There’s a note of sad irony to this review considering this Lil Wayne album is part of the DJ Drama “Gangsta Grillz” mixtape series. Most readers are by now aware that Drama was arrested on January 16th in Atlanta on charges of selling bootleg pirated music. It’s hard to imagine how the music industry can find albums like Wayne’s “Dedication 2 – Gangsta Grillz” to be bootleg pirated CD’s when you can find the album for sale at any retail outlet, online or offline. Wayne himself is clearly not feeling cheated out of any hard-earned money, or he wouldn’t be appearing on the album cover or dropping 25 tracks worth of material. The retailers are getting paid, the artists are getting paid, so who’s breaking the law here?
Well the record industry undoubtedly has a few answers for that ass, but only time will tell when Drama and Don Cannon get the chance to defend themselves in court. One can always speculate though, and the first item on the agenda would probably be that in typical mixtape fashion, Wayne is rapping over a lot of instrumentals that other rappers made famous. The title track of “Dedication 2” opens with Young Buck’s “Bang Bang,” even though they do eventually change it up a bit. “Poppin Them Bottles” is not trying to change up shit though, it’s clearly Three 6 Mafia’s “Poppin’ My Collar,” nor is there any doubt that “What U Kno” is T.I.’s “What You Know” flipped up Wayne style
“I’m a New Orleans gangtsa, after the storm
Boy it took ’bout 3 million to rebuild my home
But, I’m back on defense back in my zone
I eat rappers and go in my yard and bury they bones
My pockets on Raven Symone
That’s fat! Wutchu know bout that, ha?!
So I’m a keep it goin, keep it movin, we can do it, I ain’t trippin
So far ahead of them niggaz we got a time difference
Dont confuse me wit them, I am different
Tryin to holla at Tip for a movie audition
I push that Maserati to the limit
Zig-zaggin through that traffic like Emmitt”
Now let’s be real, I can’t say that DJ Drama didn’t pay for each and every one of the beats he and Wayne used for this tape, or that everything wasn’t cleared by the respective artists they are jacked from. After all having somebody freestyle on your shit is in some ways free publicity for you too, or at the very least acknowledgement it was worth rapping over in the first place. It’s hard to imagine you could hit legit retail with any album these days without having all your shit straight. So what other argument does the recording industry have against albums like “Dedication 2 – Gangsta Grillz?” Maybe it’s that the artist do NOT appear “courtesy of” their respective record labels, they just do it because they want to. There’s certainly no shortage of guests on Wayne’s mixtape. Juelz Santana’s on “Welcome to the Concrete Jungle,” Currency and Remy Ma are on “Where the Cash At,” Pharrell’s on “Gettin Some Head” and Jamie Foxx is on “Georgia… Bush.” Actually that’s not true, Jamie Foxx isn’t credited on the back on this disc, but that is the Vudu beat he was on for the Field Mob and Ludacris duet “Georgia.” Previously I noted on “Tha Carter II” that Wayne was improving as a lyricist but could make even more of an impact by offering some social commentary along with his gangsterism, and he sure as hell does here:
“This song is dedicated to the one wit the suit
Thick white skin and his eyes bright blue
So called beef wit you know who
Fuck it he just let him kill all of our troops
Look at the bullshit we been through
Had the niggaz sittin on top they roofs
Hurricane Katrina, we shoulda called it Hurricane (Geeoorrggiaa) Bush
Then they tellin y’all lies on the news
The white people smilin like everything cool
But I know people that died in that pool
I know people that died in them schools
Now what is the survivor to do?
Got to no trailer, you gotta move
Now it’s on to Texas and to (Geeoorrggiiaa)
They tell you what they want, show you what they want you to see
But they don’t let you know what’s really goin on
Make it look like a lotta stealin goin on
Boy them cops is killers in my home
Nigga shot dead in the middle of the street
I ain’t no thief, I’m just tryin to eat
Man fuck the police and president (Geeoorrrggiiaa) Bush”
Maybe it’s not the recording industry itself that’s mad at DJ Drama. Maybe it was the beloved (*cough*) President Bush who put the hit out on Drama and Cannon and ordered they be slapped with a federal RICO charge, because he resents being called on the carpet for the failures of his government during the Katrina crisis. As a matter of fact the crisis in New Orleans is still ongoing long after the flood waters have receded; perhaps he ought to call home some of those troops from Iraq and put them to work rebuilding people’s lives in the United States.
Crackpot conspiracy theories aside, it seems the biggest beef the recording industry has with DJ Drama is the most simple and base it could possibly be. They’re not concerned with uncleared samples, or unauthorized guest appearances, or who violated what laws, THEY JUST WANT THEIR CUT. That’s right – the mixtape phenomenon went from a hip-hop cultural underground to mainstream retail outlets, and they’ve suddenly realized that they got taken out of the loop and aren’t making a killing on millions of discs and tapes. After all these are people known for taking 95 cents out of every dollar’s profit on an album, giving a rapper the other 5, and then charging him or her the cost of marketing the album out of that 5 instead of THEIR 95. These people squeeze turnips until blood comes out, and the real irony here is that they are cutting off their own lifeblood in the process. Who gives DJ’s beats for mixtapes? THE PROMOTIONS DEPARTMENTS AT THE RECORD LABELS. They understand that mixtapes promote and market their own artists for them, but at the higher up levels they are completely disconnected from the ground level of music and only see that if it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense. As long as albums like “Dedication 2 – Gangsta Grillz” are available at retailers like Amazon and Best Buy, this shit definitely doesn’t make any sense, and it makes even less sense to throw DJ Drama in jail over it.