Why Lil Wayne and Swizz Beatz's "Uproar" is a meaningful single for the culture

Da’Shan Smith

 // Oct 5, 2018

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.

Cue up the Diddy voice 'cause, “let’s go!!!” That’s just how fire Lil Wayne’s “Uproar” is. Coming in at the fourth track of his Tha Carter V, “Uproar” stands ready to rumble. It’s a warning and (simultaneous) call-to-arms to the haters of Weezy—or his doubters, if you will—as he continuously asks throughout the track “What the fuck though? Where the love go?”

On “Uproar,” the stakes of the song make it seem as if Weezy’s a reigning champ, one who has long paid his dues for his career, as the bouts he faces become rarer but more signifcant for legacy's sake. This is the case on Tha Carter V where critics and fans alike waded in waters of anticipation (and skepticism) since he announced in 2012 that this would be his final album. Of course in those six years, that didn’t turn out to be the case. And after hearing Wayne set most tracks ablaze with opulent and divergent flows on the fifth installment of one of music’s most important album series, it doesn’t look as though Tha Carter V will be the last from the Hot Boy.

After the album intros with a candid monologue from Wayne’s mother, Jacida, followed by his crooning alongside a fallen XXXtentacion, a feeling of melancholy overcasts the album. He’s instructing himself “don’t cry,” before proceeding to embrace the darker components of his career. Tha Carter V works as Wayne’s eulogy to the notion that he’s never crafted a distinct sound for hip-hop. Through its emo-rap, matching the likes of today’s Gen Z SoundCloud and 90s-baby-Millennial generations, Weezy reminds audiences that he’s the originator of the sound. Not XXX, Lil Uzi Vert, or better yet, Young Thug. Weezy’s on a mission to father the game he established in his eccletic, hustla-Mafioso spirit which drove Tha Carter series in the first place.

The Goliath nature of “Uproar” shines through a prominent sample of G. Dep’s “Special Delivery.” The Harlem anthem from 2001 is a staple in hip-hop history, coming at a time when many doubted the reign of Bad Boy could continue post-The Notorious B.I.G. As the mogul hyping the track, Puffy not only promises a song that will offer the game something new (quenching the thirst of a woman asking “can I have that?,” before demanding “I want that” and “give it to me”), he’s also alluding to his own particular brand of go-get-it. There’s a ringing ding in the background that knocks through the bassline, fueled by the tinkering bell of a bicycle—most likely reminiscent of Diddy’s beginning days as a paper boy at age 12.

With a sample as strong as “Special Delivery,” it’s a nice added touch that the producer flipping the beat is none other than Swizz Beatz. The legend himself is responsible for reinvigorating the party rousing anthems that soundtracked the late 90s into the aughts. His work on “Uproar” is reminiscent of the hyper-“it’s showtime” angst that drove “Ruff Ryders Anthem” from DMX, which eventually rounded out on “Get It On The Floor.”

“Uproar” is not only the comeback statement for Lil Wayne, but also for Swizz, as he prepares to release his POISON album in November. Previously both men linked up on “Pistol On My Side (P.O.M.S.),” which most assumed to be the promotional single for Tha Carter V. Although the track doesn’t appear on that album’s playlist, it’s slated to on POISON. Still, the song served as a precursor to “Uproar,” falling in the same realm of gun-toting lyricism and hard-knocking production.

Simply put, “Uproar” has the potential to be an anthem tailored for the streets. It’s at “Uproar” where he’s most triumphant, an energy infectious enough to not only resonate in his native Weezyana or the Harlem Shaking capital of NYC, but from coast to coast, and nation to nation. And judging from personal experience, I’m currently seeing this as the case. While vacationing during Tha Carter V’s first week out, I’ve already heard three separate cars (with their windows rolled down) blasting “Uproar”: In the Greenwich Village of NYC, by CenturyLink Field in Seattle, and most recently in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. If there’s any indicator of how potent “Uproar” is going to be as a single, hearing the neighbors up north already co-sign the track just a week into Wayne’s release is a telling measure of its potential success.

But in a larger historical context, Lil Wayne and Swizz Beatz are reclaiming the Harlem Shake dance in today’s pop culture conscience. It’s actually symbolic considering all Weezy’s had to fight for to get this music out on his own terms. That story resonates well with the experience of being a black creative in general, and in witnessing others capitalize off that work without paying any proper homage. Remember that song back in 2013, the EDM one that instructed “do the Harlem Shake"!? The one that didn’t represent the actual dance at all, but inspired mass dance challenge videos, and reigned supreme on streaming platforms and No. 1 on the Hot 100 for five agonizing weeks? That was Baauer’s “Harlem Shake,” and when it came out, it robbed the pop culture moment that was the “Special Delivery” Harlem Shake.

(In fact, I shouldn’t have to clarify “Special Delivery,” because it’s the original Harlem Shake. And I’m not the only one who felt my nostalgia being swept away by an incorrectly named dance craze.) “Harlem Shake” (the song) was the case of mislabeling and a slight pilferage of our culture—they weren’t even doing the G. Dep move, but in fact the “Bernie dance,” as their postures weren’t standing tall while swinging their shoulders, but instead leaning backwards and flailing their shoulders.

Now with its own proper dance challenge, “Uproar” will show the mistaken general public who don’t know, what’s truly up! Just with Drake’s “In My Feelings,” the “Uproar” dance challenge will have a video featuring Shiggy hitting the dance, and it’s bound to make numbers. With an added push on radio, and it already peaking at No. 3 on the Spotify US charts, a proper single push will guarantee more history for Lil Wayne and Swizz Beatz. Furthermore, the culture now has the power to musically take back which was once ours, so let’s go!

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