Dedication 2 dropped — 14 years ago. (Release date: May 22, 2006)
On this day, May, 22, in hip-hop history...
Fourteen years ago this week, Lil Wayne released Dedication 2. It would turn out to be not only a special moment in the history of the mixtape format itself, but an untouchable moment in Wayne’s long, powerful, and checkered career. For some of us, Dedication 2 — with all its stops and starts, its left-field asides, its general free-jazz aesthetic — is the truest representation Weezy F. Baby, the Best Rapper Alive.
Dedication 2 is the moment Lil’ Wayne was beginning to be considered the “Best Rapper Alive”, and the mixtape’s opener — Get Em — sets the stage accordingly. Following a fitting voice-over (“You are watching a master at work”), Wayne delivers on his promise. It was the most precise and motivated he had ever sounded, spending three-straight minutes going after every doubter — make believe or otherwise — that was still arguing Wayne’s status.
Making a hit song is a combination of talent, marketability, and luck. Making a banger over someone else’s hit song is a mix of ingenuity and charisma. For the latter, a rapper seeks to transform a familiar jam to reflect his own image, using just his words and his flow. Ideally, the limited resources breed creativity — think about how resourceful someone has to be to claim De-Facto Ownership over an instrumental that’s already in the public’s consciousness.