For the last three calendars Lil Wayne has dominated the mixtape circuit and seemingly bodied countless guest appearances on his way to the streets crowning him king. Now with two years since his last studio release, a couple of arrests, concerns of continued abuse of prescription cough syrup, and most recently his disdain for mixtape DJs, Tha Carter III (Cash Money) is finally here. While the most anticipated disc of the year is another solid addition to the Hollygrove Hot Boys catalog, it falls short of all its titanic expectations.
Wayne makes it clear that his sights are on scoring the Rap album trifecta on 3 Peat. While you get a couple of hot lines, as an opener it doesnt do much to set the mood for the disc. Things do pick up with Mr. Carter. Weezy connects with Jay-Z as both subtly flow over a soundscape full of light keys and airy horns. Anchored by a sped up soul sample crooning their shared surnames, Hov implements a bit of Young Moneys signature broken flow to appropriately pass on the torch.
Those looking for Wayne in beast mode can look no further than A Milli. Weezy blacks out over chant driven production provided by Bangladesh. He not only rides the beat but parallel parks on the track with exceptional delivery.
Phone Home finds Wayne tapping into his newfound extraterrestrial persona. Annoying chorus aside, Weezy F. still delivers some nasty verses: We are not the same, I am an Alien / like Gonzalez / Young college / Student who done just flipped the game like Houston / Im used ta / Promethazine and two cups / Im screwed up.
On the flipside Lollipop serves as a proper first single with its catchy hook and synthy bleeps. But an attempt at extending that magic with Get Money doesnt fair as well though; as both Wayne and T-Pain get careless with that wretched auto-tune effect over a jarring Play-N-Skillz backdrop. Additionally Comfortable misses the mark with its softer vibes and paper thin crooning courtesy of Babyface.
What separates this Carter installment from its predecessors is a heavier focus on artistic direction and varying subject matter. Wayne assumes the role of a swag surgeon on Dr. Carter. Wayne wittingly diagnoses three patients over minimal sounds surprisingly provided by Swizz Beatz.
He also digs deeper on the inspirational Tie My Hands. The words of motivation coupled with Robin Thickes smooth vocals make this a winner. The culmination of this outside the box creativity is Shoot Me Down. Weezy comes through with his heaviest bars set against a slow dark guitar.
Real talk Tha Carter III is a respectable effort. But with all of the incessant chatter of being the best, this disc should have been damn near perfect. Wayne went hard but not hard enough. Dwayne Carter's induction into legend status will just have to wait a tad.
Lil Wayne Featuring Static Major