Tha Carter IV by Lil Wayne [Deluxe Edition]
(5 Epinions reviews)
Epinions Product Rating:
Lil Wayne hangs from the edge of his own rollercoaster: 'The Carter IV'
Sep 9, 2011 (Updated Sep 14, 2011)
Review by Paul McCann
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Superb, ultra consistent production. Mostly stellar guests. Wayne's demented rapping does shine in places...
Cons:but too often Wayne's rapping does not shine. T-Pain. Autotune.
The Bottom Line: Lil Wayne is generally a polarising emcee, but "The Carter IV" lands in good but not great middle ground. The saga of the world's best selling rapper continues.
Hype is a strange thing.
Recommend this product?
As my boy Big D pointed out, the ‘hype’ that has surrounded Lil Wayne’s fourth solo album, “The Carter IV”, has been strangely muted. This is strange for the self-proclaimed ‘best rapper alive’: especially when compared to the unparalleled out of this world hype for the preceding, ultimately average ‘The Carter III’. In 2011, Lil Wayne is back, to try and prove once more that not only is he the best selling rapper out there, but that he’s also the best.
Right off the bat 'The Carter IV' hits you with four pounding, pulsating, pulverising STATEMENT lyrical performances from Lil Wayne. His rhymes are off the wall irreverence, utilising cute wordplay and f*ck you humour – in a similar vein to Kool Keith or Ghostface Killah - delivered in a drawled, wheezy (there’s that inescapable word) style. “Blunt Blowing” and “Megaman” are superb and compelling examples of why Wayne can be a damn good MC, with a stream of nonstop, charismatic trash talking - just like on the crescendo of lead single “6 Foot 7 Foot”, with the hyped up MC upping his flow to rapid fire levels: “Talkin to myself because I am my own consultant | Married to the money, f**k the world, that's adultery”. Wayne has manic energy on this track and is undoubtedly the star of the show, achieving the questionable feat of owning mediocre guest rapper Cory Gunz. But this proves little, for while Lil Wayne’s self-promotion tag line is ‘the best rapper alive’, the reality is that the certified L he took from Eminem on “No Love” exposed his level of talent. His best is merely good. This hypothesis is easily proved: just contrast his verses on ‘6 Foot 7 Foot’ or “Intro” with Nas, Busta Rhymes & Bun B absolutely TEARING APART their lengthy verses on “Outro”. Or check out Tech N9ne and Andre 3000 setting him an unobtainable standard on “Interlude” (both cats kill it). The gulf in class is as wide as the Grand Canyon, and maybe it's a sign of Wayne's ego getting insanely out of control, thinking he can hang with Nas, Andre 3000, Bussa Bus. This is hip hop's A List after all.
Furthermore, maddening, infuriating INCONSISTENCY is Lil Wayne’s Achilles heel. Several songs on ‘The Carter IV’ do not reach their full potential. "Nightmares Of The Bottom" has genuinely creative, introspective lyrics, but Wayne puts me to sleep with a slow, LETHARGIC delivery; this scenario plays out again on “President Carter”. Both songs could have been career highlights. “Its Good” has extremely sloppy, lazy rhymes from the rapper, while guests Jadakiss and Drake fare no better. And “How To Hate” enters auto-skip territory by drowning in unrelenting autotune overkill from T-Pain and damn near spoken word from the rapper. This is the pattern for too much of ‘The Carter IV’ - unfinished rapping – and when Weezy's subject matter is eight times out of ten irreverent brag rap (and it can be repetitive – he plays on the word ‘b*tch’ in nearly ever verse), you need to excel more than he actually does.
Luckily for Lil Wayne, there’s invariably a yin to his yang. “Life is a rollercoaster”, he exclaims on “Abortion”, and this sums up ‘The Carter IV’ (just like it did with Carter III). While his fourth studio album has production credits a bit like his rhymes (all over the place), it doesn’t matter, for there’s NOT ONE bad beat here. “Blunt Blowing”, has superhero epic synths blasting through it courtesy of Develop & Filthy, and “Megaman”, has an insane spaced out horror vibeconcocted by... well, Megaman. They suit Weezy’s style perfectly – like the Rick Ross-featuring, Polow Da Don/J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League produced second single “John” does, with its furious synths and wild sound effects. And although “6 Foot 7 Foot” is a Bangladesh-laced straight jack of another huge Wayne single, “A Milli”, with its repeating looped vocal chant placed as the beat’s centrepiece, it WORKS. Cool & Dre’s blaring horns, synths and trumpets illuminate the stunning vocals of John Legend on “So Special” and T-Minus crafts a really beautifully eerie soundtrack of violins and tinkling keys on the quietly ominous “She Will”. Wayne’s charismatic rhymes on the latter track take a nicely dark, apocalyptic edge: “I'm in Hell's Kitchen with an apron and a hairnet | Devil on my shoulder, The Lord is my witness". And it's a fun game to contrast this song with the ENDEARING “How To Love”, which is a complete flip reverse to almost everything else on ‘The Carter IV’. The Detail/Drum Up partnership strikes with a gorgeous blend of acoustic guitars and stirring strings, and Wayne delivers a beautiful vocal performance, somersaulting neatly between harmonising and rapping, demonstrating that when he wants to reduce the tempo, he CAN. Finally, if you pick up the Deluxe Edition of 'The Carter IV', like I did, you'll hear three solid bonus cuts, the best of which is the superb, poignant, introspective Bruno Mars-featuring "Mirror". This track should have made the final 16.
Lil Wayne is not a bestselling rapper (what, over a million units sold for 'The Carter IV' already?) for nothing. He has swagger, personality and some of the best beat selection in the 2011 rap game. But he is also a strange rapper, able to flip from the sublime to the ridiculous and back again (just ask Wayne himself: "so misunderstood but what's the world without enigma?"). Thus, 'The Carter IV' falls short of being a very good rap album because of the ultimately seesaw nature of the man at its heart. Nonetheless, this is largely a successful release from Lil Wayne, a sales goliath of modern hip hop... if not its best protagonist.
3.5/5 (rounded down to 3)
1. Intro (***)
2. Blunt Blowin' (****)
3. Megaman (****)
4. 6 Foot 7 Foot [feat Cory Gunz] (*****)
5. Nightmares of the Bottom (***)
6. She Will [feat Drake] (****)
7. How To Hate [feat T-Pain] (**)
8. Interlude [feat Tech N9ne & Andre 3000] (****)
9. John [feat Rick Ross] (****)
10. Abortion (****)
11. So Special (****)
12. How to Love (*****)
13. President Carter (***)
14. It's Good [feat Jadakiss & Drake] (***)
15. Outro [feat Bun B, Nas, Shyne & Busta Rhymes] (*****)
Deluxe Edition bonus tracks:
16. I Like The View (****)
17. Mirror [feat Bruno Mars] ( **** ½)
18. Two Shots (***)
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Tha Carter IV (Explicit) (Deluxe Edition)
Recording information: Effigy Studio's, Detroit, MI; Record Room Studios, Miami, FL; YM/CM Studio's, Miami, FL.Photographer: Jonathan Mannion.
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