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Album Review: Lil Wayne Cements His Legacy With “Tha Carter V”

Lil Wayne performs on stage at Firefly Music Festival on June 18, 2018 in Dover, Del. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

On Sept. 28, Lil Wayne released “Tha Carter V,” the 12th studio album of his career and easily the most anticipated one.

Many Lil Wayne fans had been waiting for “Tha Carter V” since 2014, but due to well-documented legal troubles with rapper Birdman and the Cash Money Records label, the project was postponed for years. In June, Lil Wayne officially left Cash Money Records and was free to give the world the album. This didn’t stop controversy from following the release date as it was originally supposed to come out on Sept. 21, and was then moved to the 27th — coinciding with Lil Wayne’s 36th birthday.

Now, with the album finally released the day after his birthday, Lil Wayne looks to cap off the popular “Tha Carter” series with a bang.

The album opens with a heartfelt message from his mother. She is heard crying, being thankful, expressing her love for her son and showing excitement for the world to hear his music. His mother plays a key role in his life and is even featured on the cover art of “Tha Carter V.”

The album has many layers and covers a wide range of topics. The first official song on the album is “Don’t Cry,” featuring controversial and recently deceased rapper XXXTentacion. The track is one of many that give off a contemplative tone with Lil Wayne giving us lines such as “I see death around the corner” and “I sip from the fountain of youth so if I die young, blame the juice.”

Lil Wayne continues this introspective mood on tracks like “Open Letter,” “Demon” and “Used 2” where he opens up about his feelings of self-hatred, death, battling his personal demons and just reflecting on his past. Of these tracks, “Open Letter” is the most impactful as, despite only containing a single verse, it is 4 1/2 minutes of Lil Wayne letting his fans, family and friends know exactly how he feels.

The project is also filled with upbeat reflections on his life. Songs like “Dedicate,” “Famous,” “Problems” and “Dope New Gospel” showcase Lil Wayne’s cockier side. He samples a speech from President Barack Obama where he name-dropped Lil Wayne, saying he’s in the same category as LeBron James when it comes to inspiring kids in “Dedication.” Lil Wayne also brags about his status as the “best rapper alive” while comparing himself to Michael Jackson.

Another talking point on this album is in regards to his relationships with women. There are songs like “Dark Side Of The Moon” and “What About Me,” which each give off a sentimental vibe. “Dark Side Of The Moon” also features Nicki Minaj, but she doesn’t provide a rap verse, which adds to the sentiment of the track. While “What About Me,” which features Sosamann, is about a girl who has seemingly moved on from the rapper, he wonders what she still thinks of him.

Tracks like “Mess” and “Perfect Stranger” go into detail about his love life and also talk about the women he’s been seeing and questions if any of them really know him.

“Mona Lisa” might be the best track in regards to the topic of relationships with women. With a guest verse from Kendrick Lamar, the song mainly features Lil Wayne telling the story of someone who uses girls to set up and rob others. Once the third verse comes around, Lamar enters and seems to tell a story within his verse as someone who finds out his girl is cheating on him with Lil Wayne. This is a standout track as the rappers match up well together with Lamar seemingly changing his rap cadences to match that of Lil Wayne’s.

When Lil Wayne isn’t discussing a particular topic on the album, he is just simply rapping to showcase the abilities he never lost. Songs such as “Uproar,” “Took His Time,” “Open Safe” and “Let It Fly,” the latter featuring Travis Scott, don’t tell a story or have a concise theme, but are all highlights on the album regardless — especially “Uproar,” “Open Safe,” and “Let It Fly,” where for the first half of his verse, Lil Wayne uses his flow to make a play on the words “advise,” “mind” and “line,” showing his lyrical ability.

Another highlight on the album is “Start This S*** Off Right,” and has appearances from Ashanti, Mack Maine and Mannie Fresh. This track stands alone as the one party song on the whole album. With its catchy hook and simple verses, this could easily be a radio hit or a chart-topping song.

The album comes full circle with its contemplative themes on “Let It All Work Out.” The biggest take from the outro is that Lil Wayne admits he tried to commit suicide at age 12 when his mother told him he would no longer be allowed to rap.

The first half of the album is great. While the second half isn’t as good but by no means bad, Lil Wayne keeps the album flowing well. The production isn’t spectacular or groundbreaking, but  doesn’t take away from the overall sound of the project. While there were no bad features — the top two being Kendrick Lamar and Travis Scott — Lil Wayne was easily the standout on all tracks.

If “Tha Carter V” is really his last album, Lil Wayne can easily make an argument for one of the best of all time with his discography.

4/5

 

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