Wayne is in such flawless form here. You remember where you were the first time you heard this song the way your parents remember where they were when Kennedy got shot. The fact that 367,486 other MCs rapped over this beat and not one surpassed Wayne's initial efforts is a true testament to what was accomplished here lyrically.
There are dozens of mixtape tracks, ones like "Upgrade" off Da Drought 3 or "Scarface" off Tha Carter III Sessions, which satisfy a more traditional, and to some, more impressive, style of lyricism, but "A Milli" is almost avant garde, and it was still a single. In a time when Auto-Tune and sparkly Jim Jonsin beats—a formula Wayne himself carried to success on "Lollipop"—were du jour, Weezy rapped over snares, bass, and a chopped vocal sample for three-and-a-half minutes straight, sent it to radio—and people were captivated. Understandably. One part goes: "They say I'm rapping like Big, Jay, and 2Pac/Andre 3000, where is Erykah Badu at," and at the time, you couldn't really deny that Wayne was putting out work on par with the greats.
Flow is one part of being lyrical, and it's admirable the way Wayne just floats all over the track with total disregard for any form or convention except his own awesomeness. With a support structure like that in place, Wayne's actual rhymes don't even need to have much purpose or logic. Every bar is truly stream of consciousness and free association ad nauseum. One minute dude is talking about goblins; the next it's how there's a Maserati on a bridge pussy popping. It's all seamless and rhymes impeccably. There's a lot of setup and context to why this song is important, and what it really meant for Wayne at this point in his career, but at the core of this argument lies the fact that Wayne was simply rhyming his ass off. "I open the Lamborghini/Hoping them crackers see me/Like, 'Look at that bastard Weezy.'" Are you kidding?
Wayne manipulates completely random words and scenarios into rhymes with such breathless efficiency on this record. No matter what he's done since, it's "A Milli" and its lasting impact on his legacy keep him in the conversation with some of the best to ever do it. —Ernest Baker