Lil Wayne; The greatest worst rapper of all time

December 5, 2011

Political Theory

How do we classify great artists? Do we judge them in terms of the number of albums sold or based on the personal connection and depth that we discover in their music? The answer is actually very obvious; that human’s measure greatness through their own opinions, not statistics or what is told to them by the media. Soulja Boy is a perfect example of this concept. While his popularity skyrocketed from catchy songs such as “How to Crank That” and “Bammer, Bammer, Bammer,” Most hip-hop experts and casual listeners agree that his simple and repetitive lyrics provide superficial entertainment that will not yield long-term success.

Lil Wayne's love for money has become clear


So what makes Lil Wayne so good? With lyrics such as “Got 10 bathrooms I can shit all day” being very common in his music, Wayne has not only transcended bad rap, he has revolutionized the industry. As many individuals between the ages of 16-24 can attest to, whenever the radio was playing from the year 2006 to 2010, Wayne’s voice would be heard.  Many rappers, such as Jay-Z and Eminem, keep their lyrics exclusive and rarely appear on other artists’ tracks.  They fear becoming overexposed, so they reject Wayne’s narcissistic strategy


If every rap listener were to make a list of his or her favorite rappers of all time, each one would be immensely different due to a number of factors. The most important, and perhaps the most obvious reason, is that people have unique opinions and it is impossible for everyone to agree on such a subjective question. However, if one were to ask who is the most influential hip-hop artist of all time, that is a question that can be answered. Besides the logical choices such as Eminem, a white rapper who changed the demographic outlook of rap, or Jay-Z, the first artist to transform his gift to a global empire, who else but Lil Wayne would have to be mentioned when discussing this subject?  Wayne has routinely penned superficial lyrics, has collaborated on every possible song his record label could find, and has created many popular up-tempo verses. He showed the rap world that to become a legend one does not have to talk about deep issues.  Wayne has exemplified this truth by rapping about the quintessential pillars of his genre: money, women and physical possessions. In other words, Wayne has proved to us that in unique cases, quantity can prevail over quality.  However, Wayne is not only distinct because of the vast amount of music he creates; something in Wayne is simply just different. He has a confidence and swagger unmatched by anyone else.


" Arguably the three best rappers alive"

To understand how Wayne developed his swagger, we must compare his background to that of his counterparts. Like many other rappers, Wayne was born in the ghetto, raised by only his mother.  Similarly to other rappers, he began hustling at a young age in order to support his family.  The primary difference that separates Wayne from his peers is that he was signed to a record label at the ridiculously young age of 11.  Before he even went through puberty, Lil Wayne had proof that he was the best rapper his age.


So what would philosopher Amartya Sen think of Wayne’s success? He would not classify Wayne as being impoverished as a child, because he had the capabilities of every other human and was allowed to show them off.  Sen believes that poverty is a “deprivation of basic capabilities”, a circumstance that Wayne was not submerged in. He would view this rapper’s success as a great illustration that poverty is not the result of having a low income.  Conversely, it is a horrible situation that is spurred by a suppression of basic human rights.

So, when Wayne constantly boasts that he is “The greatest rapper of all time,” should we doubt that?








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4 Comments on “Lil Wayne; The greatest worst rapper of all time”

  1. rachdavidson Says:

    I genuinely think that Weezy (we are on a nickname basis) is one of the greatest rappers of all time. I think being great means being influential. Although Lil’ Wayne may not have the most intelligent lyrics (see: “lick me like a wrapper”), he has consistently been on the billboards top 100 for many years. How did he do this? He understands his audience. He has adapted his music for his listeners, and has a wide variety of style of rap, for example, “How to Love,” is so different from “A Milli.” He has the ability to make you feel that he just came up with the rhymes he is about to spit, even though they have been practiced and rehearsed over 100 times. Thus, we envy his confidence. He seems personable and approachable, but in a don’t mess with me because I am too good kind of way.

    And then there is the swag. How many 5′ 6″ guys do you know that could have a reputation as one of the biggest “gangstas” in the media? I would say just Lil’ Wayne. Every guy envies him, every girl has a secret thing for him. I am telling you, look in 100 girls dorm room, I am willing to bet that over 50 have Weezy posters up on there walls. I for one think he is without question the best rapper of our time (but then again, I am one of the girls that has a crush on him.)

  2. Rainyo Says:

    Personally, I don’t think Lil’ Wayne is one of the greatest rappers of all time, but he definitely has something going for him as a cultural icon. He floods the music industry with a wide array of feat. spots with various other artists, his ‘Tha Carter’ series are extremely successful, and he is slowly establishing a media empire all with him as the poster child. It is a bit funny, however, that this man has become popular by releasing songs entitled “Gonorrhea”, but hey, that’s what the people want. His style is not necessarily ‘deep’ and meaningful, but it’s just fun to listen to. And yeah, I respect the man for wanting to play with other musical styles, such as his moderately successful rock album. ‘Rebirth’.

    The thing is that no one can really pinpoint who is the greatest rapper because there are a variety of styles of rap music-you have the southern rappers like Gucci Mane and Lil’ Wayne, the intellectual storytellers, like Lupe Fiasco, and then you have the bizarre, like Tyler, The Creator and his OFWGKTA crew.

    All of these rappers will be remembered in the overall scheme of things, though, since they all bring something different to the table. They all assist in exhibiting the evolution of hip-hop ever since its origins from the 1979 track “Rapper’s Delight” by The Sugar Hill Gang.

    And there are always new up and comers to the rap game that are consistently re-defining the hip-hop genre. One of these rap artists is J. Cole, a North Carolina native who was the first artist to be signed to Jay-Z’s new record label, Roc Nation (he’s been dubbed Jay-Z’s protégé). This man is absolutely brilliant in how he can balance the ‘I’m better than you’ concepts of rap with deep, sophisticated storytelling, all the while executing his rhymes with a technical precision that leaves you speechless. This is the guy to watch out for in the coming years.

  3. mturner1013 Says:

    Personally, I think that Lil Wayne USED to be good. He is complete garbage now, and he just uses his fame, and his name to put out bad songs and CD’s because he knows that people will buy them. I think his lyrics now are very dumb, and you can plainly tell that he does not really care what is said as long as it rhymes and is catchy. I will agree though that Lil’ Wayne must still be mentioned when talking about big rappers, because, although lyricism may not be his skill, he excels at getting his name out there, and getting featured in almost every popular song. Any song that he is in has a knack for getting on the radio, and therefore translates to more fans. Wayne will be remembered of the king of mainstream hip hop, and although not the most talented, will still be recognized by all rappers.

  4. djavolio8 Says:

    Your comment on how it is impossible for people to agree on which rappers are best has been exemplified within the preceding comments as there is much disagreement between only three people. The one common consensus I typically find amongst people who actually know something about rap/hip-hop music, is that Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls are widely regarded as the top two rappers of all time. They were the first to really rap in a manner that we consider “modern” and they were the originators of east coast vs west coast rap allegiances. Tupac and Biggie rapped about what it was like to be a black male growing up underprivileged in a hood. The appealing part of their rhymes was when they spoke of how rap got them off the streets and into the national spotlight, which was a story that really motivated many inner city and/or underprivileged youths. What makes a rapper “good” today has really shifted away from the stories of struggles and onto the power and creativeness of metaphors. It is in that respect that rappers such as Lil Wayne have flourished. Best rapper alive? I’m not sure i’d say he’s in the top five but the only reason he’s in the top 5 is because Tupac and Biggie literally gave up their lives trying to further their careers.

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