“Lightskin Lil Wayne” should be blasphemous. 2019 Tyga is a streaming titan, an entertaining maker of booty jams and an adept deployer of an innocuous sample, but he’s no Weezy F. Baby. In terms of lyrical dexterity or formal innovation, Tyga has yet to match the artistic heights of his Young Money mentor — it also doesn’t feel like he’s all that interested in trying. Nevertheless, on the second song off Tyga’s new album, Legendary, he makes a case that he’s the successor to Lil Wayne. It’s a stretch, but the song, against all odds, works.
Brisk, confident and hypnotic, “Lightskin Lil Wayne” feels like a sonic culmination for Tyga. For two minutes and thirty seconds, he carries out a boast-filled barrage. He owns the Jay-Z of watches. Women call him Mack Maine, because of his “Mack game.” There are champagne showers for all. The bars are silly, obviously, but the end product is triumphant. For all the mythologizing of Wayne’s mixtape peak, at the end of the day he was an extremely horny man with a penchant for picking superb beats. In that way, and in that way only, Tyga can claim to be Weezy F. and the F is for fair-skinned.
Lil Wayne is almost a decade removed from his creative and commercial apex. Young Money, the house Weezy built, is a husk of its former self, a place where “Bedrock” echoes for eternity. In 2018, Nicki Minaj’s Queen struggled to find its place on the charts, while Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter V, after years of the record being stuck in label limbo, felt like a largely symbolic victory. Behind Drake, Tyga is arguably the most culturally relevant YMCMB artist. On “Lightskin Lil Wayne,” it’s Tyga’s talent for spotting and riding waves that sticks out, more than the meteoric talent he’s comparing himself to.