When New Orleans' Hot Boys formed in 1997, few foresaw teenager Lil Wayne — the youngest of the four — as the group's eventual superstar. In a field of overbuilt masculinity, Wayne's punishingly scrawny frame projects a bizarre range of excitable flows, featuring slurred runs, overenunciated croaks and off-and-on faux-Jamaican patois. In body and voice, Wayne suggests a hip-hop Muppet. Yet in spite of (or because of) that, few contemporary rappers are more fun to listen to. Giddy fun. Giggling, "OMG, did he just say that?" fun. Wayne has a penchant for outrageous similes, several of which can be found on his new disc, Tha Carter III. On "Dr. Carter," for instance, he boasts, "Swagger tighter than a yeast infection/Fly/Go hard like geese erection." Even when not deliberately humorous, Wayne's myriad verbal "looks" and his joy of hyperbole convey a sense of play that's scarce among self-serious, scowling peers. As Wayne posits on "Phone Home" (strangest rap invocation of E.T. ever): "We are not the same, I am a Martian." Who would argue?
Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.