Despite the ever-publicized prison sentences and push-backs, Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter IV has been one of the most talked about and highly anticipated albums of this year. To many, this is his first official record since 2008’s Tha Carter III, and most expected the “Mixtape Weezy” to show up and deliver his signature one line double entendres and animated flow. Unfortunately, the rap gods had other plans for this release.
One of Lil Wayne’s biggest criticisms is that he’s been unable to handle the load of an entire album and this project only carves that reputation in cement. Rather than being one collective piece, it’s a fragmented assortment of songs that do not have any clear direction. Just look at the aimless “Megaman” where Weezy lacks complete thought from line to line, resulting in corny music largely about nothing. The use of the Supa Dupa flow on that track can be considered nothing short of abuse, especially when he blurts out “You can have it your way, Burger King.” Another example of Wayne’s perceived “laziness” comes from the fact that he doesn’t appear on the album’s “Interlude” and “Outro”. However, it’s probably for the best as there isn’t a drug – legal or otherwise – that could have gotten Wayne high enough to spit fire even remotely close to matching the flow and intensity that Nas and Tech N9ne showed while obliterating their respective tracks.
When Wayne does try to step things up a notch by showing his aggression on “It’s Good,” he winds up taking below the belt shots at Jay-Z, a move that’s obviously a plea for some attention and serves little purpose other than shock value. And arguably the only creative moment comes on “How To Love,” as he even tries to test out his singing pipes on the out-of-place record that just so happens to be the most inventive.
The majority of the producers held themselves down quite handily, though. Bangladesh does a masterful job flipping another obscure sample and turning vocals in to an instrumental to turn “6 Foot 7 Foot,” into a fitting sequel to the classic “A Milli.” Additionally, Ohnel’s Jimmy Carter soundbyte is also an interesting flavor that really brings the synths of “President Carter” to life. However, it is perplexing that the half-assed “Megaman” and “John” beats don’t even try to hide the fact that they’re cheap knock-offs of Drake’s “Ransom” and Ross’s “I’m Not a Star,” respectively.
On the flip side, “Blunt Blowin,” is a solid kick-starter and Drake’s hook alone on the leather soft “She Will” makes for a bona fide hit. But the aforementioned “6 Foot 7 Foot” is the song that captures all of the expectations of the album. This was the viciously spitting Lil’ Weezyana representer that should have showed up and participated in the rest of the record. The dazzling punch lines and vivid imagery are flashbacks to his golden age and end up setting the bar that the rest of the tracks are measured against.
Perhaps the next time we can listen to that vintage Weezy we wanted will be when his probation is up and he once again roams the studio double cupped and blunted. But until then, his music runs the risk of becoming a tired and an uninspired, drug-depleted shadow of what once was.
Label: Young Money/Cash Money/Universal | Producers: Timbaland, Cool & Dre, Polow Da Don, Boi-1da, Bangladesh, Diplo, Emile, The Smeezingtons, T-Minus, Noel “Detail” Fisher, Develop, Kenoe, Infamous, Rob Holladay, Willy Will, Snizzy, MegaMan, Young Fyre, Ayo The Producer, Commission, Drum Up, Matthew Burnett, Wizz Dumb, Filthy