Lil Wayne – Tha Carter IV | Album Review

Releasing music at an astounding rate Dwayne Carter, better known as Lil Wayne, has achieved renowned worldwide success; even mentioned by American President Barack Obama himself. Prior to his incarceration in Rikers Island on March 2010, Weezy F was undoubtedly at the top of his game. Having released Tha Carter III (which sold more than a million copies in its first week), spawned Drake and Nicki Minaj and even dabbled in a little bit of rock with his album Rebirth, it seemed Weezy was set to (or had already) taken over the world.

It was with very, very high expectations therefore that the world awaited his release from Rikers Island in November of 2010. But when sell-out after sell-out track made their way from the interwebs into our over-excited ears, disappointment began to settle, and an ominous feeling… Has Lil Wayne lost it? Where is his sizzurp at? And like Popeye and his spinach, does he really need it to be able to perform at the level we have come to expect from him? Carter IV however, as his first studio album since his release, is what the Young Money rhymer will be judged on. And in a nutshell, it is good, but the question is, how good?

Listen carefully to the words behind the tone and gritty voice and undoubtedly you will be impressed. Packed with the usual witty punchlines and stacked metaphors that are customary of Lil Wayne – the likes of “all hail Weezy, call it bad weather,” to name just one – he welcomes himself back to the outside world with many a quotable.

Perhaps what we were hoping for was some sort of progression, emotional insight, or perhaps what he had learned during his months of incarceration. Frustratingly, it seems Drake has more to say on the matter than Weezy himself, spitting angry bars on ‘It’s Good’ while Wayne prefers to take (weak) shots at Jay Z.

And although we do get (more than the usual) glimpses into Weezy F with lines like “I try to slow down and I get rear-ended” and “sleeping at the top, nightmares of the bottom,” the majority of his lyrics on Tha Carter IV are more of the same; tales of bitches, money and being the best. Even he sounds tired of coming up with different metaphors for the same things. And whether or not that is all he relates to, it’s disappointing that with the ability he has to make pictures out of words, that’s generally all he applies it to – with the exceptions of his anti-war rant on ‘President Carter,’ his ode to oneself on ‘How To Love’ and ‘Nightmares Of The Bottom.’

That’s not to say that the tracks themselves are not good, however. Having already released insanely catchy tracks the likes of ‘6 Foot 7 Foot’, ‘John,’ ‘She Will’ and ‘How To Love,’ listening to the album leaves you with a sort of dismay… Almost like watching a movie when most of the best extracts were already shown in the advertising trailer.

That’s not to say that the other tracks are not good, or catchy. In particular ‘How To Hate,’ which features T-Pain, is bound to end up on the replay list quite a few times but it feels like the album as a whole is unlikely to be reminiscent of Carter III or his No Ceilings mixtape, which had that feeling of instant gratification and you wanted to just keep rewinding.

The tracks seem stuck in a vortex of a Lil Wayne past; of a time when he really was the greatest rapper alive. Borrowing flows, and oftentimes even whole lines from previous hits, as well as reworking tracks (‘Abortion’ is a rework of a leaked track from 2009), the sloppy, on-the-go, rough edged approach that used to work so well for Weezy just falls short here.

But with the level of expectation surrounding the post-incarceration Dwayne it would have taken nothing short of a miracle, or Wayne himself appearing out of your computer screen and into your living room, to satisfy the unquenchable thirst. Sometimes it appears you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

Lil Wayne – Tha Carter IV
Released: August 29, 2011
Label: Cash Money/Universal
Buy: iTunes UK / iTunes US / Amazon UK / Amazon US

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