Here’s the Village Voice’s Tom Breihan on “Birthday Girl” vs. “Lollipop,” in a post the other day about the new Roots album, Rising Down, which I guess the Roots have been strategically sending out to writers who wouldn’t know from good music.
When I wrote about Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop” a couple of days ago, a few people in the comments section compared the track unfavorably to “Birthday Girl.” I don’t see it. They’re both crossover attempts, but “Lollipop” is Wayne’s shot at engaging the changing pop climate on his own terms, while “Birthday Girl” is aimed at some imagined audience that probably doesn’t exist; not even the Gym Class Heroes could get away with this bullshit.
As usual, I’m not sure if I agree with Tom Breihan.
I should preface this post by noting that there probably isn’t a single solitary Lil’ Wayne song that I like more than even the worst Roots song (which might not even be “Birthday Girl,” though I’m not sure what else it would be). So you could say I’m a little bit biased in that regard. I’m the kind of elitist bastard who finds boring quote-unquote real hip-hop way better than exciting LCD rap.
That being said, I feel pretty confident in saying that “Birthday Girl” > “Lollipop.” In fact, I’ll go you one further: All sorts of bad things > “Lollipop.”
To me, “Birthday Girl” isn’t as god-awful as it is kinda lame. I think most people’s objection to it had more so to do with principle than anything else. They didn’t like the fact that it’s such a blatant crossover attempt. Personally, I could give a rat’s ass about principle. It could have just as easily been Cody ChestNUTS on the hook rather than the kid from Fall Out Boy, a la “The Seed 2.0,” and it still would have been kinda gay. It’s just plain not as good a song as “The Seed 2.0.” If it was, it wouldn’t bother me that it was their big Gym Class Heroes move in the least bit. I’m open-minded like that.
“Lollipop,” on the other hand, is just fucking awful. It’s like, if somebody managed to distill everything that’s awful about Lil’ Wayne (i.e. pretty much everything) and everything that’s awful about T-Pain (i.e., again, pretty much everything) and combine the two into one big shit sandwich that somehow manages to be even worse than probably anything either of those two has done to date. It fails both as a rap song and as an R&B song – with the latter being especially devastating, in that the guy’s singing into a motherfucking computer. I though AutoTune was supposed to be able to make anyone sound good.
As far as the argument that the Lil’ Wayne record is better than the Roots one, because at least Lil’ Wayne is trying cross over on his own terms, well, I’m not sure if I’m buying that either. Teh ghey though it may be, “Birthday Girl” is hardly the first thing the Roots have done that I find to be a little bit fruity. It might have seemed that way to some of the more hardcore Roots stans on the Internets, but I’m sure a lot of that can be attributed to the kind of Jena High School-style race issues you tend to find with the okayplayer set.
Meanwhile, I thought Lil’ Wayne was supposed to be uncompromising when it came to his ridonkulous logorrhea, and his commitment to drinking cough syrup and what have you. I thought that was one of the reasons why people who like to pretend that he’s a good rapper did so in the first place. Listening to “Lollipop,” it’s obvious to me that a) Lil’ Wayne is completely at a loss for coming up with a rap song that people could actually like, as evidenced by the Leak; and b) this is his sad, desperate attempt at ripping off T-Pain.
At least the Roots got the actual crack-ass cracka from Fall Out Boy.