Lil Wayne - Tha Carter III
Record Label: Cash Money / Universal / Young Money
Release Date: June 10, 2008
Lil Wayne’s newest release, Tha Carter III, is as odd, spastic, scatterbrained and passionate as the rapper himself, and ultimately flounders as a result of the album’s sheer excess.
The first four tracks are absolutely fantastic, and if they had been made into their own EP, would have been able to perfectly showcase all the different sides of Lil Wayne while still maintaining a semblance of fluidity. “3 Peat” kicks off the album with Wayne doing what he does best; rapping with his signature flow and odd word combinations (“It’s Tha Carter III bitch, better put ya supper up / Hollygrove I throw it up like I’m tryin’a lose my gut / Fuck is up, beat him up, like a million uppercuts”). “Mr. Carter” is Lil Wayne’s well-deserved "victory lap," following the immense popularity that has met the 100-plus songs he has released in the past few years; and the song features a guest spot by none other than Jay-Z (Sean Carter). “A Milli,” shows Wayne making use of his blended rap/reggae delivery, and sports some of his best lines in the entire album (“I’m a Millionaire / I’m a Young Money Millie-in-aire / Tougher than Nigerian hair / My criteria compared to your career just isn’t fair / I’m a venereal disease like a menstrual bleed.”), despite the annoying repetition of “a milli” in the background. I would say that “Got Money” is the most mainstream or biggest party song on the album (it features T-Pain), but “Lollipop” has already stolen that title due to way too much radio play. Regardless, the song is actually a ton of fun and makes for a great listen.
All of a sudden, the album takes a sharp turn in the wrong direction in the form of “Comfortable.” Wayne’s rapping skills dip significantly, and mixed with the R&B singing scattered all over, makes it the worst song on the album. “Dr. Carter” is an odd song to review, because on the one hand, the rapper does do some pretty clever stuff (he even borrows a line from Kanye West), but on the other hand, the cheesy “doctor/nurse” dialogue makes the song entirely cringe-worthy. Interestingly, the song is very much like the album; it is great at some spots, but cheesy and bad in others.
Yet again, Wayne makes a bad move: “Phone Home.” The song finds him claiming that he is a Martian and featuring a chorus that is annoying at best. As if to fully assert the dizzying scatterbrained qualities of the album, “Tie My Hands” pulls a 180 into a slowed, R&B-styled rap, which manages to keep listeners’ attention (but just barely).
The rest of the album (with three exceptions) isn’t worth the remaining 43-minutes (the album is almost 80-minutes total). Ironically, two of the three songs that are good among them are polar opposites, and just happen to play back-to-back. “Shoot Me Down,” easily one of the best songs on the album, shows a more serious Wayne rapping over a morose electric guitar line. Somehow that song transitions into “Lollipop,” which, despite being almost unbearably cheesy (honestly, he couldn’t think of anything better than, “I say he so sweet / Make her wanna lick the rapper / So I let her lick the rapper”?) is still actually a lot of fun. “Playing with Fire,” which has grown to become my favorite song on the entire album, bowls in heavy with an ominous piano-line and some caustic background singing from Betty Wright. Wayne’s delivery changes into a kind of manic-waveriness (especially when he raps, “So assassinate me bitch / ‘Cause I’m doin’ the same shit Martin Luther King did / Checkin’ in the same hotel, in the same suite bitch / Same balcony like assassinate me bitch”) that essentially scares listeners into believing every word he raps.
Ultimately, what really impairs this album is the fact that there is almost forty minutes of garbage on it. What’s disappointing is the fact that if you combined the best songs from this album, The Leak, and The Drought is Over 2 (The Carter 3 Sessions) you would have one hell of an album. As it stands, there’s a pretty sweet mixtape, a fairly good EP, and a mediocre studio album.