The 5th installment in rap mogul Lil Wayne’s "Tha Carter" catalog, Mr. Carter returns to the main stage after a 7-year feud with his YMCMB associates. Unfortunately, the ingenious light that makes Wayne one of the greats has faded on a longer-than-necessary project that fails to fulfill its unprecedented hype.
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to face the facts.
Take off your shoes, pour yourself a drink, have a seat and get comfortable. I know most of you already don’t like the direction this is going in, and you are more than entitled to your own opinion.
Unless you live under a rock, you, like me, have partaken in the colossal hype leading up to the long-awaited release of Tha Carter V. Millions of tweets and posts of the same nature.
I’m certain you don’t want to hear this, but it’s time somebody embraced it.
Lil Wayne has hit the end of the road.
AND THAT’S OKAY.
Look, I’m not saying this album is bad, but in essence what this album stands as is a shell of what could’ve been in Weezy’s dramatic return. First, let’s start with the positives:
This album starts out very strong. Like very, very strong. The intro is a heartfelt voicemail from Wayne’s mother, followed by an explosion of four fantastic tracks. “Dedicate” is reminiscent of some of Wayne’s earliest work, and the addicting key-oriented mixed with Wayne’s flawless delivery make for one of the albums highlights. The transition between “Dedicate” and “Uproar” is a snippet from a speech by Barack Obama, where Obama says;
They might think they’ve got a pretty good jumpshot, or a pretty
good flow. But our kids can’t all aspire to be Lebron or Lil Wayne!
Lil Wayne knows he’s a diamond in the rough, and this proves his self-awareness quite well with this snippet.
Next is “Uproar” an incredibly catchy track that will more than certainly inspire a couple dance challenges on the likes of Twitter and Instagram. “Let It Fly” and “Can’t Be Broken” hold their own as two formidable records, but nothing can prepare the listener for the albums 8th song.
“Mona Lisa” is in a league of its own. Weezy and Kendrick Lamar are two of the game’s all-time greatest lyricists, and this song is one of the best duo tracks from Wayne in a very long time, rivaled by “No Love” with Eminem. Wayne spits an impressive verse, blending his flow impeccably with the structure of the beat. Kendrick on the other hand, he’s on a whole different level, which comes as a shock to no one.
On “Mona Lisa”, Kendrick is a metaphorical Claude van Goh, painting the story of a famous couple on the brink of chaos, questioning each other’s loyalty at every turn. His voice on this record is haunting, and at the escalation of the couple’s inevitable demise he switches his tone to one of pure fear and anger. This track is beautiful, and has the ability to give any fan of rap hope that Wayne still has it.
This, unfortunately, is where the album begins to drop off.
A common trend in “Tha Carter” discography, most of the albums feature a flawless first half and a tolerable second half. This isn’t a shocker, as most albums in music as a whole feature the best songs early in the record.
On the first four Carter projects, the drop off is a slight decline. On Tha Carter V, the drop off is more of a black diamond slope.
It’s not that the second half is bad, it’s just that, well, it’s boring. Honestly, the better word for it would be dated, and this makes more than enough sense. For those of you who aren’t as informed, Wayne has been working on this album since 2011, and it hasn’t been released until this year due to legal troubles.
All things aside, it’s blatantly obvious that a good number of the songs were made between 2011 and 2015, and in today’s rapidly changing music game, it just doesn’t work. This point is followed up by a question, “If the reason you think it’s just alright is it’s dated nature, then shouldn’t we just disregard any music before this year?”.
The answer to this question leads me to my second criticism, the album’s quality and length.
For the first time in a very long time, Weezy seems a little lazy. I get that much of the project is meant to be thankful and reminiscent (a lot of this album is slower), but the slower, emotional songs leave the listener quite bored. Granted, the appearances from Wayne’s sister Reginae Carter are a great touch to the album, but much of the content of the latter half drags on way too long.
Speaking of length, why in the world did this project need to be 23 songs? I get that most of Weezy’s album do span 16 to 18 songs in length, but this project would have done much better at 15 tracks. Much like Lil Wayne’s close counterpart Drake, Tha Carter V and Scorpion both lack in quality but flourish in quantity, and if there’s one thing we as consumers of the music world have learned this year, it’s that this simply just does not work in favor of the artist at hand.
At the end of the day, Tha Carter V isn’t a step in the wrong direction for Lil Wayne, in fact, there really isn’t a wrong step he can take. Much like his close friend Eminem, his legacy is cemented. Whether you like it or not, Weezy is one of the greatest rappers of our generation, and while his most recent album isn’t what most expected, it’s an admirable return from one of the best the game has ever seen.
So, keep working Tunechi, but next time, give us something a little more memorable, just go out with a bang.
As for Tha Carter V? I leave you, the reader with one last statement. In the modified words of the man himself:
Weezy F Baby, and the F is for fine, I guess?