Lil Wayne is a legendary rapper that needs no introduction at this point. Yesterday, he released his highly anticipated 19th mixtape, NO CEILINGS 3. Being the third installment of this acclaimed series, Tunechi enlisted the services of DJ Khaled to up the ante with his hosting ability. In a year filled with lukewarm reception from his Funeral and Carter V Deluxe albums, can mixtape Weezy reclaim dominance?
In No Ceilings fashion, Lil Wayne is reaching deep into his bag as he continues to prove that he is still more than capable lyrically. Cuts like “V8” and “PEGGY BUNDY” waste no time doing this as the 38-year-old’s firing in all categories as his flow, cadence, and wordplay are the most creative they’ve been since Tha Carter V. Still, these peaks are drowned out by a handful of weird creative choices. Whether it’s his slowed up-flow on “COMME DE GARCON” or the straight-up copies of “FOR THE NIGHT” and “LIFE IS GOOD”s vocal sections, it feels like I’m listening to Lil Wayne covers as opposed to reimagined hits. When it comes to rapping over popular instrumentals, Wayne’s at his lowest on “SOMETHING DIFFERENT”, “CHURCH”, and “DRIVE BYS” which are all painfully forgettable. In this regard, “OUT WEST” is the ultimate low point as between the abysmal Young Thug verse and Wayne’s dull performance, there’s little to enjoy here. While those records at least had the notoriety of their sonic counterparts, the original moments on this tape are even more lackluster as cuts like the grossly melodic “DEEP END”, and the bland but eccentric “AFRO” have few redeeming traits. My last complaint with NO CEILINGS 3 are the songs featuring Wayne’s son Lil Tune. While his subject matter is surprisingly potent for a kid, between the audio quality and delivery, his verses sound like someone freestyling in an X-Box 360 party. Although these criticisms plague the tape, the Drake featured “BB KING FREESTYLE”, and Jay-Z inspired “LAMAR” are some of Wayne’s best mixtape moments in years. Unfortunately, Lil Wayne’s performance here is far from his worst, but it’s nothing to write home about.
Behind the boards, the array of carbon copies and slight remixes of established hits makes NO CEILINGS 3 certainly easier to get into but also harder to remember. Whether its Lil Baby’s “We Paid” as “V8” or Drake’s “Laugh Now Cry Later” as “SOMETHING DIFFERENT”, it’s ultimately left up to Wayne to sell the listener on his adaptation of these cuts, but as previously stated it fails most of the time. On top of this, DJ Khaled’s obnoxious screaming only adds head scratches and eye rolls to an already crumbling experience. Despite its failures, the few payoffs of Lil Wayne bodying someone’s beat feel super rewarding and make this landfill of music worth skirmishing through. Most prominent on the Kanye West-produced “Takeover”(aka “LAMAR”), hearing Weezy rewrite the fate of a 19 year old diss track is the epitome of the top-notch artistry. With all of its a-list instrumentals, “BB KING FREESTYLE” was a surefire standout as its mellow background vocals and smooth Moroccan drums embody the luxurious feel its lyrics convey. As a whole, the mixtape’s soundscape sadly feels like a cheap repackaging of hip hop’s top charts.
In conclusion, NO CEILINGS 3 manages to be even more disappointing than its already scrutinized predecessor. With little creativity and few memorable moments, it’s easy to dismiss the tape into the lower graces of Wayne’s rocky catalog. In retrospect, its clear 2020 was one of the worst years of Lil Wayne’s entire career as all three of his releases failed to transcend listeners. In an effort to avoid this from happening again, I hope the once renowned MC can start to think out of the box and create something that will separate himself from the rest of the culture.
- Wayne fits well onto many of the already popular instrumentals
- Amazing Drake feature
- Flashes of greatness
- Doesn’t make any songs memorable
- Orignal cuts are mostly terrible
- So many odd choices
- Lil Tune isn’t ready for the major leagues
Written by: Marc Dator
Scored and edited by: Marc Dator founder and owner of Fantastic Hip Hop