Rich the Kid is always in the right place at the right time. In 2012, he met Migos at a club, and we hit it off. By the following year, the Atlanta trio would be the first signers of Quality Control, have a hit single (“Versace”) — which got so big that Drake jumped on the remix — and they’d drop one of the most definitive Southern rap mixtapes from the 2010s (YRN). Through it all, Rich went along and became their unofficial fourth member through two joint mixtapes, which weren’t that great, but the timing was perfect. Time and again Rich would be around rappers who were far more interesting than he was at the ideal time: Kodak Black and Playboi Carti right before they became household names; Famous Dex And Jay Critch Around The Time Of The Overlooked Group Mixtape Rich Forever 3; YoungBoy never broke down again when Rich somehow convinced YB to make a joint mixtape. I think Rich deserves credit for his ability to spot talent, but he managed to survive in rap through sheer perseverance and networking.
His latest venture is Trust Fund Babies, a collaborative mixtape with Lil Wayne; and of course, given Rich’s combination of dumb luck and business acumen, it arrives in the midst of a so-called Wayne renaissance. Oh, you didn’t hear? Lil Wayne is apparently back and rejuvenated. Evidence for this is a series of traits from the past year or so, though despite brilliant streaks – his nerding for The Firm on AZ’s Do or die II, or the hunger in his rapping on Tyler the Creator’s “Hot Wind Blows” – it’s too inconsistent for me to call it a revival.
That’s about right Trust Fund Babies, which seems to exist for the sole reason that Rich grew up on Wayne, and Wayne thought Rich had good vibes. (A more cynical guess would be that Rich rang Wayne’s doorbell and gave him a hefty duffel bag.) But whatever the motives behind the tape, it’s bizarre that it’s not that much fun, considering such low stakes. Take the unbearably dry “Yeah Yeah.” It’s cool that Wayne is horny, but when he gets horny it should be more descriptive than “She just wanna give me some sloppy, yeah / She just wanna lick my lollipop, yeah.” (Excuse me!) On “Shh,” he clocks in a verse that’s so boring, you can’t even make out a line so bad it’s good. He shows signs of life on “Headlock,” but his puns aren’t smart enough to justify the a cappella intro.
So much of the space here is filled with rich hooks and verses that can be easily recycled and no one would know. He still doesn’t have an identity of his own, switching between that tired triplet flow and a lazy Young Thug impersonation (most blatantly on the chorus of “Feelin’ Like Tunechi”). If Thug sued me for associating him with this mess, I would understand!
The only reason to care about this mixtape is Wayne, even if it often sounds like Rich is being held captive in a studio and having to rap his way out. “Buzzin'” is a standout, with a dizzying classic Wayne pun and a graphic sex punchline that gets funnier the more you think about it: “She give me brain, that’s skully/She drank a Wayne McFlurry.” And “Big Boss” has one of the mixtape’s few acceptable Rich the Kid verses. Wayne shines on the spatial production with familiar but witty punchlines. But the truth is, the bar is set low. After years of health problems, label problems and the depressingly awful raps between I am not human II and Free Weezy Album, it’s just nice to hear Wayne rapping adequately again. It may not be a comeback, or a return to its glory days, or whatever other exaggeration you may encounter, but it’s good enough that this half-hearted business deal with Rich the Kid isn’t a complete disaster.
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