Day 320: "Mo Fire" – Tha Carter II, 2005
It's never been any secret that Lil Wayne loves New York rap, nor has it ever been a secret that he is fascinated by the swing of dub rhythms and the cadence of Jamaican patois. Tha Carter II is, to me, one of the definitive Southern rap albums, a key part of the transition that occurred with Wayne, Jeezy, and T.I. and shifted the genre's center of gravity down a few degrees of latitude. And I think it's notable that on such an album, one of the best songs has what could pass for a Cam'ron beat, that Lil Wayne is essentially throwing a gauntlet down for anyone who thinks that his sound tied to a specific set of influences or geography.
One of the longstanding critical views of Tha Carter II is that Wayne had to shed Mannie Fresh as a producer to evolve his sound, which, Mannie Fresh's genius notwithstanding, I think is probably accurate. Produced by a then-nameless producer, Yonny, whom Wayne met because Yonny was a driver at the airport (Yonny would go on to write and produce Trey Songz's "Say Ahh"), "Mo Fire" is about as distant from the Mannie Fresh sound as possible. And it accomplishes its job of expanding the ways in which Wayne seems cool. This song is cool as hell. It sounds totally fresh, and it gives Wayne a new kind of swagger: "I diddy bop . my fitty cocked / my city hot / I'm dodging the city cop," he begins. "I'll put you in my pocket / right next to the condoms, homie / you ain't nothing but a profit," he closes. And in between there's this, which is definitely as cool as Lil Wayne has ever sounded:
I'm coming through
In something new
The color is smurf blue
I'm puffin' that purple
If I talk it, I walk it, like Hershel
I get it like it is on the commercial
This is verse two
It is worse, too
I'll murk you
Like I birthed you
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