It’s hard to imagine that news that the third single to be released off Lil Wayne’s upcoming Tha Carter IV would be an acoustic ballad would be met with anything but nervous skepticism, especially consider how most of Weezy’s rock-related ventures have gone so far in his career. But while the detail-produced “How to Love” might not be a home run of a track, and while it probably won’t go on to be a “Lollipop” or “Got Money”-level success, it’s far from the disaster that you’d probably expect. Rather, it’s a compelling, smooth, bordering-on-soulful slow jam, a subtle success that should make a welcome Carter IV addition regardless of its crossover potential.
The song is a minimal production, just an auto-tuned Weezy crooning over some lightly strummed acoustic and a gentle, Stargate-like click-beat. The sound is actually fairly similar to one of fellow southern rapper David Banner’s rap ballads, like the underrated “Cadillac on 22′s,” understated and contemplative for such an oversized hip-hop personality. The lyrics feature Wayne expressing sympathy for an unnamed female subject that never learned the titular skill, who “can’t have a man look at [her] for five seconds / without feeling insecure.” Perhaps it’s meant as a Pink/Christina-like “you are beautiful, no matter what they say” message of empowerment, but Weezy never gets that far, only ever detailing how despairing the poor girl’s emotional position is.
The song’s secret weapon? That echo-y, eerie, incredibly minor-sounding synth sound that enters around the time of the chorus. It gives “How to Love” an unsettling, almost fearful edge, like something out of an OK Computer-era Radiohead song, which for some reason we imagine Weezy would consider to be a very high compliment. We mean it as one, anyway.