After three years and several delays, Dwayne ‘Lil Wayne’ Carter has finally returned to deliver the ending to his ‘Carter Trilogy’: “Tha Carter III.” Does the album live up to its lofty expectations? No, quite unfortunately. Lil Wayne still hasn’t quite proven his claim that he is the best rapper alive. But even with the slight letdowns, there is much to enjoy here. There’s certainly something for everyone.
The lead single, “Lollipop,” is certainly present, in all of its female-crowd pleasing glory. There is the mandatory T-Pain collaboration, “Got Money,” which already seems to be in heavy rotation on mainstream radio. “A Milli” and “Mr. Carter,” a Jay-Z collab, also made the cut. Both display glimpses of Wayne’s brilliant wordplay.
“Tie My Hands,” an ode to the Hurricane Katrina disaster, is probably the strongest track. With Robin Thicke on the hook backed by a heartfelt acoustic guitar instrumental, Lil Wayne actually sounds both humble and sober (a rare feat), and speaks on the tragedy in his hometown, New Orleans. For a moment, it seems that Wayne may have finally put the syrup down. But then we hear what is most likely the trippiest song he’s made since “I Feel Like Dying.”
Complete with spooky Halloween music and UFO sounds, “Phone Home” has a chilling space-age beat. Lil Wayne viciously snarls, “We are not the same, I am a martian,” and it is clear he is on another planet. “I’m used to promethazine in two cups/ I’m screwed up, and ya ain’t **** if you ain’t never been screwed up,” he then says. The funny thing is, I actually like this track. I’d probably enjoy it more, however, if Wayne would put the cups down, if only to record the track.
The album has the potential to be great at times, but lapses back into mediocrity at others. Several songs are done extraordinarily well, yet others are weak in execution due to Weezy’s not making much sense lyrically. The beat for “Playing With Fire” had potential, but Wayne’s lyrics are all over the place and he sounds intoxicated to the point of incoherence. “Let the Beat Build” suffers a similar fate. He’s simply high while recording too often.
“Tha Carter III” is Lil Wayne’s first studio album in two years, but it’s also worth noting that Wayne has put out several dozens of mixtape tracks in the last year alone. For this reason, it’s likely that he has become more concerned with quantity than quality. Don’t get me wrong; I really like a lot of songs on the album. But for the self-proclaimed “best rapper alive,” one would expect every one of these tracks to far surpass any of his previous work. Unfortunately, that level of quality is simply not evident. And just imagine for one second, how much better the album could have been if he didn’t make hotheaded claims, wasn’t high on nearly every song, or (gasp) actually wrote some of his lyrics down.
-Robert Burns, II
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