An appreciation of "Maybach Music 2," one of best songs ever.
Illustration by Michael Alcantara
Day 356: "Maybach Music 2" feat. Kanye West, T-Pain, and Lil Wayne – Rick Ross, Deeper Than Rap, 2009
One of my favorite Lil Wayne songs is "Maybach Music 2," which might also hold the distinction of being the greatest rap song of all time. That might also be hyperbole, but what is "Maybach Music 2" about if not hyperbole? "Maybach Music 2" is a song that I could put on, as a college student with no material income to speak of, and instantly feel like I was about to host a gala at a yacht club. I remember playing this on my college radio show when it came out and feeling like I was just a hop skip and a jump away from rolling up to fashion parties in a perfectly tailored suit, even though at the time the parties I was going to counted as fancy if they involved actual glassware instead of Solo cups. "Maybach Music 2" is a song that oozes success, the foundational text of the Rick Ross gospel. I fully believe that it was the turning point for his career, from rap radio bit player to actual Bawse. When I think of what Rick Ross represents, it sounds like the "Maybach Music" series, and the reason the "Maybach Music" series is a series of note is this song.
Kanye runs away with it, it must be said. This is one of Kanye's dopest verses, a moment that he just totally leans into. He weaves in a reference to Grey Poupon and turns it into a semi-inspirational poop joke. He dismisses people talking about his tight clothes with the beautiful kiss-off of, "I just remembered that my limelight extra bright." And then he lands upon one of his most inspired flows ever to close it all out:
So all the shit you talkin' dead, coffin
Light the weed, coughin', new crib, loft in
Where it's at? Austin. Where is that? Texas
What's in front? Benzes. What else? Lexus
Well who's Maybach is this? Mr. West's
Rick Ross also goes crazy. We have to give him his due for setting the tone, and it is, after all, his song. "I was barely gettin' pretty women / now I scoop Emmy winners like kitty litter" is a key line in the Rick Ross Extended Universe Bawse Guide, and the follow-up lines let him land the requisite quality boasts: "Any winter, Fendi denim like a slender nigga / lookin' in the mirror, I can see the real contender."
But it's Wayne who turns the whole song into an event, whose arrival, with a satisfied, track-surveying "well, all right," announces that "Maybach Music" songs are by definition legendary events. Lil Wayne's introduction is a beautiful moment. It's as though he's a star athlete stepping into a game, a world-renowned socialite about to walk through the doors of the most sumptuous and luxurious party on earth. He seems so calm and assured. And then, as promised, he manages to make the phrase "I'm sittin' in the asshole" sound like the coolest fucking thing you've ever heard of. He makes a great banana split punchline and drops the hilariously specific metaphor, "I'm on my feet like Tough Actin' Tinactin," a reference not just to the popular anti-fungal cream but more specifically to its ad campaign.
Is Lil Wayne good? Well, let him tell you. After all, "Maybach Music 2" has the clearest summary of Wayne's aspirations and place in the canon you'll find anywhere in his whole damn catalogue. You can turn to his lines at the end of his verse here and get the gist of maybe 40 percent of all of the Year of Lil Wayne posts. Hell, you can get it in one word. "Lil Wayne in one word," he floats, offering every critic in the world a platform to get in their descriptive quip before immediately rendering any other judgement irrelevant: "immaculate." How immaculate? What does that mean? Allow Lil Wayne to continue: "You see the Big, you see the Jay, the 2Pac in him / The Kurt Cobain, the Andre Three Stacks / and then I'm back…"
There you go. Lil Wayne set out the blueprint that every other rapper since has had to contend with. Those rappers are the benchmark. Kurt Cobain, the anti-star, is the rock star icon with the career to aspire toward. Three Stacks is the rapper to rap like. If you want to be great, which, once again, is what "Maybach Music 2" is about, then you just need to follow the cues given to you on this song. I mean, it has the two greatest artists of our generation, Kanye West and Lil Wayne, finally making a song together worthy of their respective talents. It has Rick Ross presiding and T-Pain, Kanye and Wayne's spirit guide, making it an occasion. Everything that was good about 2009 music came together in this song. "Maybach Music 2" isn't a pivotal song in Lil Wayne's catalog, per se. But it is inarguably the best. That's hyperbole again, of course. But, remember, hyperbole is the point.
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