Hailed as the "most anticipated release of 2007", Lil Wayne's first full album since Tha Carter II in 2005 saw such an unprecedented leak rate that it got pushed back for a 2008 release and has since sold more than a million copies in it's first week. All this acclaim and expectation could spell the demise of a hip hop act such as Wayne but Tha Carter III is a piece of work that more than lives up to its hype and sees this truly unique MC occupying even weirder and bolder territory than ever.
On one of the stand out tracks, Dr. Carter, Wayne assumes the role of doctor and the patient is hip hop. Various symptoms present themselves at the start like lack of confidence, bad concepts, weak flow and no style and by the end he claims to have "saved hip hop." This arrogance is justified as he takes us step by step through just why he is more than qualified to be the self proclaimed saviour. And hip hop has never sounded healthier than on Carter III.
With his grizzly delivery and slow, erratic flow Lil Wayne fills every album with an overflowing quantity of ideas. He has experimented so much with his voice and can swing from a deep menacing growl (Phone Home) to weazle-like ragga-monotone rapid fire (A Milli). Each track demonstrates his lyrical prowess as he changes subject faster than a cornered politician. The production is tight with multi layered beats and deep soulful melodies. There is some great samples, most notably the David Axelrod melody on Dr. Carter and Nina Simone on the overlong Don't Get It. Wayne seems so at ease with the music, as he takes his time delivering vivid metaphors it's as if the beats have to keep up with him. Let The Beat Build demonstrates hip hop's unique freedom to allow songs that are about nothing but hip hop itself. The song is centered around Wayne's grasp of beat timing and that's about it, but it works tremendously. Mid-way through the song everything goes quiet until Wayne whispers, "As I hit the kill switch / Now that's how you let the beat build bitch." Songs like Shoot Me Down show the MC soul-searching with dark, brooding atmospherics that build to his end statement "watch me soar, where the fuck is my guitar?" and a screeching chord brings the whole thing to a close. It's followed by it's antithesis, Lollipop. The first official single, this is a made-for-radio song that is centered round a shameless confectionary-based sexual innuendo. It's good but it's nothing 50 Cent didn't already tell us in Candy Shop.
Lollipop, while a solid tune, does contain elements of where this album, for me, strays from its focus and that'll be in its R n B tendencies. I rarely venture into mainstream hip hop such as this, for this very reason. Hip hop is the biggest selling genre in the US and can't do too bad over here either, but I can't help feeling that this statistic comes about largely due to the genre boundaries being heavily blurred and when hip hop strays into RnB territory the market expands. R Kelly isn't hip hop and Kanye West isn't RnB. Songs like Got Money and Comfortable seem to dilute this MC's dazzling writing skills not to mention Mrs Officer, a song who's principle theme is a female cop sexual fantasy.
So that's the bitching out the way and now down to business. This guy can turn a phrase better than most and that's the sole reason to listen to this album. Unlike many of his contemporaries Wayne doesn't lace every rhyme with the same concepts and themes and so in that respect he is hard to pin down. He isn't a thug rapper, a smut rapper or an indie-poet, he's all that and more. He covers many topics with impressive eloquence. Here's a few.
Excretion: You're like a bitch with no ass, you aint got shit. (A Milli)
Grammar: "I don't owe you like two vowels." (A Milli)
Will Smith movies: "I got so many bitches like I was Mike Lowry."(A Milli)
Ailments: "I Got Swagger tighter than a yeast infection" (Dr Carter)
Cooking: "Don't I treat you like soufflé?" ( Comfortable)
Confectionary: "So I let her lick the (w)rapper" - (Lollipop)
French: "I'm all about oui like Paris / Hilton presidential suite already." (La La)
Finance: "You better pay me cos you don't want my problems / I'll be wiling like Capital One, what is in your wallet" (You Aint Got Nuthin.)