Day 4: "Renegades" feat. Kidd Kidd – SQ4, 2002
Kyle: One of the great things about deciding to blog about Lil Wayne for a year is that, if you are a person with cool friends such as myself (I definitely have friends, and many of them, I promise), other people think the idea sounds fun and want to join in, potentially relieving you of the burden of actually having good insights every day. Not that I wouldn't. But I'm taking no chances. Plus, having guests keeps the format fresh!
My first guest is my new colleague Lawrence, who just started working at Noisey this week. Welcome Lawrence! He knows a lot about Lil Wayne and has good opinions. We're going to try something out: On Fridays, Lawrence will join in and we'll have a chat about a Lil Wayne song. This week, Lawrence sent me a bunch of Wayne songs, including this one from the famous Sqad Up mixtape run, a period of Wayne with which I have to admit I am not very familiar. It is Jay Z and Eminem's "Renegade" beat, and it features 2015 XXL Freshman Kidd Kidd! It was released in 2002. You do the math on that one.
Anyway, Lawrence, this is the first song you wanted us to discuss, so tell me a bit about what it is and why you like it.
Lawrence: The era of Sqad Up Wayne is kind of my coming-of-age period in my Weezy fandom. My first interactions with Wayne came really early—I was probably in third or fourth grade. The game had to be passed down to me. My older sister had every desirable album stacked up in her room: Hot Boyz, Three 6 Mafia, Jay-Z, Lil Kim, etc. When she was out, I would slip in there and steal her albums to listen. I listened to Tha Block Is Hot probably every day. I wanted to be a Hot Boy. My cousin and I specifically asked our parents for Reebok Classics and we would walk to school swagged out in a nightgown-length white tee, jeans, and our Freaky Ree's. My stepbrothers showed me Baller Blockin' when I was about ten—way too young to be watching it.
By the time Hot Boys were done, and Wayne started to develop an identity as a solo act, I was fresh into middle school and feeling myself. I was at an age where I didn't need the game given to me. All the older dudes on my block were raving over how much better Wayne had gotten and they started playing Sqad Up tapes on our porches. I got absorbed by it and started playing those tracks all day long. It was the first time I felt like I was choosing the music I was taking in. It made me feel grown. I didn't need to scavenge my sister's collection or wait for my stepbrothers to come through with the bootleg DVD. I started trading mixtapes with my friends around the way and I'd go home, upload them to Windows Media Player and burn them for myself. The tape I played and burned the most out of that Wayne era was SQ4, by far. I had no idea Lil Wayne could rap like that. Nobody did. It was the start of his true rise to being respected as a proper MC.
Looking back, "Renegades" always sticks out the most to me, and I revisit it all the time. I makes me miss the fun in rappers regularly jacking for beats. The whole SQ series is nothing more than a seven-part flex on the industry, and Wayne took on a song here that, at that time, probably felt untouchable for most. This is one of the few instances (possibly only) where the public decided that Jay was lyrically upstaged on a track of his own, so for a 19-year-old to grab hold of this and spit shit like, "I'm younger than Kobe, vet like Rob Horry / I made it hot, bubbly, your buddy is getting chubbier than N.O.R.E." and "If this was the block, I'd be moving a eighth or more / But I soar through the block in that grape Azzure / I see hate galore but I straight ignore because my cake is more / Peep how your date adore" I'm smiling to myself as I'm listening and typing right now because this is gassing me. I have to acknowledge the horrid "rape your whore" line in there and be thankful that most of us—both rappers and fans—are better educated on such irresponsible takes. Overall, this is one of the most relentless displays of Wayne's early career, and it should be acknowledged when recognizing his greatness.
Kyle: "Wayne came to paint your kitchen," and, truly, he did. If we're talking greatness, let's talk about how he raps a single verse for three minutes straight. Or how he just becomes the song here, using his voice percussively as he bounces through the various twists and turns of his verse, until the beat kind of just fades away as background noise. A great Wayne tactic is how he just continually hammers rhymes home for far longer than is possibly logical, like he does here with the "oy" sound at the beginning of the verse (including twisting the word "boy" about four directions). Another is the way he'll just chew on words and roll them around in his mouth, like he does with the word "road" here. Wayne doesn't just rap words, he creates new forms of expression. I'm probably going to say that again at some point, but it doesn't make it any less true. This song? It's good.
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