LIL WAYNE AND DJ DRAMA
As much as Lil Wayne 's "Carter" album series has defined his post-Hot Boys climb into the hip-hop stratosphere, his "Dedication" mixtapes with DJ Drama have proven just as crucial to his reinvention; in particular, 2006's "Dedication 2" was a thrilling follow-up to "Tha Carter II" that expanded upon that rock-solid offering. So barely a year after his mega-selling but lackluster "Tha Carter IV," Lil Wayne is back with the equally confounding "Dedication 4," a messy rehashing of this year's respective rap bangers. Dubious choices abound, and that's not even including Nicki Minaj's misplaced Mitt Romney "endorsement" on "Mercy": 13-year-old rapper Lil Mouse assists on the lame-brained "Get Smoked," while two Meek Mill beats, "Burn" and "Amen," are curiously placed side-by-side on the track list. Meanwhile, Lil Wayne's hook-baiting flow shines when he hits his extra gear, as on the second half of "Cashed Out," but Weezy often resorts to spitting nonsensical sex expositions and hashtag-ready weed boasts. On his version of 2 Chainz and Drake's "No Lie," for instance, Wayne's flow is capable but unmemorable ("Four baby mamas, no baby mama drama/Bad bitch at home asleep, I go home and sleep behind her") -- compared to 2 Chainz's instantly quotable version, this new take is practically obsolete. Still a skateboard-carrying cartoon as the "Dedication 4" cover art suggests, Lil Wayne is in need of a creatively rejuvenating project, and this tape isn't it.