2021 has been, for lack of a better term, Lil’ Wayne’s year. Though it isn’t surprising for a legendary and consistent rapper to deliver quality material, it is when — after years of slight mediocrity — that an artist of Lil’ Wayne’s status becomes someone you can’t wait to hear. From his verse on Tyler, the Creator’s last album to last month’s Doe or Die II by AZ, Lil’ Wayne has shown to be a dominating force on his guest appearances. So when I heard about the collaboration project between Rich the Kid and Lil’ Wayne, I was a little wary about the quality — partially due to preconceived thoughts on Rich the Kid. Fortunately, their collaboration album Trust Fund Babies gives you what you expect from both artists — unfortunately, Lil Wayne can’t save the album from mediocrity, as he brings minor low points.
Lil’ Wayne tries to give it his all and sometimes falling short. He brings an energy that Rich the Kid matches, but together, they can’t seem to find an equilibrium to keep me fully invested throughout. They trade verses, which you can tell differentiate in quality, but you’re left either wanting more or enjoying what you receive based on your fandom.
Trust Fund Babies barely takes a different direction from anything to do with inflating their worth in the now and ego. At times, Lil’ Wayne reflects on his past to bridge connectivity with Rich the Kid, but as it begins to get deep, it teeters on shallowness. The instance of this, fortunately, starts and ends on “Admit it.” The song comes midway through the album, creating a stoppage gap of nonsensical verses that seem to want to say something but reverts to the nothingness of the main subjects of the songs. It tries to break down barriers, only to fall on its ass short of accomplishing anything. It’s only after a short five seconds before you head to the skip button. For fans, fortunately, what is delivered before and after is enough to keep you slightly entertained.
The thing is, Trust Fund Babies is an album that perpetuates a life similar to Clarence “Papa Doc” in 8 Mile — they can rap, but trust fund babies don’t have equivocal street cred as others who aren’t. But the subversion of the notion toward the next generation. There are few times they reference the youth, as they will become trust fund babies without the weakness that grows from hiding behind money. Unfortunately, this is not delivered well on very few occasions like on “Trust Fund.” The album doesn’t have complex themes to build from, and in turn, dulls its repeat value. It doesn’t mean the songs are bad. And there are some worth returning to, like “Feelin’ Like Tunechi” and “Buzzin’.”
“Feelin’ Like Tunechi” and “Buzzin’” see both artists at their best. Lil’ Wayne’s energy is transferred into Rich the Kid, giving him reason to idolize his favorite artist and match wits with him behind the microphone. Lil’ Wayne consistently outshines Rich, though that comes to little surprise — Trust Fund Babies is a parallel to 2006’s Like Father Like Son, and Lil’ Wayne takes over as Birdman in this situation. Ironically, as a rapper, Birdman was the son of that album. Trust Fund Babies is as potent as that album — not much. Though it sticks the landing behind both artists
Opening with “Feelin’ Like Tunechi,” it begins to create that parallel, though the album eventually becomes jaded as it mirrors the quality of the album cover. “Feelin’ Like Tunechi” has solid production, and both artists deliver dope flows — lasting with momentum on some of the following songs. “Headlock” continues with that energy, where you almost forget about the decent production value — the percussion and piano keys overpower any small intricacies that they add underneath the base, and this is speaking for the whole.
“Buzzin,” on the other hand, brings a different cadence to their, sometimes, intensely fun energy, with Lil’ Wayne delivering the set before the beat drops and Rich the Kid and YG come and turn the notches up a few. It cuts off a bit short, as the rappers deliver quick verses that I wish lasted longer — pickers can’t be choosers, though. It is the same for a few songs, like “Big Boss” and “Bleedin’.” I’m left perplexed because there was a lot I enjoyed begrudgingly. Wayne keeps me hype, and Rich mirrors it within these two songs. It also stems from my slight distaste of Rich’s music, and sometimes he proves me wrong otherwise. On Trust Fund Babies, Rich does a little more of the latter than the former.
Trust Fund Babies stays tried and true until you realize some of it is pure redundancy. But I can’t dissuade you. These songs have aspects that are great, like hypnotic choruses mirroring the audacious energy of the production. What you hear in the first half mirrors in the second, and the album has a standard it holds itself to (even if it’s low), despite lingering problems mentioned prior. Rich the Kid isn’t always up to par with Lil’ Wayne (for the most part), and the production isn’t always a highlight, but they blind you with enough energy to keep you returning.