Artist: Lil Wayne
Album: Tha Carter III
Comments: Lil Wayne needs an editor. Some of the ideas he develops in Tha Carter III never would have made it past the planning stages if Wayne had someone in his ear, someone who could wrangle and focus his obvious talent and emphatic delivery.
“Phone Home” is one such bad idea fleshed out, a song in which Wayne raps about being a Martian. “Mrs. Officer” is another flounder; Wayne’s fantasies about bedding himself a lady cop might be awesome and vivid to him, but to everyone else it’s just boring story telling.
Of course, part of what makes Tha Carter III such a fun and engaging listen is being able to see an obvious genius run unchecked, indulging himself in almost every way. Despite the two bad ideas listed above, it’s hard to blame Wayne for trying to operate creatively within the often unoriginal genre of mainstream hip-hop.
“Comfortable,” a Kanye West produced smooth jam with “single” written all over it, is an love song / warning from Wayne to the woman in his life; don’t take me for granted. “To the left, to the left / if you want to leave be my guest / you can step,” Weezy says to his girl. After all “If you don’t love me / somebody else will.” It’s a hard truth, but it plays more honestly than any other current song of its kind.
Another good idea successfully run amuck is the engaging “Dr.Carter,” in which Wayne plays doctor and tries to fix the rap game, with minimal success. With smooth jazz production and a laundry list of good vibe and smart moves, it’s a cunning dig on the state of hip-hop that calls out no one and everyone and paints Wayne as some kind of Winston Wolf like savior at the same time.
Sure, bravado is nothing new in hip-hop, but Wayne actually earns the right to be so proud. His lyrics, while not always mind blowing, showcase a man who has studied hip-hop, and as such can switch his flow and delivery, often times in mid verse; its as if Wayne has so much on his mind, he has to struggle to get it all out. He bobs his voice up and down, at times sounding like the king of the mountain (“Mr. Carter,” “Let The Beat Build”) and other times sounding like he’s ready to leap from a building to end the pain (“Playing with Fire,” “3 Peat). The album never gets boring, because Wayne never gets boring.
And so, even after repeat listens, I keep coming back to Tha Carter III. Its an album over-loaded with original ideas, some obviously better than others, and with enough twists and turns to keep a listener engaged for a long time to come. Wayne spends a majority of the album claiming his title as one of the best rappers currently active in hip hop, and listening to this work of cracked genius, it’s hard to disagree.
Rating: 8 out of 10
Key Tracks: Mr. Carter, Dr. Carter, Comfortable, Playing with Fire
Buy, Steal, Skip: Buy