Posted by Lindsay Carolla on 09/07 at 12:36 PM
Lil Wayne’s ninth studio album Tha Carter IV (and it’s exclusive counterpart Tha Carter IV: Deluxe Edition that includes a few extra songs) dropped on August 29, 2011 and was met with much criticism. Too much criticism, if you ask me (some of the haters include Reuters and The Washington Post).
The problem lies within the pre-release hype, which can be seen regularly in the hip-hop genre. The higher the anticipation in such a competitive market, the farther an album can fall. Lil Wayne and his associates decided it would be brilliant to release what they knew where the strongest songs of the album as singles before the whole album actually dropped. What ever happened to the good old days when only one single was presented early to kiss the airwaves and promote the album leaving us yearning for more? The rest of the songs on the album are just fine. They employ Wayne’s definitive clever lyricism, confidence, and unique perspective. After all, there is a reason, as an artist, he is larger than life. Had Weezy simply released only one single at a reasonable time before the album drop date, critics might have been much more impressed.
But he didn’t. Tha Carter IV’s first single “6 Foot 7 Foot” was released all the way back on December 16, 2010. It featured Cory Gunz and a newly freed from prison Weezy trying to recover his self-proclaimed title of “best rapper alive.” The single erupted on the hip-hop scene. It was celebrated for its high tempo and lyrical prowess, which left us yearning for more. However, in early June, Lil Wayne’s label, Universal Motown Republic Group, pushed back the original release date of July 20 to August 29, 2011.
To soften the blow, Lil Wayne supplied us with two more singles off the album. First came “John (If I Die Today)” on March 24, 2011. The song was named for it’s nod to John Lennon and featured the leader of the Maybach Music Group, Rick Ross. The hook and other verses from Ross’s own song “I’m Not a Star” from his album Teflon Don released July 20, 2010 are used in “John (If I Die Today)” as a sort of extraterrestrial-themed remix. The compilation song at the time of its release served to promote both party’s upcoming LPs. Then on May 31, 2011, a third single “How to Love” became available and quickly ignited the airwaves. It peaked at #5 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Lil Wayne performed both of these singles as the finale performance on MTV’s 2011 Video Music Awards on August 28, 2011. The incessant censorship “bleep” noise that could be heard during the performance demonstrated why “How to Love”—an easy R&B borderline pop song for the girls that’s not indicative of Lil Wayne’s edgier street persona—climbed the charts higher than the lyrically superior “John (If I Die Today)” that features the hip-hop heavyweight Rick Ross (no pun intended) and much profanity.
Though Lil Wayne and his label had plans to release the album through digital download following the performance, Tha Carter IV leaked song by song on Wednesday August 24, 2011, just five days before its official drop date. “It’s Good” featuring Jadakiss and Drake made the most noise, but not because of the talent. All three artists did a stellar job over an unstoppable beat that you can really nod your head to. However, the skill was overshadowed by a single rhyme directed at Jay-Z. Lil Wayne raps, “Talkin’ ‘bout baby money? I got your baby money/Kidnap your b****, get that ‘how much you love your lady money” in response to the lyrics, “I’m like really half a billi n****/really you got baby money/keep it real with n****s/N****s ain’t got my lady money,” spit by Jay-Z on “H*A*M” from his latest album Watch the Throne, a compilation project with Kanye West.
After all the drama associated with Tha Carter IV, it’s not a surprise that it wasn’t an instant hit. Lil Wayne knew which songs on the album were the best and made the mistake of releasing them too early. Had “6 Foot 7 Foot,” “John (If I Die Today),” and “It’s Good” with its lyrical assault on Jay-Z been released as a whole with the album, fans would have been white-knuckle gripping their steering wheels with album playing uninterrupted over the speakers in their cars. Sadly, that wasn’t the case.
Because the roses had been picked out of the bunch, the leftover tracks on the album are being unfairly berated. It’s unreasonably idealistic to think that each and every song on an album is going to be a gem. That is tied up in all kinds of opinion and bias, which maybe reaches a consensus every 30 years; I’m thinking of Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA. If we look at the individual songs for what they are, it’s still classic Wayne with interesting wordplay and twisting similes and metaphors. “Intro” goes hard from the get-go with a steady beat that follows Lil Wayne’s words like directions. He says “a capella” over silence. “Megaman” has the same excited high-pitch that’s found in “6 Foot 7 Foot” with smart phrases and a beat with a lot of bass that’s reminiscent of early [Young] Jeezy. “President Carter” shows a more serious Wayne over a slow piano and samples the 39th American president’s voice as an intro and chorus. Bruno Mars, the pop industry’s latest It kid, sings the chorus in “Mirror”, a particularly poignant expression by Lil Wayne. In addition to Cory Gunz, Rick Ross, Drake, Jadakiss, and Bruno Mars, other talents such as T-Pain, Tech N9ne, John Legend, Bun B, Shyne, Nas, and Busta Rhymes are featured on Tha Carter IV to compile a lengthy roster.
The album may not be the absolute best material we’ve heard from Wayne, but it’s definitely good. Lil Wayne is judged too much for his brand name and the “best rapper alive” declaration, and it puts an extraordinary amount of pressure on his music. The album is significantly superior compared to his Rebirth, an experimental rap-rock mistake, and his mixtape prelude for Tha Carter IV, Sorry 4 the Wait that was meant to satisfy hungry fans after the label pushed back the LP’s drop date. “Nightmares of the Bottom” alone from Tha Carter IV with incredible lyrics like “Now I’m lookin’ in my rearview/I see the world in it/I try to slow down, get rear-ended/Pause like a red light, I’m dead, right?/Highway to Heaven, God, can you see my headlights?” allow us to forget the disturbing image of Lil Wayne with an electric guitar.
You may call him Weezy, Lil Wayne, President Carter, or Tunechi, but please don’t call him or this album overrated. Especially considering that in a recent interview with XXL magazine, he hinted that this might be his last album. Years from now the haters who criticized Tha Carter IV will be somewhere wishing Weezy made more. Did I just rap?
Tha Carter IV is available at Amazon.com:
Author: Lindsay Carolla
Bio: Lindsay Carolla is a senior studying English, and Italian language and literature at the Pennsylvania State University. She is an on-air personality for the Lion 90.7fm on the Jam 91 Show. She finds pleasure in traveling, attending concerts, and literary symbolism. Lindsay has an eclectic taste in music which ranges from her favorite rap artist, Notorious B.I.G., to her favorite indie darling, Modest Mouse. But what she enjoys most is when two unlikely musical genres successfully combine to create a new aesthetic, such as can be found in the band Brokencyde.
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