Tha Carter

Artist: Lil' WayneTitle: Tha CarterRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: DJ L.K. (Low-Key)

"The best rapper alive, since the best rapper retired", that is what Lil Wayne proclaims on his fourth studio album, Tha Carter. While Weezy may not live up to such a bold claim, he certainly provides his best outing yet with his latest offering.

Tha Carter's main strength is in its production as mister consistency, Mannie Fresh, laces the album with his vintage Southern funk. The album's lead single, "Bring It Back", finds Weezy riding Fresh's thumping bassline perfectly. And while lyrically, Wayne stumbles along with lines like, "You freeze up like popsicles, pop up on bicycles, pop y'all like spot pimples", Weezy's syrupy flow and precise wordplay are enough to get him by. On the catchy bounce sounds of "Go DJ", Fresh once again puts on his super hero cape, and provides Wayne with a sure shot hit. The summer time sounds of "This Is The Carter" is another hit in the making, as is "On My Own".

But for every bouncy Southern anthem, Weezy also offers some nice change of pace tracks as well. "BM J.R." is about as dark as you will ever see Wayne get, as he rips into the track with his best lyrical effort on the album. "On the capitol only key to survive is kill, if the elements don't murder you the riders will. For real, and niggas know I go hard to the fullest. get involved and I got 'em playing dodge ball wit bullets". However, on the album’s true gem, "I Miss My Dawgs", Weezy proves he can do much more than duplicate the usual New Orleans street tales. The intimate song finds him addressing his former Hot Boyz, as he strolls down memory lane reminiscing about the good times spent with Juvenile, B.G. & Turk.

While Tha Carter can be considered Lil Wayne's best album to date, it does suffer from some minimal letdowns. The album's twenty-one tracks could have easily been slimmed down to a modest number, as there are a couple of filler tracks. The pairing of father and son on "We Don't", "Get Down" and "Only Way" are all sub par efforts from Baby and Wayne that fail to be as captivating as the album's other songs. Nevertheless, Tha Carter should cement Lil Wayne's place as one of the South's premier emcees. And even though Weezy's visions of grandeur are a bit premature, you cannot blame him for thinking big.