Music by VICE

A Year of Lil Wayne: Rick Ross's "Luxury Tax"

What makes a rapper the dominant cultural figure?

by Kyle Kramer
Mar 25 2017, 5:37pm

Day 186: "Luxury Tax" feat. Lil Wayne, Young Jeezy, and Trick Daddy – Rick Ross, Trilla , 2008

One partial explanation for Rick Ross's decline in fortunes over the past couple years is that fans' appetites for music that doesn't have some sort of celebrity tie-in or other social media-friendly news angle has  also declined. And so something that is objectively great, such as Lil Wayne, Young Jeezy, Trick Daddy, and Rick Ross on the same track, doesn't grab anyone's attention. But this collaboration is just the type of all-star combination that actually makes for good listening rather than good tweets. I mean, Wayne drops the beautifully composed line "Never slipping even on the side of a swimming pool / we don't get ridiculed, we get rid of fools" within 30 seconds of the track starting! Meanwhile Jeezy gets off this phenomenal set of rhymes about having a cop snoop around his car: "Can you tell me my your dog keep sniffin' my car? / got the audacity to call me a liar / 'so what you got in your trunk? / 'oh, just a spare tire.'"

I've been thinking a lot, in the wake of Drake's More Life, about what makes a rapper a dominant cultural force, such as Lil Wayne was circa 2008, and I think a lot of it is tied up in workmanlike could-be hits like this. Sure, this is an all-star lineup, but I think it rises to the level of all-star lineup because Lil Wayne is involved. It's an event when Drake or Kanye or Kendrick hops on a track these days: That's the track people skip to or immediately start arguing about. Artists know that if they get a Drake feature that's the one people will care about. A Lil Wayne feature used to serve that same purpose (it still does, but the effect is slightly less pronounced). Putting Wayne on a track was an indication that it mattered, and the saturation of tracks like that is part of what cemented Wayne's status as the guy. He always came through with a great hook! He always had an awesome verse! Here, he doesn't disappoint: "Big business, minus the business suit / even I look in the mirror like 'is it you?'" he raps as an opening. And then there's this one for the sports enthusiasts out there: "They said I couldn't play football I was too small / they said I couldn't play basketball I wasn't tall / they said I couldn't play baseball at all / and now every day of my life I ball."

This song may not be something you can blog about in today's America and grab headlines, if it ever was, but, as the feature list suggests, it's an event, and it's a good as hell song to listen to on a Saturday afternoon.

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