Outside of Dr. Dre’s Detox, which seems likely to remain in the vaults forever, one of the mythically great, lost albums in rap is Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter V. It’s supposedly already finished, stretched out across two CDs, and sitting there, in a vault somewhere — or in Martin Shkreli’s hard drive — collecting dust. Because of the ongoing legal conflict between Weezy and his Cash Money label head/father figure Birdman however, the fifth installment of the Lousiana rapper’s career-spanning series has languished in the dark, growing staler and more highly coveted by Tunechi stans with every passing day.
Every now and then, fans will be reminded of its existence, like recently when pharma-bro Shkreli shared a glimpse of two of the tracks during a live streaming session, or through a random Birdman interview. Wayne himself sometimes allude to its existence, with vague promises that its coming. Then, just like the prospects of his signing up with Jay Z’s label Roc Nation, nothing happens. The wait continues.
It’s been just a little bit over three years since the world was supposed to receive Tha Carter V. So much has happened in that time and in the period leading up to that botched release date, that I thought it’d be worth taking a minute to reflect on how we got here and how this might all end up.
August 29, 2011
Lil Wayne releases Tha Carter IV. The reaction among fans and critics is decidedly mixed. People everywhere begin clamoring for Tha Carter V.
July 4, 2012
Wayne shows up at the X Games and makes his first public comments about Tha Carter V, saying that it will “come most likely next year.” Famous last words.
November 12, 2012
DJ Sway scores an interview with Tunechi who tells him that Tha Carter V will be his curtain call. “I’ve been rappin’ since I was 8 years old. I’m 30 now, man. That’s a long time, man.”
March 22, 2013
Wayne releases his tenth studio album, I Am Not a Human Being II. The reviews are again mixed. Speculation about the next Carter album grows.
September 1, 2013
Weezy drops the fifth, and to date, final installment of his Dedication mixtape series, Dedication 5.
February 15, 2014
Weezy’s protege Drake is performing during NBA All-Star Weekend where he brings out Wayne and reveals that Tha Carter V will drop on May 5, 2014.
April 28, 2014
Kobe Bryant tweets out an image that many take to be the album cover along with a caption that reads, “Carter V season begins #carterV.” Weezy shared the image on Instagram with a caption of his own that stated, “Believe me.”
May 5, 2014
No sign of Tha Carter V.
May 6, 2014
The album’s lead single, a collaboration with Drake titled “Believe Me” drops and is eventually certified platinum.
May 28, 2014
Wayne teases a song from Tha Carter V titled “Side B*tch” on his Weezy Wednesday vlog.
July 2, 2014
Wayne drops the second single from the album, a track called “Krazy.” The video shows up a month later.
August 8, 2014
Weezy this the road for a joint tour with Drake, called Drake Vs. Lil Wayne that keeps them both out on the road until the end of September.
August 14, 2014
Wayne shows up on ESPN’s Sportscenter and says that the album is now going to come out on October 28. He also reveals the cover art.
August 26, 2014
A third single, “Grindin'” hits, once again featuring Drake.
October 28, 2014
Tha Carter V is nowhere to be found. Tunechi share a video on YouTube titled, “Lil Wayne’s Carter 5 P.S.A” where he reveals that, “We had to push the album back due to a problem.” That problem is apparently that he recorded too many songs. 31 tracks to be exact. So, to not cheat the fans he decides to hold off on putting it out, while positing that he may break it up into two different parts.
November 25, 2014
Wayne releases another single “Let’s Start A Fire.”
December 2, 2014
The rug gets pulled out from under everyone. Wayne takes to Twitter where he reveals that Birdman and Cash Money are refusing to put out Tha Carter V. “I am truly and deeply sorry to all my fans but most of all to myself and my family for putting us in this situation,” he wrote. “I want off this label and nothing to do with these people but unfortunately it ain’t that easy… I am a prisoner and so is my creativity.”
January 28, 2015
Lil Wayne files a $51 million-dollar lawsuit against Cash Money and asks a judge to declare him the joint copyright holder of everything released on the label including recordings by Drake and Nicki Minaj.
January 20, 2015
Weezy releases the mixtape Sorry For The Wait 2 which contains multiple Cash Money disses including this one on the song “Sh*t (Remix)” “Did my time at Cash Money, time served and released / But this agent ain’t free, word, that’s the word on these streets.”
April 26, 2015
Weezy’s tour bus gets shot up in Atlanta. Though he denies any involvement, Birdman, as well as Young Thug are named as associates of the shooter Jimmy Carlton Winfrey. Winfrey ultimately pleads guilty to the incident as is sentence to 20 years in prison.
July 4, 2015
Wayne puts out his eleventh studio album, Free Weezy Album as a Tidal-only release.
July 11, 2015
Birdman allegedly throws his drink at Wayne while the latter is performing onstage at a club in Miami.
January 18, 2016
Wayne and Birdman reunited at a Miami nightclub and seem to put their beef behind them. “This my motherf*ckin’ son and I’ma die for him, Ima live for him, and I’ll motherf*ckin kill for him,” Baby said while standing next to Weezy. “That ain’t gonna never change, n—- It’s YMCMB for life, and we gonna live this sh*t.” Talks of a settlement in the lawsuit begin shortly thereafter
March 4, 2016
Wayne links up with 2 Chainz for a joint project titled ColleGrove that’s released under 2 Chainz’s moniker alone.
May 21, 2016
Any semblance of a hope for a settlement in the legal proceedings is erased when Wayne mounts the stage for a show in Colorado and shouts “F*ck the bullsh*t! F*ck Cash Money!”
September 3, 2016
Wayne hints on Twitter that he’s over the entire thing and is thinking about stepping away from the game entirely. “I AM NOW DEFENSELESS AND mentally DEFEATED & I leave gracefully and thankful I luh my fanz but I’m dun.”
September 3, 2016
Chance The Rapper offers some much needed words of encouragement. “Tell them devils back back.”
September 9, 2016
Kendrick Lamar steps in on the world’s behalf and implores Weezy to not give up. “Talking about retiring and sh*t. F*ck that.”
September 9, 2016
Wayne released the song “Grateful” on Tidal where he raps, “I won’t see Stunna write checks to me / They can’t put no more Weezy Baby out / That’s that Cash Money vasectomy.”
November 26, 2016
Lil Wayne drops another mixtape No Ceilings 2.
December 23, 2016
In a shocking twist, pharma-bro Martin Shkreli reveals that he’s somehow managed to purchase a copy of Tha Carter V after already scooping up the infamous Wu-Tang Clan album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin back in 2015. True to form, he reveals during a live stream that, “I never liked rap music, I just love to collect it.”
January 6, 2017
Birdman appears on Travis Scott’s Beats 1 radio show .wav and promises that the album is coming out. “The situation with me and my son, I’m going to put it all behind us and just let it move forward. Wayne is one of the best artists ever to do the game, and I want to see him continue to do what he been doing, and I’m going to support whatever he’s doing.”
January 7, 2017
Lil Wayne says Birdman is “full of sh*t,” and that Tha Carter V won’t come out until he gets paid.
April 29, 2017
During a stop on his Kloser 2 U tour in Dallas, Wayne once again reiterates the album is coming, disses his label, and alludes to the idea that he’s signing with Roc Nation. “C5 coming soon. F*ck Cash Money. It’s the Roc.”
May 2, 2017
Martin Shkreli shares two songs supposedly from Tha Carter V titled “The Life of Carter,” and “Mona Lisa.” He describes the latter track, which gets a feature from Kendrick Lamar, as “The best song on the damn thing.”
So how does this eventually shake out? The best-case scenario is that Weezy’s people work out a deal with Birdman’s people, give him the rights to the album so that he can finally share it with the fans. The odds of that happening however, seem very grim. The worst case scenario is that Birdman holds onto the album, continues to drain his own and Wayne’s assets in court until Weezy blinks and starts working for him again, and Tha Carter V gets shelved entirely. The most likely outcome appears to be that both sides eventually work a deal of some kind, Weezy gets his freedom, loses some of the rights to his material, and Birdman puts out the Tha Carter V while reaping all the proceeds for himself.
The only thing we know at this point is that the saga of Tha Carter V is a long way from being over.