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On Lil Wayne, 'Sorry 4 the Wait' and lofty, misguided expectations

How do you know when an album is done? When to stop?
You don't. When they tell you. When 'Tez call me and tell me and say, "You got such and such date is your deadline to stop," I be like, "Aight." 'Cause I never stop recording, obviously. So it's just on him to say, "Okay, stop. We're gonna pick these songs, and that's the album." That's how we do it.

Lil Wayne entrusts his long-time best friend and manager Cortez Bryant with the less exciting details of being a recording artist. The above answer, given to XXL recently, sounds familiar -- Wayne was saying the same thing around Tha Carter III's much-anticipated release. He's a well-known recording rat, an artist more concerned with accumulating material than piecing together a neat, concise LP tracklist.

So when Bryant made the call that Tha Carter IV would be delayed from June 21 to Aug. 29, Wayne knew he needed to temporarily appease his restless fanbase. Enter Sorry 4 the Wait, a literal apology (just like No Ceilings, Wayne works in the mixtape's title at the end of almost every song) for Tez pushing C4 back.

Sorry isn't No Ceilings II, and anyone with an expectation that lofty should consider the circumstances. Wayne planned No Ceilings as a reminder he could still rap (it came during full-blown Rebirth mode) and as a celebration of the beats he liked on the radio. No Ceilings has a polish Sorry lacks because the latter was a quick reaction to a business decision. This is why Wayne's rhymes (still sharper than he's given credit for, likely because of his stature) have a free-associative, overall off-the-cuff feel on Sorry. Pushing an anticipated release back is a corporate move, and Lil Wayne doesn't think or work that way. He responded the only way he knows how -- giving his fans free music.

If Sorry doesn't have you hitting the rewind button, at least give it a few days before you start vomiting that Wayne has fallen off or, even worse, needs to get back on drugs to sound good again. (Yes, that is a sentiment echoed by website commenters. Ironically, Wayne raps about smoking weed and drinking lean on Sorry more explicitly than he ever has, post-prison.) "Twist made me to do this (on "Sure Thing")." "Tez told me to do this (on the title track, which jacks Adele's "Rolling in the Deep")." These clues to Sorry's process -- his crew randomly shouting out instrumentals for him to rap over -- show the looseness behind the curtains.

And let’s not forget a rushed Lil Wayne mixtape is still more compelling than most rappers' albums, simply because he's a great, once-in-a-generation rapper. No one would call Sorry innovative, nor would they claim Wayne is pushing his artistic boundaries. But, and I can't stress this enough, that wasn't the point of the project! Wayne is well aware his fans have questions like, "What would Weezy sound like on 'Gucci Gucci'?" So he offers an answer, flipping Kreayshawn’s hook with ease: "Tunechi, Tunechi tote the toolie, f--- around and pop ya / My homies got that white girl, call it Lady Gaga." Wayne does this repeatedly on Sorry: he quickly finds the "Sure Thing" pocket with his elastic sing-slow flow; he injects some ice cold Nino Brown-swag on "Rollin'" and "Tupac Back"; he fulfills the drop-top potential of No I.D.'s "My Last" beat. The only major slip-ups are the "Inkredible Remix" (thanks, weed-carriers) and an awkward attempt at Drake's "Marvin's Room," which only further proves the theory that moody Drake songs are best left to Drake.

We're all growing impatient with Tha Carter IV's setbacks, Wayne included. So accept his apology -- a generous, stop-gap offering (what other major rap artist, on the eve of his second tour-leg starting, would feel bad enough to drop a thrown-together mixtape? I must have missed the Kanye/Jay-Z 12-track freebie) that cost you nothing more than 40 minutes of your time -- with a grain of salt. Anyone searching for clues that Sorry-Wayne is indicative of C4-Wayne is reaching, but what else could we expect in the age of knee-jerk Twitter reactions? The disappointment was loud and clear yesterday; that same clarity was missing when it came to keeping Sorry in perspective.

DOWNLOAD: Lil Wayne, Sorry 4 the Wait (CDQ)

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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