Lil Wayne’s long-delayed rock album Rebirth hits shelves covered in thick coats of flop sweat, bad buzz, and schadenfreude. It’s a disc that pop-culture rubberneckers have been dreading and anticipating in equal measures, a bold sonic experiment from a pop icon for whom quality control is as foreign a concept as sobriety and self-restraint. Fans are right to fear the worst: Rebirth suggests Cash Money’s answer to Garth Brooks’ equally misbegotten Chris Gaines side project. Like Brooks’ much-derided attempt to crack the rock market, Rebirth sounds like an alternate-universe greatest-hits album from an act that never deserved to have any hits in the first place, a genre-hopping exploration of bad ideas, hokey song concepts, and cringe-inducing lyrics.
Rebirth sounds like a strange dispatch from a lost ’80s in which Wayne trafficked in cheesy power chords, cornball hard-rock atmospherics, lame guitar solos for beginners, rock clichés, and Reagan-era synthesizers: The result plays like an over-the-top parody of a rock album. From Wayne’s trademark giggle of self-satisfaction to a song (“One Way Trip”) that finds the would-be guitar hero screaming at length about how Blink-182’s Travis Barker is his motherfucking drummer, Rebirth represents a nightmare fusion of overly processed hip-hop/R&B and dumbed-down rock. Oh well, even Michael Jordan threw up a brick every now and then.