Music Feature

Album Review: Lil Wayne- Tha Carter IV

by Esau Howard
The saga continues, but at what cost?

It’s been 3 years, 2 mixtapes, 1 rock album, 1 EP turned album filled with studio left overs, and 1 prison stint since the last installment of Lil Wayne’s “Carter” series. Though the facts show that Lil  Wayne has been quite active in the 3 year span, it doesn’t ignore the fact that Tha Carter IV has been missing from this catalogue. The signature album series that has turned Wayne from hood favorite to international star. This album is by all means an event in music, and after 3 years of giving his fans everything else, he finally brings them the fourth installment that they’ve all been waiting for.

In typical fashion, he starts the album off with a  high energy “Intro” which sets the tone for the rest of the album. Wayne certainly shows that he hasn’t lost a step since his release from prison last year, as he packs the song with plenty of clever punch lines and metaphors. Listeners should familiarize themselves with the beat, as it’s used on two more occasions for the “Interlude”, and “Outro”. Despite what the titles may imply, both of these tracks make a case for the best on the album. The most interesting part about that is Wayne doesn’t even appear on either track, but allows a star studded line up to take his place. With Tech N9ne and Andre 3000 of Outkast handling vocal duties on the Interlude, Bun B, Nas, Shyne, and Busta Rhymes round out the album’s Outro with a posse cut that deserved a much more fitting track name.

These songs show a sense of humility rarely shown by Hip Hop artists. Wayne doesn’t just defer to his peers, but excluding himself from the tracks altogether proves that he doesn’t mind sharing the spotlight. Of course with that said, Wayne is still the man of the hour and it’s his voice that we’ve all come to hear. 

The singles, “6 Foot 7 Foot”, “John”, and  “How To Love”, have all made their rounds on radio at this point.  As the first initial offerings the public heard from the album, each served a  purpose. The first showing that lyrically Wayne is still among the best rappers out today. The second that he isn’t above current trends in music, as he  flips the opening track off Rick Ross’s 2010 Teflon Don album, and makes it his own. He even brought in Ross himself to validate the track with a verse. The third of these songs however, is a far cry from the first two singles. If nothing else it showed that we didn’t really know what to expect with this album, as it has Weezy crooning a rap ballad on love. It’s a hit on radio, but certainly not his best work. A well written song that should have been sung by anyone besides Lil Wayne.

Yes, this album certainly has it’s missteps. Despite having top notch production, many of these songs lack any real focus. In fact most times Weezy just spends several minutes rapping all over the place, and in the past that’s worked for him, but here it comes off more lazy than anything else. “President Carter” had potential to be the best song on the album, but Weezy falls short with his redundant watered down lines even on this. 

It’s obvious that he has many friends in the music industry, but to often Wayne gets overshadowed by his guests here. The scene stealing chorus by Drake on “She Will”,  and the auto tuned vocals of T-Pain on “How To Hate” all make you forget Wayne’s place on the song. Of course one song that not even Drake or Jadakiss could take attention away from, is the controversial “It’s Good”. This is the song where Wayne takes a chance to get a few jabs in at fellow rapper Jay-Z. The diss will be the memorable part of the song, but Weezy certainly provided a solid verse regardless on this one.

Blunt Blowin”, and “Abortion” also suffer from from lack of direction, but still serve as vintage Wayne songs you can’t help but enjoy. Catchy choruses over hard knocking production will leave most satisfied with instant replay value.

In the end, Tha Carter IV won’t serve as the definitive album in this series. At times it shows moments of greatness, only to be followed with mediocrity. It’s lack of concept records is disappointing, as Weezy had the chance to truly get introspective following his release from prison. At this point in his career he has absolutely nothing to prove, which makes it frustrating when you know he’s capable of far better work. The diehards will embrace this regardless, and even newer listeners will find something to enjoy on here. Yet for those that have always been on the fence about Wayne, their opinions probably won’t change much. It’s not quite the event that the world of music has been anticipating, but for better or worse it adds to the legacy of one of Hip Hop’s most popular stars to date.

Final Rating: 3.5/5

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