This year’s most unexpected guitar solo? Lil Wayne wields an Eddie Van Halen Frankenstein for a crossover collaboration you probably never expected to see

Lil Wayne playing an EVH Frankenstein
(Image credit: Jon Batiste/YouTube)

Just as you start to think you’ve seen everything there is to see in the guitar world, the universe launches us an almighty curveball. Case in point: Jon Batiste’s new single Uneasy, which features a pop-rock crossover so unexpected you’ll be rubbing your eyes in disbelief.

See, for Uneasy, Batiste has called upon rap superstar Lil Wayne, who briefly ditches the mic for a, erm, guest guitar solo.

Now, that alone would have us rather perplexed – Lil Wayne has previously showcased his six-string skills, but it’s fair to say it’s not considered one of his instrumental expertise – but the choice of axe here adds a further layer of intrigue.

For his solo, Lil Wayne wielded what looks to be an Eddie Van Halen, Frankie-inspired EVH Striped Series model.

At around the 4:00 mark in the music video, Weezy gets comfortable behind the EVH Frankie for eight bars for nonchalant bends, which are captured through the rapper’s thumb-only right-hand picking technique.

Although the whole thing has admittedly caught us a little bit off guard, a moment of quiet reflection puts Lil Wayne and Jon Batiste’s latest musical exploits into a clearer light.

After all, this same striped six-string (and, indeed, the master guitar legend who crafted it) featured on Michael Jackson’s Beat It back in 1982 – a milestone in music history that saw Van Halen team up with the King of Pop for the ultimate pop-rock crossover.

It was a watershed moment for guitar and its place in popular music, with Beat It featuring not one, but two electric guitar heroes: Van Halen and Steve Lukather.

So, is Uneasy an attempt to be 2023’s Beat It moment? Well, probably not – it’s more than likely just a nice nod to the musical pioneers that came before them, and a conscious effort to show the blurred musical boundaries between ‘conventional’ guitar and rap music.

Whatever the case, it's definitely something you probably never expected to see.

As such, the quest for this generation’s Beat It continues, although according to Tom Morello, he and Post Malone – another pop-rap superstar with an appreciation for the guitar – almost cracked the code after working on an unreleased “phat jam” together.

Post Malone might be slightly more aligned with Van Halen’s guitar work, too, after he recently tripped up during a Tiny Desk performance because he was too busy thinking about EVH’s playing.

“I can,” the pop-rap superstar quipped at the time in regard to playing a Van Halen-like solo, “I just don’t really feel like it.”

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.