Lil Wayne – Tha Carter V (Album Review)
Ladies and gentlemen, Tha Carter V is finally here! It has been seven years since Tha Carter IV released, and quite frankly, I was a bit disappointed with that album. It didn’t quite have the commercial hits that Tha Carter III had, and it sorta lacked the grittiness/hunger that both Carter I and Carter II had. Overall, it seemed like a rushed effort, which is why it remains one of Weezy’s weakest works to-date. Here’s the good news: Today is a new day, and if I were to guess, the newest version of The Carter will learn from its mistakes and live up to the potential that we’ve thrust upon it since it was first delayed in 2012. In other words, I have faith that one of the greatest rappers alive (Yea, I said it) will redeem himself here, and if not, I’ll make Carter VI my damn self!
HONORABLE MENTION. MONA LISA
Kendrick Lamar and Lil Wayne are two rappers that are more than capable of losing their s**t when they rap, and on this song, they do just that with a slice of cheese in the middle.
“Mona Lisa” is a story about gangstas and innocent bystanders, with Wayne playing the former and Lamar playing the latter. Wayne opens things up with a lengthy verse, and on it, he talks about having chicks that are ready to finesse and ultimately rob n***as that do too much in the clubs. Throughout his raps, he outlines his schemes and talks about how ruthless the women he has in his arsenal are despite their appearances. It may feel like Wayne is rambling at times, but if you play close attention, he’s actually saying some pretty intriguing s**t.
As I stated earlier, Kendrick sorta plays the innocent bystander on this song. His character happens to have a girl that’s f**king with Wayne, and when he finds out, he practically becomes suicidal. As expected, his part is highly animated, but his bars never suffer.
This is not the most enjoyable song, but it’s definitely the most riveting.
5. LET IT ALL WORK OUT
“Let It All Work Out” reminds me of one of those tracks on a Drake album in which he gets a chance to vent over an emotional instrumental (ie. Do Not Disturb). Well this isn’t Drake, it’s Lil Wayne, and on his version, he gets a chance to talk about some of his deepest topics such as his childhood suicide attempt, his unbreakable pride, and the determination he has to never let life make him feel overwhelmed again. Interestingly enough, I feel like he has this pep to his step for about 95% of the song, as he hurls out his bars in this semi-joyous tone.
In a world where the suicide rate is sky-rocketing, it’s nice to hear a story from someone who was inches away from adding to that statistic. It speaks on his will to live, and sometimes stories like these can drive someone who’s close to the edge back into a safer zone.
4. LET IT FLY
A Travis Scott and Lil Wayne collaboration shouldn’t even be allowed by law.
Halloween is about a month away, and with “Let It Fly,” we may have a scary banger that we can bump when we decide to go to one of those sketchy costume parties. The track features Travis Scott, and for about half of it, he takes it over by giving us a hook and verse that is heavy on the melodic side, reckless lyrically and spooky when it comes to special effects. In my opinion, he sets the mood phenomenally, allowing for Wayne to simply lay his verse down and go home.
You and I knew that Wayne would go ham on this joint the moment the beat dropped, right? On his verse, he loses his s**t, using the same syllable throughout while sounding like a possessed n***a that just had a couple of shots of human brains during the pre-game festivities delivery-wise. I love how he shifts from trying to sound cool to wanting to kill n***as throughout, hitting us with both playful and ghoulish bars.
How dope would a collaboration album between Wayne and Travis be? I’ll take off work if it ever happens.
3. CAN’T BE BROKEN
“Can’t Be Broken” is deep, but it doesn’t try hard to be deep like some of the other tracks you heard on this project.
With so much f**ked up s**t happening to Wayne in the last ten years, it’s nice to hear a song like “Can’t Be Broken” in which he describes his inability to be broken. Throughout, I think you get some authentic emotion from him, as he gets a chance to address the frustration he went through these last couple of years and how he overcame them. I love how the song has this soulful feel on the hook, yet this strong and sturdy sound on both the instrumental and Wayne’s raps. It lets me know that his mental is in a good place, something that bolds well for those anticipating Carter VI.
Something about a resilient song gets to me every time.
2. DON’T CRY
After a very emotional intro in which Lil Wayne’s mother talks about how much she appreciates him, we are treated to this deep ass record called “Don’t Cry.” On it, the late XXXTENTACION blesses us with this soulful hook in which he begs his loved ones to not cry over him (How f**kin’ sad is that). From there, Wayne gets a chance to let the world know how lost and misled he has been these last couple of years, even speaking on his hypothetical death at times (GULP). Thankfully, by his second verse, the New Orleans product shows some positivity, as he gets a chance to talk about giving rap his all again and how he never gave up when things got dark.
Honestly, this was the perfect way to open up this album.
1. DARK SIDE OF THE MOON
Is this a Weezy or Maxwell album I’m listening to right now?
I’ve always loved when Wayne got a chance to do some singing in the past. No, he doesn’t have the greatest voice in the world, but I think he keeps things exciting by giving us something pretty infectious whenever he gets the chance to. In “Dark Side Of The Moon,” you get his most daring R&B effort yet, as he navigates through this heavenly instrumental harmonizing his ass off. Content-wise, he drops some bizarre words about meeting his wifey on another planet, letting the world see just how vast his imagination can be when it comes to talking about falling in love.
Nicki Minaj is featured on this song, and in my opinion, she also gives us one of her best R&B efforts to-date. On her verse, she blesses us with a myriad of vocal notes, reaching them rather astutely. Her writing is also on point, as she sings about being worthy for a love that’s out of this universe regardless of what Cardi B’s shoe thinks. I can honestly say I rolled my eyes when her part started, and by the end, my eyes gave her a standing ovation! (Yes, my eyes are able to give standing ovations).
This song is absolutely beautiful! If we can somehow replace Wayne and Nicki Minaj with Khalid and H.E.R., I will like it even more.
SONG BY SONG BREAKDOWN
1. I LOVE YOU DWAYNE (N/A)
2. DON’T CRY (5/5)
3. DEDICATE (4.5/5)
4. UPROAR (4/5)
5. LET IT FLY (5/5)
6. CAN’T BE BROKEN (5/5)
7. DARK SIDE OF THE MOON (5/5)
8. MONA LISA (4.5/5)
9. WHAT ABOUT ME (4/5)
10. OPEN LETTER (4/5)
11. FAMOUS (4/5)
12. PROBLEMS (4/5)
13. DOPE N***AZ (3.5/5)
14. HITTAS (5/5)
15. TOOK HIS TIME (4.5/5)
16. OPEN SAFE (4/5)
17. START THE S**T OFF RIGHT (4/5)
18. DEMON (3.5/5)
19. MESS (2.5/5)
20. DOPE NEW GOSPEL (3/5)
21. PERFECT STRANGERS (3/5)
22. USED 2 (3/5)
23. LET IT ALL WORK OUT (5/5)
Now that we’ve gotten a chance to listen to the most anticipated album since Thriller, we can now focus on other things in our lives like our bills or children.
I didn’t know what to expect on this album, and ironically, I think we got the unexpected! The Carter V had everything from Gospel sounding records to street anthems. You also got tracks in which Wayne got a chance to flex his vocal skills, open up about some pretty touchy topics, and unfortunately, fit in with the rest of the rappers in the game. For the most part, lyrically, he was decent enough to enjoy, but in my opinion, it is evident that he has diminished in skills just a tad bit. His punchlines, wordplay and unique deliveries simply didn’t catch my attention like it used to on this project, and that is either because I over-indulged on his music back in the day or that hip hop has evolved. (If I were to guess, it’s the latter)
One of my main beefs with Wayne in the past was that he didn’t talk about serious topics enough, and all that changed with this album. Throughout it, our Louisiana-born hero talks about some real life s**t (His highs and lows, ups and downs, love and heartbreak, and dark/traumatic experiences), finally convincing listeners that he’s lived on the same planet as us all along. At times, the music on this album will definitely tug at your heart. Well done, Wayne!
Though there are some tear-jerkers on Carter V, there are also some club hits. “Open Safe” is the ultimate strip club anthem, as it features your typical DJ Mustard beat that contains some heavy bass and a random n***a snappin’ his ass off in the background. “Uproar,” another club banger, is highly energetic, and both “Took His Time” and “Hittas” were very enjoyable passionate bangers. Fans may not gloss over these tracks, but when played in the right atmosphere, I think they will catch your attention.
Unfortunately, at times, I feel like Wayne tried to force things. Some of his hooks, flows, melodies and topics sounded way too predictable, which might very well be because some of the material we were listening to was outdated. He’s no Drake when it comes to the R&B side of things, and on certain songs like “What About Me” and “Mess,” it seemed like he tried to be that just a little too much. I like when his R&B powers came natural like on “Dark Side Of The Moon,” but hey, you can’t hate on the man for trying.
The features on this album were a bit shaky… For some reason, Wayne thought it was a good idea to put Ashanti and Mack Maine on a contemporary rap track (Though I like that song for Wayne’s contributions), Sosamann on a f**kin’ slow jam, and his daughter on a somewhat corny pop joint (I love you Reginae!). However, I did like XXXTENTACION, Kendrick Lamar and Travis Scott’s guest features, as they were able to make their respective songs truly come alive with their bone-chilling contributions. Other than that, I simply wasn’t floored with any other guests on this album.
I was once one of those guys that thought Lil Wayne could do no wrong, but in these last couple of years, his music simply hasn’t moved me. With that being said, I applaud Wayne’s effort on The Carter V. You can tell he experimented with several different sounds, even stepping outside of his comfort zone at times. I thought he put his blood, sweat and tears into the music he made here, however, the outcome was only above average at best to me. I’ll continue to anticipate his music, but this album tells me that the rap torch he once held for many years is nowhere near his possession.
Here’s the current rankings of Tha Carters’: Carter III > Carter II > Carter I> Carter V> Carter IV. Hold up, are we also counting Barter 6 by Young Thug?
I WOULD LOVE TO KNOW WHAT YOUR TOP 5 SONGS ARE ON THIS ALBUM! FEEL FREE TO LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS SECTION!
Quincy is the creator of Ratings Game Music. He loves writing about music, taking long walks on beaches, and spaghetti that fights him back.
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