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A Year of Lil Wayne: Ariana Grande's "Let Me Love You"

His public persona may not be keeping up, but Wayne is rapping with more care this year than he has in a long time.

Day 45: "Let Me Love You" – Ariana Grande feat. Lil Wayne, Dangerous Woman, 2016

So Lil Wayne apologized​ for his Black Lives Matter comments​ that set the internet on fire yesterday​, saying that he felt thrown off by the questions about his daughter. Of course, that's a whole other can of worms, since those questions were about his use of language toward women and could potentially be the jumping-off point for more discussion of Wayne being problematic. But let's let this current thing blow over before we get too far into that; after all, there's a lot to be said for Wayne's lyrical equanimity toward relationships, and it's really not so simple as the occasional drop of the b-word. So uh… anyway… did you guys know Lil Wayne made a song with Ariana Grande this year?

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Speaking of Wayne's takes on relationships, here's one. This is the kind of verse that Wayne fans generally ignore entirely but that perhaps best illustrates just how good Lil Wayne is at what he does and how much he's improved over the years. This sing-song Auto-Tune sound is de rigeur now, but few rappers sound this comfortable just totally leaning into a pop song and offering up a melody while maintaining the structure of a rap verse. For Wayne, it's second nature, and it's where he shows his veteran chops in terms of layering smart references and clever rhyme structures while keeping everything simple enough to be accessible. That's hard to do! Just listen to any young rapper either too eager to cram stuff into a verse or too focused on "vibes" to say anything interesting. Wayne, meanwhile, has this clever little run: "I'm laid up with my new thing / she lay her head on my new chain / then the mood change / then my name change / from Lil Wayne to 'ooh Wayne' / oh lord." He also has punchlines like "my ex trippin' it's no Biggie I Tupac shook her" or "she just looking for love she say she single and I'm her feature."

At one point he raps "Ariana my lil mama / goodbye to the good girl," which suggests he paid some attention to the overall thematic scope of the album, Dangerous Woman, and lends credence to my theory that Wayne is approaching rap with more care this year than he has in a long time (an image admittedly at odds with his, as yesterday proved, clueless public persona). This is the type of verse that made him so ubiquitous as a radio feature in the first place, elevating a somewhat boilerplate Ariana Grande song (sticky relatability of "I just broke up with my ex" notwithstanding) to a memorable moment. So that's something to celebrate as long we're looking for bright spots for Wayne right now! And here's something else: He begins the verse, "I say girl you need a Hot Boy / she say you need to stop fucking with them thots, boy," which introduces the possibility that some Ariana Grande fans are about to go find out who BG and Turk are. Wayne, as always, continues to be rap's best pop infiltrator.

Image: Screenshot of the "Let Me Love You" video via YouTube

Follow Kyle Kramer on Twitter​.