Written by Andrew Winistorfer of Vinyl In Alphabetical.
Back when Lil Wayne was trying to make people forget his time riding the bench as, at best, the second most impressive Hot Boy, the Dedication mixtape series served an important function. It proved to non-believers that Weezy F. couldcrush beats that other rappers turned into hits, and that if he could only procure the same quality production as T.I., Snoop Dogg and State Property, his boasts of being the Best Rapper Alive would finally be validated. When people were outraged with Rebirth, it was only because Wayne once churned out mixtapes like Dedication 2.
So why go back to allowing DJ Drama to step all over his music, now that he’s indisputably the best-selling rapper on Earth? Mostly because the overzealous fanbase responsible for making Weezy that commercial monster aren’t on board with his new knee-high socking, skateboarding, autotuning, vapid punchlining persona, and Wayne knows that the imprimatur of the Dedication series implies that he won’t be doing songs like “Prom Queen” or “Popular,” and that it’s going to be free from the commercial shackles of Tha Carter series.
At least that’s what you’re lead to believe, as if the third installment of the series wasn’t the worst Lil Wayne album until Rebirth came along and made you forget that the codeined husk of Lil Wayne once did a mixtape that had five unconscionable Jae Millz features. If there’s a major selling point to Dedication 4, it’s that; at least it isn’t a repository for Jae Millz features.
But it’s not a return to Dedication 2, either. What possible function does being the 4,372nd rapper to “go in” over the “Mercy” beat serve Lil Wayne at this point? He certainly could have purchased the original if he wanted, right? Or at least not paid the producer properly and gotten sued at a later date. I can’t imagine that, while they were downloading this project, Weezy diehards were celebrating the opportunity to hear him deliver the yuckiest sex rhymes in recent memory over several Future tracks that were superior in their original forms. It is 2012, and Lil Wayne has trouble bodying a robot from Atlanta who happens to rap. It is 2012, and the best instrumental Lil Wayne can find to rap over is “Cashing Out.” It is 2012, and Lil Wayne has trouble besting a song by a 16-year-old orphan from Chicago. It’s 2012, and Lil Wayne isn’t even the Best Rapper Alive on his own vanity imprint.
The problem with Dedication 4 is Weezy himself. Where he used to use the Dedication series for his most gonzo freestyles — dealing with the overflow that was his mental rhymebook circa 2006 — for something like the seventh release, he seems tired, worn out, and out of anything approaching his mid ‘00s run as the legitimate Best Rapper Alive. Dedication 4 might have stolen the Egregious-Punchlines-Encroaching-My-Twitter-Feed title belt for roughly an hour after its release, but at best it exposes Lil Wayne as a sub-2 Chainz guffaw rapper. Suffering through this entire tape requires true dedication.