No homo, but I am an avowed Lil' Wayne dick-rider. So much so that I dead-seriously think someone should get to work on compiling a book-length edition of "The Poetry of Wayne Carter." Then, someone should follow that book with an accompanying critical study.
For the time being, you'll have to settle for what follows below: a list of the most ingenious lines of Weezy F. Baby according to me. Oh, and please, whatever you do, just don't forget to say the "Baby." It makes him really angry if you don't...Yeedig!
10. "Quick Draw McGraw. I went to art school." The first thing you should know about Lil' Wayne is that, like most rappers, he is a pathalogical liar. But unlike most other rappers, he doesn't do it for self-aggrandizement. He's willing to say anything about himself so long as it makes for a hot line. In that sense, he is a pure rapper in the Eminem or Red Man mold: everything is subjugated to the hotness of the line. Especially reality. Whereas other rappers who take themselves more seriously might have qualms about portraying themselves as art school graduates, Wayne does not. But the genius of Wayne is that you'd think that a tactic like lying pathalogically and not taking oneself seriously would help darken the line separating Wayne Carter the person from Lil' Wayne the rapper. But because he lies so often and so lucidly, and because he knows you're expecting him to lie, and because he seems to be Miles-Davis-post-"Bitch's Brew" crazy, it's nearly impossible to differentiate the person from the rapper these days.
9. "If hip-hop is dead, then I am the embalming fluid." After you get over the initial hotness of this line, which comes from his newish single "A Millie," you'll realize that this line makes absolutely no sense. Okay, let's see. If Wayne is embalming fluid, which is what is used to keep corpses from decomposing, then his role in hip-hop is to make something dead seem like it's still alive. Is it an admission of defeat? Beating a dead horse? There are better ways of saying one is a great rapper, so I'm led to believe that either this is a very profound bit of social criticism (and self-criticism), or it's Wayne's way of saying that people who say "hip-hop is dead" are just using words, so I'll use another word to describe myself: "embalming fluid."
8. "I am magnificent like Marcus. You might wanna fall back like August. Or late September whatever you call it." I'm excerpting this line from a freestyle that made its viral way around the interwebs a while back, when Lil' Wayne completely owned the beat from Jay-Z's "Show Me What You Got." I chose this line because it's a great example of the way he's never afraid of going off on tangents. Coming up with the "fall back like August" line might have been enough for 90% of people who call themselves rappers. But what makes Wayne very special, and more than just a rapper, is that he chases the August tangent into the next line, beating you to the punch of correcting him ("late September whatever you call it"), all while keeping it on beat and rhyming. He zigs when you think he's going to zag, and then he just does some other shit. Call him the Greatest Zogger Alive.
7. "Y'all boys too weak, like fourteen days." This line comes at the end of a sequence on Bun B's "Damn, I'm Cold," in which Wayne employs his own version of the familiar "counting rap" method. What's great about this one is that, like most of Wayne's best lines, it's not exactly double-sided. One side of the line makes an aural-verbal sense (too weak sounds like two weeks, which equals 14 days), but the other side, which is comparing "the boys" to "fourteen days" is complete nonsense. This is what makes Wayne special; he actually strives for that kind of absurdity. (Another example: "Handled the game so long, my thumb's bruised." WTF?) The only way this line could have been improved might have been by an ad-libbed "Fortnight muthafuckas!" in the background.
6. "Lampin in the Hamptons like 'What the fuck is a hammock?' The chef up in the kitchen like 'What the fuck is a sammich?'" This brief digression occurs in the middle of a freestyle over the "Knuck If You Buck" beat. It's part of one of those epic Wayne rants that strings together subjects as disparate as a female drug mule who speaks "Spanglish," a blizzard, dealing drugs in Iraq, and a mother who chides her son to hide his jewelry--and somehow it all makes perfect sense. What I love about this particular line, and a lot of the hottest Wayne lines, is his sly use of dialogue. It's also hilarious that he feigns ignorance about hammocks, which you can almost picture him laying in awkwardly, hollering from the yard at his annoyed, uncomprehending chef.
5. The Wayne Cackle. It's not a "line" of quotable music, per se, but the ominous comic book laugh that has become a Wayne trademark actually has a functional purpose. Let's say you're listening to one of his freestyles, trying desperately to catch every pop culture reference (Who is Magnificent Marcus?) he throws out. If you hear Wayne's cackle, and you don't understand why he's cackling, that means you missed something. It's like a footnote for which there's no actual note. But if you try several times and can't make sense of the pre-cackle line, it could also mean that he's just laughing because, unrelated to the song, he's thought of something funny. You never quite know with Wayne.
4. "The hurricane come and took my Louisiana home. And all I got in return was a durn country song." The genius of this line is subtle, but it all hinges on the word "durn." Wayne bends it not only to create the interior rhyme with "return," but also to make the word it's standing in for ("darn") sound more Southern and folksy, like a country song. A lesser, not-as-inventive rapper might have replaced "durn" with "stupid" or "fucking" or "damn." This is what your college literature teacher meant by fusing sound and sense, form and content.
3. "Safe sex is great sex. Better use a latex, 'cause you don't want that late text, that 'I think I'm late' text." This line makes me almost forgive him for subliminally marketing his own condom brand, whose advertising campaign has some eeriee, homoerotic undertones. (Lollicop!) What's not to appreciate about this line: the compressed cautionary narrative of fucking and late-night text getting, the interior rhyme at the beginning, the forked usage of "late," the ingenious coinage of "'I-think-I'm-late' text," and all of it wrapped in a conscious safe-sex message. Besides being a dope lyricist, Wayne knows how to deliver a great line, which is why you have to hear the song to understand how perfect the hectic interior rhymes of the first line slowly unfurl and slow down, like a condescending Sex Ed. teacher, on the "I think I'm late text" line. This is the closest Wayne will ever get to preaching, which is to say not close at all.
2. "How you want it? Show me my opponent [Chewing sound]. Shoeemyponent." This line from Wayne's dizzying final verse on "Stuntin' Like My Daddy" is the kind of line that no other human being but Wayne Carter can dream up. It will take some explaining for those unfamiliar with it. Basically, after he says the first "Show me my opponent," you hear some weird crunching sounds. It's only later, once Wayne repeats the line, rapping as though his mouth is full, that you realize what he's done: Wayne has just eaten his opponent. I barely know how to explain how brilliant that is. Wayne is one of the first rappers who has made noises an integral part of his rapping arsenal. See also: "She back it up like [truck backing up sound]."
1. "I'm headless. No mind. I can say 'Don't rhyme,' and it's gone rhyme." He's right. It does rhyme. And the message in this line is that not only does he do his best work when he's out of his mind, but that he's almost unable to control how good he is when he's in such a state. In lines like this, Wayne reminds me of that place the novelist Thomas Hardy wrote about where the writer's unconscious mind takes over. It's lines like this that make you wonder if he looks back over the page sometimes and wonders, "Shit. How did I come up with that?"
Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments.