinky.
Time for his most audacious act yet: attempting to carry Baby AKA Birdman AKA Wayne’s father-figure/godfather, and his deadweight, C-list-Too $hort drawl through an overstuffed Cash Money factory second. It goes about as well as expected.
If it weren’t for the hauntingly casual and caustic Dedication 2, the summer’s most indispensable mix-tape, there might be reason for concern: Carter III is coming soon, and this, along with its atrociously cheap-looking cover art, stirs up piles of worry.
Because while Wayne rarely chips in more than one verse per song on Like Father, Like Son, it’s still a nasty piece of buzz-killing friction. All of the worst qualities of Cash Money’s in-house production (tepid pitter-pat snares and floor toms, endlessly buttered horns and organs) and Baby’s verbal interests (rhyming “Ferrari” with “Bacardi”) are shoved to the front, while Wayne’s child solider scrabble (on weed: “blowin’ on begonias,” on guns: “and I keep the Mag on me like Homer!”) bleeds toward the edges.
“Don’t Die” and “Over Here Hustlin’” are based on older Wayne lines recycled as hooks (a bad habit he picked up from Three 6) and Baby aspirates jumpy, fat-cat plans—“one day I’mma buy a few buildings / Stop dealin’ and go and raise my children”—that flop along like parts of a dreary gangsta metronome.
Wayne, obviously, is the driving force between Like Father’s scant peaks. “Stuntin’ Like My Daddy” glides off Weezy’s literally adolescent smarm (“when I was sixteen I bought my first Mercedes Benz / I musta fucked a thousand bitches and a girlfriend”) and a baby-fat horn section. “Army Gunz,” the album’s best song, seems the same kind of verbally spliced pick-up game Weezy used on Birdman’s previous solo joint, the scraping, mucus-heavy Fast Money. Weezy totally ignores the song’s built-in 4/4 rhyme pattern and uses instead what can only be described as “the Dave Chappelle white guy voice.” He makes his voice more nasal, more deliberate, sharpening vowels, and starching up his threats: “I really think that it’d be better if / I just hit your block with that Beretta / And hop out and let her rip.” Hopping between vowels like lily pads, Wayne finds a few more harmless ways to let his id out—“Smokin’ on an ounce of that shit from the mountains / People say I need to stop / No, I need a counselor.”
But an album ballasted by the hapless and helpless Birdman needs more from Wayne than a few bubbly idiomatic excursions. Like Father’s hissing, leeching beats, where drum, bass and synthesizer are rendered indistinguishable in a vat of Pro Tooled plaque, need a demonic Wayne snarling at end rhymes and broiling up new similes. That kind of Weezy barely shows his face. Where is he? He’s the one running away from this mess of a heist, briefcase open, spilling money as he sprints for an exit. Let’s hope he’s saving the goods for III.