Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Album Review: Lil Wayne - No Ceilings 3 (A Side)

Lil Wayne
No Ceilings 3 (A Side)
** out of *****

Lil Wayne has been performing for decades and released some solid records, but perhaps his peak came with the release of his 2009 mixtape No Ceilings. The album was a tour-de-force as Wayne used beats from everyone from Gucci Mane to Fabolous and owned each and every tune with a confidence via X-Rated assaults and humor.   

He continued the series in 2015 with No Ceilings 2 and now comes the next installment of No Ceilings 3 (A Side). The record isn't as varied or consistent as past entries into the series and Wayne, while still stringing together a few dazzling lines, doesn't deliver a memorable or lively full length listen. 

The album opens with DJ Kahled shouting out Wayne and himself, playing like an old school mixtape as the flow of consciousnesses lyric stream spill out over the depressing beats of "V8". Wayne is rhyming strongly as he keeps dropping line after line before Drake joins for "BB King Freestyle".

The best track on the whole record is Weezy's take on Jay-Z's "Takeover" as he uses the big beats to boast with the best of them. It is one of the few upbeat tracks on the record which pumps up the energy. After the tune the record dips into more morose inner looking tracks from Drake, Pop Smoke and Future.   

Wayne is not at his strongest throughout but a fun guest spot from Euro, HoodyBaby & Gudda Gudda on "Church" punch things up while YD and Cory Gunz show up to enliven "3 Headed Goat". Tracks like the overloaded auto-tuned minimalist R&B of "Deep End" and skittering stop start of "2 Diamonds".

Lil Wayne's favorite guests on the album have to be his sons as  Lil Tune joins for "Fl4m3$", Young Carter, on the piano laced "Hollywood" and Young Kam Carter who shows up for "Kam" as all them mimick his dads style. "Afro" uses the bass heavy slow bounce of "No Dribble" from DaBaby to end the album on a positive note.   

Wayne takes precautions and makes an effort to always sound like what is currently going on in hip hop, always following trends rather than starting them so the mixtape style is where he excels. Unfortunately No Ceilings 3 (A Side) represents the modern state of hip hop feeling sluggish, stale and light musically. Lil Wayne still expertly plays with vocabulary, but no song here redefines the original or invigorates the listener to get down or even revisit once it concludes.      
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