November 1, 2009 Nick Engvall

Lil Wayne – Jail Time with No Ceiling

If you know me, you know I don’t often give too much attention to the direction that hip hop music has taken in recent years. Not that there hasn’t been a lot of good hip hop, but at this point in my life the meaning behind the message is more important than the way it makes my head nod. That has always been the case, but for the most part, I’ve been yearning for more, musically, from hip hop as of late.

Thanks to my friend George, over the last year or so I have been introduced to Lil Wayne. By no means was this my first “introduction” but if you’ve spoken with me before about Tupac, you understand the type of “introduction” I’m speaking of. George has the same passion for Wayne’s music that I have for Tupac’s music. Though their musical skill may be equally extensive, I think George would agree, their depths come from different areas. Until I listened to Wayne with George as his interpreter, I never heard him.

So now, after being sentenced to upwards of a year in jail, Wayne has recently dropped the No Ceilings Mixtape (which you can download for free over at LilWayneHQ). After listening to it a few times through, it is definitely classic Wayne with verses “so needles they could thread shirts” (see the track D.O.A). Wayne’s ability to tie in entertainment, pop culture, sports, and utter randomness, into describing how good of a rapper he is, is beyond anyone out. The depths of his creativity goes by the wayside to most listeners, myself included until really hearing him. Of course, most of what listeners hear are his tales of sexcapades and his magniloquent ego. Understanding that these two reciprocated subject matters do serve to reach two very important fan bases, guys, and girls. Girls always curious disgusted intrigued by a guy that brags of his sexual experiences, as long as there is a possibility of truth. As for the fellas, they love to be able to brag about the experiences to each other, which Wayne is obviously good at. As for capturing an audience, Wayne obviously has a code like Da Vinci (see the track Ice Cream Paint).

I have a particular passion for people making their voices heard to their audience, no matter how small or large that audience is. I also believe that people are in this world in order to make it better, no matter how minimal or phenomenal that betterment may be. Capturing an audience to listen, through hip hop music is not a challenge, making them hear your message is another story. Enter in the Tupac connection. Tupac spent a short time in jail just before the release of, in my opinion, one of the best albums of all time. Ironically, he also spent time in prison as the album released. Ironic, because Wayne will go on trial for another run-in with the law shortly, and likely be serving time after this first sentence is up. Tupac’s music, although still containing tracks to catch your average listeners, changed dramatically after his jail time. The time obviously provoked Shakur to look deeper into himself, and his own beliefs.

So, the obvious implication, that Wayne will gain a new perspective on life, when all the money, cars, clothes, and hoes I suppose, are gone for a while. More importantly, his children will likely become the subject of most of his thoughts and dare I say, writings. Wayne’s time won’t allow much of his “motivational” purple stuff, so the possibility of him actually writing his verses, rather than freestyling them, is pretty good. If anything the title of No Ceilings and the timing of Wayne’s sentence is undoubtedly ironic. Imagine if Lil Wayne were in jail with no ceiling, it would leave him with no choice but to look up…and likely (should I say hopefully?) enlighten him to find a more purposeful use for his voice. That would make me even more of a fan, and likely take him to a level he would never be able to attain on his current path.

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Nick Engvall

Nick Engvall is a sneaker enthusiast with over 15 years of experience in the footwear business. He has written for publications such as Complex, Sole Collector, and Sneaker News, helped companies like Eastbay, Finish Line, Foot Locker, StockX, and Stadium Goods better connect with their consumers, has an addiction to burritos and Sour Patch Kids, and owns way too many shoes for his own good.

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