And now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for...drum roll please. Tha Carter III, the most highly anticipated hip-hop album of all time, has finally arrived. In the ridiculously long build-up to the release of Lil Wayne’s alleged masterpiece expectations grew so insanely high that two months ago I wrote, “if Tha Carter III doesn’t wash my car, bake me a carrot cake and give me a blowjob, I’m going to be disappointed.” Well, let’s just say that after listening to the album for days my car’s still dirty and there’s not a cake …
DJBooth Album Review
Tha Carter III is a wide-ranging affair that careens wildly from teenage-girl friendly pop to bone-crushing obscenity-laden tirades, and the overall effect means that while there’s something on this album for everyone to love, there’s also something for everyone to hate. All the lyrical heads out there undoubtedly wanted Tha Carter III to be wall-to-wall tracks like Dr. Carter, a heavily conceptualized song featuring Weezy performing linguistic surgery on the sometimes comatose hip-hop game; ending with him proclaiming “welcome back hip-hop, I saved your life.” Or even something along the lines of Mr. Carter, his collaboration with the similarly named Shawn Carter (a.k.a. Jay-Z). I was hoping that this track would finally produce a clear-cut winner for the best rapper alive spot, but the truth is Hova’s complexly calculated flows and Wayne’s stream-of-consciousness rhymes are stylistically so far apart that directly comparing them is almost impossible. As much as we want to hear two all-time greats spit on the same joint, the pair have now twice only succeeded in producing vaguely disappointing tracks (first Brooklyn 2.0 and now Mr. Carter). Some things just weren't made to go together, and apparently Hova and Weezy mix about as well as Oprah and spandex.
On the flip side, with all the accolades thrown Mr. Wayne’s way it’s easy to forget that he’s never had a real solo hit until Lollipop hypnotized America with its trance-inducing beat and Wayne’s robotically sexual innuendos. Tha Carter III takes a few more stabs at chart success, most notably alongside the other King of the Guest Verse, T-Pain, on the bouncing Got Money. With a heavyweight line-up like Got Money is guaranteed serious spins on the airwaves, but it’s also one of the album’s most predictable and maybe even formulaic tracks. And that’s just the start. Wayne uses Tha Carter III to display every style imaginable, from Kanye produced soul tracks (Let The Beat Build) to blues-laden odes to his hometown (Tie My Hands) to swaggering Southern- fried bangers (La La) and everything in between. That versatility’s impressive, but it’s also too inconsistent to make Tha Carter III a landmark album along the lines of Illmatic, Ready to Die or Thug Life. Then again, Biggie or Pac never dropped 100 ill verses a year. Up until now, the unofficial rule was that in order to be considered a legend, a rapper had to produce at least one truly classic album, but Lil Wayne is so far outside the lines of conventional thought that to apply the usual criteria to his career is a huge mistake (which hasn’t stopped most reviewers from doing it anyway). Love him or hate him, Weezy is undeniably pushing the boundaries of the art form, and it’s the least we can do as critics and fans to expand how we would usually judge him. Or we could just simplistically label him as either “hot” or “wack” and successfully avoid anything that even remotely resembles actual brain activity. You know, either one.
Quick note: I know this review’s getting long. So if you’re already bored of me then feel free to stop here. But if you’d like to read me break down Wayne’s possible suicidal tendencies, then by all means, read on.
There’s a reason I’ve started calling Weezy, Mr. Out of His F**king Mind. At times on Tha Carter III his rhymes are so incoherent and schizophrenic his sanity seems to teeter on the edge of collapse. For example, here’s a rough summary of the inexplicably dope track Phone Home: a piano melody, circus sound effects, a monster Cool and Dre beat, a chorus built around a famous quote from ET, and Wayne spitting rhymes like, “I’m a bear, like black and white hair, so I’m polar.” It’s so strange only Weezy could pull it off, but it’s nothing compared to Playing With Fire, a rock-infused track that culminates in Wayne describing checking into the same hotel where Martin Luther King was assassinated while screaming: “Assassinate me! Assassinate me!” It’s such a shockingly insane moment it’s hard to believe it made it onto the album. Or maybe, just maybe, Lil Wayne understands that the surest way to become a hip-hop legend on par with Biggie and Pac is to die an early tragic death. Could he be so obsessively driven to reach legendary status that he’s willing, even on some subconscious level hoping, to die; be it a quick death by homicide or a slow suicide by syrup and painkillers? Greatest rapper alive or not, Wayne is unquestionably the most fascinating rapper alive – and I suggest you f**king appreciate him while he’s here, because there’s never been a rapper like Lil Wayne before, and there never will be again.
DJBooth Rating - 4 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on 06/8/08
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First DJ Booth Appearance:
"Hollywood Divorce ft. Lil' Wayne & Snoop Dogg" (2006)
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