Words by Tony Grands
Before 2010, Lil Wayne had convinced the Hip Hop nation that he was the best rapper alive. In 2010, he dropped Rebirth (which I still believe must have been the result of a lost bet or a point he was trying to prove to his mom), which became a pivotal moment in his career.In hindsight, it may have been when Lil Wayne began to run out of things to say in his raps & got bored with the culture altogether. Of course that sounds far fetched, but if you factor in the amount of time he’s been rapping & the self-imposed creative box he broadcasts from, it’s quite feasible to think that, after so many years, he simply grew weary of running laps around the track. He wouldn’t be the first or the only rapper to experience such a thing, either. Hold that thought, though.
For years, the rap circuit worked similarly to the stand-up comedy circuit, in terms of it being the gateway to bigger & brighter stardom. Take Richard Pryor, for example. He began performing stand-up, moved on to bigger stages, & through his natural talent & artistic charisma, ended his career as a virtual movie star. The same storied template can be applied to Bill Cosby, Eddie Murphy, Bernie Mac, Adam Sandler, etc. In the same vein, during the 90’s, rappers made their names known, began reaching broader audiences, & eventually graduated to either the small or big screen, traveling onward from there. The last arguably great rapper to pull off this feat of hollywoodry was/is Will Smith. (Ice Cube is a close second.)
Entertainment is bigger than a singular genre of music. & when rappers begin to get complacent, redundant, or just plain obviously lack focus, I always wonder if they’ve overlooked grander opportunities for the sake of continuing to make rap records. Or even worse; maybe some rappers don’t perceive a career past rapping, & every album after the third one is nothing more than a virtual day’s work for the next paycheck.
Everybody can’t be Jay-Z, who has never ventured too far from the recording booth but has somehow always been in the “game.” Rap should be a springboard for most, unless you happen to possess the natural talent to sustain you otherwise.
Words by Tony Grands