MUSIC

"Funeral" Is Just One Big Flex, but Lil Wayne Deserves It

The emcee's 13th album can be a slog, but it's filled with offerings that regularly remind us why he's still the greatest rapper alive.

On Lil Wayne's 24-track data dump Funeral, the legendary emcee uses its lethargic run-time for the sole purpose of flexing.

Moments of self-reflection are scarce, and while it's great to hear a refreshed Weezy craft a handful of new, ludicrous lines like, "Got Siri f*ckin' Alexa, me and my dawgs pull up in a Tesla," the 75-minute venture leaves little breathing room when ingested as a whole. Die-hard Wayne fans will enjoy the outing, as Wayne's signature braggadocio is in full force for a majority of the project. But similarly to Eminem's Music to Be Murdered By, Funeral is less an album and more a vessel for Wayne to merely demonstrate ostentation.

He uses his witty lyricism to rap about drugs, cars, money, sex, and not much else. He teases moments of self-reflection on tracks like "Dreams," only to aggressively say "just kidding" and continue the trend: "I had a dream I was broke, no diamond and no gold...I woke up and I screamed thank God it was just a dream! I live the American dream..." The never-ending braggadocio can become repetitive and exhausting, but Wayne's career-defining moments have always been when he decimates the microphone. He bounces effortlessly alongside Takeoff on "I Don't Sleep," "I Do It" is a surprisingly refreshing melting pot of Hip-Hop generations new and old, and "Mahogany" is a strong contender for "A Milli" part 2.

Ironically it's when Weezy does decide to lift his foot off the gas that the album truly suffers. "Trust Nobody," featuring a vanilla hook from the uber vanilla Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, and "Sights and Silencers" suffer from a similar cheesy dilemma. There is a stark amount of variety on the project, and it doesn't help that when Wayne does decide to switch it up the result is boring (although "Nevermind" brings back nostalgic memories of Tha Carter IV's "How To Love").

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But on "Bastard (Satan's Kid)" it seems to all come into balance. The track is a fleeting moment of haunting reflection from the greatest rapper alive and paints a disturbing portrait of the people that raised him. "Uncle used to say, 'Your daddy just too young to raise a kid,' Daddy used to treat my mama like they never made a kid," he raps over ghostly 808s. Wayne has been on top for the better part of a decade, but that decade has been consumed with vicious legal fights, personal heartbreaks, and crippling addiction. Through it all, he has prospered, and it's a brief reminder, either to the listeners or himself, that he's a child of trauma, that he's always fighting for respect he is regularly told he doesn't deserve. The least we can do is let him flex his chops. "It's been quite a journey," he says as the track fades out.

Funeral

Culture Feature

Drew Brees Exemplifies How NOT to Be a White Ally

The quarterback said "I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country." And then he tried to apologize. And only made it worse.

Drew Brees, a man who makes literally millions of dollars for throwing a ball, has come under fire for insensitive comments he made about NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem to protest police brutality.

"I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country," Brees said in the interview with Yahoo Finance. He clarified that this was in part because he envisioned his grandfathers, who fought in World War II, during the National Anthem. He continued, saying, "And is everything right with our country right now? No. It's not. We still have a long way to go. But I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together. We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution."

This isn't the first time Brees made it clear that he cares more for the idea of a make-believe unified America than he does for actual human lives. In 2016, he criticized Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the anthem, saying it was "disrespectful to the American flag" and "an oxymoron" because the flag gave critics the right to speak out in the first place.


Colin Kaepernick Kneeling Colin Kaepernick kneeling in protest of racist police brutality


Of course, the flag's alleged ideals have been proven to only be applicable to wealthy, white men—men like Brees. Sure, his grandfathers did a noble thing when they fought under the US flag during WWII, and no one, including Kaepernick, has ever said that sacrifice isn't worth respecting. Thanks to the sacrifices of many people (including the enslaved Black backs upon which this country was built, including the scores of routinely abused Black soldiers who fought for American lives), America has offered opportunity and peace for many, many people. In particular, Ole' Glory has been very kind to men like Brees: rich, white men who still control the majority of the power and the wealth in the United States.

But what about the rest of us, Drew? What about George Floyd whose neck was crushed by a police officer who kneeled on him so casually that he didn't even take his hand out of his pocket? What about Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot for the crime of being Black and going for a jog? What about Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was murdered by police in her home in the middle of the night for a crime that had nothing to do with her? What about Tony McDade, Drew–have you heard his name? Have you heard about the 38-year-old Black trans man who was gunned down in Florida last week? Do you understand why these people's family's may harbor just a bit of disrespect for your precious flag?

Is it possible for you to realize, Drew, that your wish for "unity" is not a wish for progress, but a wish to maintain the status quo? When you call for unity under the American flag, you're talking about your flag, the flag that represents a long, sordid history of racial oppression and violence. There is no unity where there is no justice. When you say that "we are all in this together," what you're saying is that we all have roles to play in the version of society that has served you so well. For your part, you'll be a rich, white man, and for Black people's part, they'll continue to be victims of state-sanctioned murders– but hopefully more quietly, hopefully in a manner that doesn't make you uncomfortable?

When you say, "We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution," what you mean to say is that POC and their allies are at fault. Sure, you probably agree that Derek Chauvin took it a bit too far, and you probably feel a little self-conscious that he's brought all this "Black rights" stuff up again. But when you say "all," you place blame on the victims who are dying under a broken system. And what, exactly, do you expect POC to do differently, Drew? Ahmaud Arbery was just out jogging, and still he died. George Floyd was just trying to pay a cashier, and still he died. POC and their allies try to peacefully protest by marching in the streets or taking a knee at a football game, and still white people condemn and criticize. Still the police shoot.

After much criticism, Brees did attempt an apology on Instagram, where he posted a hilariously corny stock photo of a Black and white hand clasped together. His caption, though possibly well-intentioned, made it even clearer that his understanding of the movement for Black lives is thoroughly lacking.


Highlights of the "apology" include his immediate attempt to exonerate himself from culpability, claiming that his words were misconstrued, saying of his previous statement: "Those words have become divisive and hurtful and have misled people into believing that somehow I am an enemy. This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character." Unfortunately, Drew, white people like you are the "enemy," as you put it, because by default you are at the very least part of the problem. No one is accusing you of being an overt racist, Drew; no one thinks you actively and consciously detest Black people. But your lack of empathy, your apathy, and your unwillingness to unlearn your own biases are precisely what has persisted in the hearts and minds of well-meaning white Americans for centuries.

Next, you say, "I recognize that I am part of the solution and can be a leader for the Black community in this movement." No, Drew. Just no. Black people don't need white people's savior complexes to interfere in their organizing; what they need is for us to shut up and listen. What they need is for us to get our knees off of their necks.

Finally, you say, "I have ALWAYS been an ally, never an enemy." This, Drew, is suspiciously similar to saying, "But I'm one of the good whites!" The fact of the matter is that feeling the need to prove your allyship is not about helping a movement; it's about feeding your own ego. Not only that, but your emphasis on "ALWAYS" does a pretty good job of making it clear that you don't think you have a racist bone in your body and that you have taken great offense at any accusations to the contrary. I have some news for you, Drew: Every white person is racist. Sure, the levels vary, and while you may not be actively and consciously discriminating against POC, you have been brought up in a racist system, and your implicit biases are as strong as any other white person's. Your job now is to unlearn those biases and confront those subtle prejudices in yourself and in other white people. Maybe the first step in doing so is just shutting your f*cking mouth about kneeling at football games. Maybe you should even consider taking a knee yourself.

For other non-BIPOC trying to be better allies, check out one of these 68+ anti-racism resources.

MUSIC

Curren$y Returns To Burnie's Like He Never Left

The album reaffirms Curren$y's lyrical consistency, and reminds us of his monumental prowess in 2019

C.J. Wallis

In 2011, Curren$y's album Weekend at Burnie's was one of the dignified emcee's most cohesive projects.

Curren$y - Still feat. Trademark & Young Roddy (Official Video) www.youtube.com

It was still a Curren$y record at its core, with the rapper continuing to exemplify a proficiency in woozy, nonchalant narratives. "Them haters tryna deplete my shine like Venetian blinds," he rhymes, "but son do what the sun do: rise." However, Weekend at Burnie's awoke the mainstream public to the prolific talent of Curren$y. It was the rapper's fifth album and fourth release of 2011. Every single project was critically lauded and slowly chipped away at the presupposition that "Spitta Andretti" was merely a weed rapper. "To focus on [Curren$y's] cannabis appetite is to ignore some of the things that make him one of the more dependable working rappers," wrote Pitchfork.

Over the last decade, the veteran emcee has only ramped up his musical output and workload, even after becoming a parent last year. On Back At Burnie's, the long-awaited sequel and eighth Curren$y outing of 2019, the rapper closes out his decade with a project that is both equanimous and stately. Curren$y sounds right at home, his Hip-Hop anecdotes remaining equivalent to an insouciant shrug. But a lot has changed since 2011, and Curren$y knows that is worth noting. "My first ride in a phantom was with my homie Lil Wayne," Spitta reflects on "All Work." "Now I got one myself, and I'm ridin' in my own lane." 2011's "Money Machine" found Curren$y asking politely to be invited to the party and to "reserve him somewhere" to park, but on 2019's "Money Is a Drug," Curren$y acknowledges that eight years later he can "park his sh*t anywhere." The perks of fame are pedestrian to Spitta, his lucrative lifestyle so normal now that's it's barely worth the commentary. "Pinky rings, diamond chains, just a gang of players having things," he says with composure on "Arrangement."

Curren$y - Money Is A Drug (Audio) www.youtube.com

Spitta Andretti remains as accredited, if not more so, than a majority of today's most elite rappers, but he has adamantly avoided the mainstream spotlight that has shone on a countless number of his friends. But he's forever remained in their confidence, offering his wisdom, collaborative kinship, and car advice whenever they need it. He was one of Cash Money's original members and has worked with everyone from Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa, Snoop Dogg, Juicy J, and Rick Ross to Westside Gunn, Freddie Gibbs, and Madeintyo.

Over a decade later, he remains a monumental presence in Hip-Hop, and on Back At Burnie's reminds listeners of his unshakeable authenticity: "I never switched the sauce, been myself from square one." But fret not, as it wouldn't be a Curren$y album without its moments of quirky syntax. "I talked a mermaid out of the water the other day," he flexes on "Nautica." "All on my yacht, we lit up the pot, floated away." Maybe it's lyrical honesty, perhaps it's just intelligent story-telling, but regardless, when Curren$y says it, he always means it.