FYI.

This story is over 5 years old.

A Year of Lil Wayne: "I Am Not a Human Being"

With the title track to 'I Am Not a Human Being,' Wayne laid out a specific agenda of what this rock star alien rapper character might entail.

Day 71: "I Am Not a Human Being" –  I Am Not a Human Being , 2010

Attention is rarely paid to Lil Wayne's 2010 album I Am Not a Human Being, which was released while he was incarcerated and therefore composed mostly of odds and ends assembled from what he had recorded prior. It was seen at the time as an obvious cash grab, and that reputation has, if anything, become more entrenched in the interim, even if the album did have some minor hits and does feature several notable contributions from future superstars Drake and Nicki Minaj (offset considerably by the less notable contributions of Young Money bench players like Lil Twist and Lil Chuckee).

Advertisement

Yet attention is due to this album, and in particular the title track, if for no other reason than that phrase, "I am not a human being," is so clearly Wayne telling us how he would like to be perceived. There's a reason that he named two albums and a song that way. And it's obvious that the aesthetic that he landed on around this time has dictated just about everything since—just watch the video for "My Homies Still" or look at a piece of Trukfit clothing. Of course, this aesthetic of rock star alien was in the works many years earlier: The guitar and rock side had emerged by 2006, and the alien/goblin thing was fully entrenched in the following years with "A Milli" and "Phone Home." Before this album, as his final statement before prison, he released the rock album Rebirth.

With the title track of I Am Not a Human Being, Wayne came back to rap. But he also laid out a specific agenda of what this rock star alien rapper character might entail. It included pranks and mischief from the first line, which goes, "pussy for lunch, pop all the balloons and spit in the punch." It involved being the "rhyming Oasis," which is, the heavy guitars on the hook remind you, a rock band. It was not being "basic" (ah, remember 2014, when white girls argued about that word like it had just been invented? Simpler times). There were clever punchlines, of course—"balling with my bloods, call that b-ball"; "name a motherfucker deeper than me, bitch dead / you dig?"; "my money on et cetera… three dots"; "and you know I'm riding with the toast, cheers"—but those are a given (and there's a few clunkers in there, not that I would ever slander the good, chocolatey name of the 3 Musketeers candy bar).

Wayne had been an otherworldly rapper for a while, but now he was making it literal. These days, most kids surely see Wayne in this vein, as the martian rapper, the goblin rapper, the rock star skater guy. He's been getting back to his roots a bit recently, but the idea of him as the flashy, talented kid from New Orleans is more or less completely gone. "I Am Not a Human Being" was far from the song that first signaled the shift, but it might be the moment when the shift truly took hold, when Wayne's self-regard as something entirely different became established enough to set the course for his transformation. This is the alien coming out party. I can't say I'd recommend drinking the punch.

Follow Kyle Kramer on Twitter.