After two subpar albums (Rebirth & I Am Not a Human Being) Lil Wayne is back with the sequel to his 2008 breakout Tha Carter III. Gone is the autotune and faux rock vibe (for the most part). Without a doubt, this is the best album he’s released in three years, but does it top Tha Carter I-III?
Well, that’s a tough question to answer, the album needs some time to settle before such claims can be made. One thing I will say is this is one of the best hip-hop albums of 2011, it’s one step ahead of Watch The Throne because unlike that album, Tha Carter IV feels like an actual album and not a mixtape. If you’re confused by that statement it means it sounds like it had more thought put into it, and the songs go well together.
For example, the Intro, Interlude, and Outru all have the same beat and bridges the album together nicely. Wayne starts out with the Intro–but on the Interlude he hands it off to Tech N9ne and Andree 3000. While Tech’s verse is good, André 3000’s steals the show, in fact, he has the best verse on the album. The Outru isn’t as strong as the Intro and Interlude, things go downhill after Bun B and Nas are done rapping. Actually, Lil Wayne should have come back in and ended the album instead of Busta Rhymes.
The production and Way… umm, Tunechi’s lyrical muscle are what make this an enjoyable spin. Some would argue that the best songs have already been released as singles, How To Love, She Will, John, and 6 Foot & Foot. The truth is, there right, those are the best songs for the most part. But tracks like Nightmares of The Bottom, So Special, It’s Good, Interlude, and the Outro are no lightweights. John Legend’s chorus combined with Tunechi’s verses on “So Special” is the perfect mix. Hopefully this becomes a single.
If you glanced at the positives listed at the top of this review, I’m sure you noticed that I listed a Jay-Z diss as one of them. It comes towards the end of “It’s Good”. Basically, Lil Wayne say’s he’ll kidnap Beyonce and hold her for ransom. Here’s the exact quote:
[quote]Talkin ’bout baby money? I got your baby money. Kidnap your b*tch, get that ‘how much you love your lady’ money…[/quote]
It’s not that this diss is all that great, I just love a good beef, and it’s nice (sad) hearing him defend Baby’s honor. Although, I honestly think Jay-Z has more money than Baby and his son.
Tha Carter IV isn’t perfect, Lil Wayne reuses a few lyrics one too many times, we get it, you tried to f*ck the world, and we don’t care what the “F” in Weezy F. Baby stands for. Then there’s the T-Pain intro/chorus on “How To Hate”. It’s terrible, T-Pain completely ruins the song and derails the flow of the album. Ugh, he really needs to retire.
The Deluxe Edition has three extra songs, I Like The View, Mirror, and Two Shots. Normally bonus tracks are throwaway songs, but that isn’t the case here. “I Like The View” has one of the best beats on the album, and a catchy chorus. Meanwhile “Mirror” has a through the walls beat (à la Marvin’s Room by Drake) and a chorus courtesy of Bruno Mars. If released as a single this would blow up on top 40 radio. This is Lil Wayne talking about himself, like he’s looking at a mirror. This concept is nothing new and he even references the king of pop, but it works. “Two Shots” is the weakest of the three, it’s just decent.
Some fans will label Tha Carter IV as average, but that’s more a side effect of their unrealistic expectations. Really, where you expecting him to pull a Kanye and recruit acts like Bon Iver? Maybe it doesn’t quite achieve the greatness of the earlier chapters, but compared to the crap he’s been releasing for the past two years, Tha Carter IV is worthy of praise. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, but it hits all the right notes while highlighting that Wayne’s best days aren’t necessarily behind him.