Review: Lil Wayne – ‘Tha Carter IV’ (Album)

During an interview in Amsterdam for the 2009 Carter documentary, Lil Wayne, obviously under the influence of plenty of syrup and good weed proclaimed, “To be an ultimate artist, I believe you have to be like me, I try to do everything . . . when you be lookin’ for a Lil Wayne album, you gonna be lookin’ for the best rap, the best singin’, the best songs . . . full of music, I want you to look for that, not just what you look for now . . . I’m re-creating the face of music period . . . that’s how I want to be, I do everything good.”  I was patiently waiting until the day when this would legitimately come true, and Weezy would release an album that hit on all aspects of music, not just rap. That day has yet to come, and Tha Carter IV is just simply good, not great.

At age 28, Dwayne Carter has already cemented his name in the list of rap greats, but is slowly-but-surely moving toward the list that includes the most legendary artists across all genres of music. As a multi-millionaire by the age of 20, Mr. Carter’s genius has never been questioned, but Tha Carter IV really proves how much smarter he is than the rappers in his peer group. Officially releasing five songs prior to the release (How To Love, John, She Will, 6 Foot 7 Foot and I’m Good), which was somewhat disheartening to his true fans, undoubtedly built up a ridiculous buzz (2 million downloads the day it leaked and is on pace to sell 700k in the first week).With two Drake features, a love song, a Bangladesh banger, and a hit record with Rick Ross, the singles catered to every niche in the hip-hop, rap and R&B game. Consequently, this not only built up his already ridiculous fan-base, but gave all types of music lovers a little of what they want in a Lil Wayne album.

Without question the difference between Wayne’s mixtapes and albums is the depth of his lyrics. Dating back to Tha Carter I, Wayne has usually delivered verses with much more substance when it came to his albums. Unfortunately, Tha Carter IV fell a little short of this standard only producing a few songs with true composition and meaning.  One track that really stood out as thought provoking was “President Carter”, which producer Infamous samples Jimmy Carter’s Presidential Oath for the hook, “President Carter, P-President Carter, President Carter, P-President Carter.” And Dwayne Carter raps as if he’s giving his own type of presidential speech, “Gorillas in suits / The holy war, the spiritual troops / Fighting over the mythical truth/ Drowning in the political soup / They shoot missiles and nukes / Taking out such a pivotal group / The body count is the physical proof / And they thought drugs were killing the youth.” From touching on the holy wars in the middle east and weapons of mass destruction to the poverty and injustice in his hometown, “President Carter” stands as a testament that Wayne isn’t just rapping about sex, drugs, and guns on every track.

Another standout tracks is, “Nightmare’s Of The Bottom”, which Wayne performed a cappella on his MTV Unplugged appearance. With a simple piano-based instrumental, “Nightmare’s Of The Bottom” is the prime example of when Wayne’s musical ideas clash perfectly with the beat that accompanies it.Wayne raps,”Back to my journey/ that bullshit don’t concern me/ If I knew I was going to jail/ I would have fucked my attorney.”

Oddly enough two of the other songs that also catch your attention are the”Interlude” and “Outro“, which bolster verses from the likes of Nas, Bun B, Tech Nine, Andre 3000, and Busta Rhymes, but no Wayne verses. And to be honest, Wayne was smart leaving himself out of each of the two tracks because at the moment his slow, one-word punchline verses just don’t hold enough substance to even test the rappers he had brought in as features.

Wayne has hinted at the idea of this being his last studio album, but for his sake I hope it’s not.  He hasn’t yet re-created the face of music period, but Tha Carter IV does at least deliver ingenious metaphors, catchy songwriting, several well-executed tracks, and offers some worthy competition to Watch The Throne as the album worthy of the 2011 music throne. Hopefully this isn’t the last we hear from Lil Wayne.

Rating: 8/10

Favorites: Nightmares Of The Bottom, Blunt Blowin, President Carter

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