It's not as easy to rock as Lil Wayne thinks it is, as his oft-delayed "rock" record "Rebirth" (Cash Money / Universal) painfully proves.
For a rapper who can cut to the quick and shine with only the sparest of accompaniment, too much of "Rebirth" is bloated with Weezy noodling needlessly on his guitar the way many kids do when they first learn to play.
What makes "Rebirth" even more maddening than when he gets everything wrong - as he does in the faux-Evanescence "Runnin' " or the overindulgent "American Star" - is when Wayne gets everything right.
"Knockout" sounds like an ambitious update of Prince's great "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man" that kicks into a higher gear with an awesome freakout from Nicki Minaj. "On Fire" works an unlikely sample from Amy Holland's "She's on Fire" from the "Scarface" soundtrack into a nice groove. And "Drop the World" not only comes the closest to the kind of flash Weezy showed in the multiplatinum breakthrough of "Tha Carter III," but it also gives Eminem his most potent platform in years.
With songs this good on "Rebirth," why does Wayne makes us suffer through so much halfhearted, unworthy stuff? The annoying punk of "Get a Life" could have been written by countless new garage bands, while "Ground Zero" is like a clumsy Limp Bizkit reunion that no one wants.
The bright side is that now that "Rebirth" is out of the way and his jail sentence on felony gun charges is set to start next week, Weezy can hopefully soon focus once again on what he's great at - hip-hop.
LIL WAYNE: "Rebirth"
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THE GRADE: B-
BOTTOM LINE: Rap-rock that's mostly half-baked