Day 334: "You Ain't Got Nuthin'" feat. Fabolous and Juelz Santana – Tha Carter III, 2008
Obviously Lil Wayne is one of the best rappers ever because not only is he someone who uses the word "asinine" in a punchline but he is someone who makes a point of his mispronunciation of "asinine," drawing attention to the fact that he just used the word "asinine."
But the reason I love "You Ain't Got Nuthin'" is actually for the guest verses, which are rare in that, theme of the song aside, they flip the formula of Wayne showing up on other people's songs and demolishing them. Here, alongside the best rapper alive, two of New York's finest put on for the birthplace of hip-hop in an epic way, outrapping Wayne himself. And Wayne's verse isn't even bad! It's awesome! And he also uses the song as a fuck you to all the hip-hop heads who would argue that Auto-Tune and incredible rapping are mutually exclusive, which is a great move. The song is a tribute to New York, an olive branch to remind people that even if New Yorkers don't want to fuck with the South, Wayne fucks with them. And so we get a hard as rocks Alchemist beat, Fabolous going absolutely bonkers rattling off the ways he's going to turn you into pasta, and Juelz Santana getting money out the ass—"that's some expensive shit."
Juelz gets off a few of my favorite punchlines of all time on this song. I'm talking about the kind of punchline where you'll see something that reminds you of what he's talking about, and, even if you haven't listened to the song in years, you think of that line. Every time I walk into a bodega and see a case full of Poland Spring bottled water, which is basically every day, I think of Juelz's line, "My dough's a bit longer, my flow is just slaughter / my wrist look like frozen Poland Spring water." Growing up in North Carolina, Poland Spring was not really a brand of bottled water we had, but that just made the line seem even more evocative of New York. That image is seared in my brain.
The other one I always think of any time I'm at a fancy event is "I stick toothpicks in y'all hors d'oeuvres." I love that it doesn't really mean anything, but, because it follows the line "Y'all all herbs," it's a devastating own. He just keeps going, too, getting more and more savage: "I'm a shark, y'all just koi fish (what else?) octopus (what else?) oysters"; "[your wifey] told me you's a nag, you's a bug / she told me I'm a blast, I'm a stud... I gave her knee pads for the rug"; "You surfboard dudes get wiped out, totally." I love this verse.
And it might not even be the best verse on the song. Fab manages to turn the Wayans brothers' names into punchlines about his aforementioned plans to turn you into pasta; he brags that you'll only "see [him] pushing if the driver's tired"; he gets in a 101 Dalmatians reference. Best of all is this part:
Kermit, you better think before you ribbit
Don't get murdered over your song before you ad lib it
I pop up like Xzibit, but given I'm at your crib it's
Not to put no fucking fish tanks in your Civic
Fuck getting your ride pimped, you'll get hog-tied, wimp
Have you in the trunk curled up like fried shrimp
It's been a good year, maybe I should ride blimp
Honestly, that's just punchline nirvana right there. It doesn't get any better than that. I can imagine Wayne hearing that verse and just getting giddy over all those jokes. And what rap nerd wouldn't feel the same?
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