1992 had The Chronic from Dr. Dre, 1993 had Doggystyle from Snoop Dogg, 1994 had Ready To Die from The Notorious B.I.G., 2001 had The Blueprint from Jay-Z, and 2008 had Tha Carter III from Lil’ Wayne. If you didn’t catch that, those were all the most anticipated album releases of the respective years. 2008 isn’t any different as Lil’ Wayne has had the most anticipation for an album release, even surpassing the same day album release battle hype between Kanye West and 50 Cent for their Graduation and Curtis albums last year. You can’t watch TV, listening to the radio, or surf the Internet without hearing about Tha Carter III’s upcoming release in some form or another. As a result of Weezy’s recent comments about mixtape DJs and their need in the rap game, DJ Chuck T decided to leak the official album on the Internet for listeners and fans to download at will. Despite this, I think Wayne will still go on to sell millions and go platinum with this release, regardless of the leak attempt/revenge (Wayne fans are going to download and purchase the album…so it’s pretty much a win/win for Weezy). The hype and anticipation for this album has been well built over a span of 3 years since his previous album release (Tha Carter II) and numerous guest appearances. Does the album live up to the hype though? It is a certified classic or certified collision course…Let’s see Dr. Carter!
Produced by Maestro
The beat provided by Maestro immediately gives this track that “introductory” feel to it, similar to past tracks like “I’m Me” (The Leak EP) or “Tha Mobb” (Tha Carter II). Wayne drops some nice aggressive sounding lyrics on this track, clearly stating his position and making his presence known to listeners. This is the official introduction of Tha Carter III to the public with Wayne stating this is a three-peat like the 90’s Chicago Bulls dynasty. This is a nice way to start off the album and leaves you prepared for the rest to come.
Featuring Jay-Z; Produced by Infamous
Being a huge Jay-Z fan, when I saw this track on the track listing I was excited and anticipated a great track. Upon listening to the track my anticipation was fulfilled as this track starts off great with some very nice subtle production from Infamous. I can remember how excited I was about “Hello Brooklyn 2.0” on Jay-Z’s American Gangster album, and how very disappointed I was with it after hearing the song (the worst song on American Gangster in my opinion). Nonetheless this song makes up a lot for the previous offering from the two and this is how their collaboration should have been the first time. Without a doubt Jay-Z spits some very ill lyrics on this track, but Wayne not to be out done gets down for the crown and stands toe to toe with Hov in terms of lyrics. Glad to hear that this is the fifth single for the album, and I hope they make a great music video for it with Wayne and Jay-Z featured together in it.
Produced by Bangledesh
This is the official second single for the album and it’s a song that has been constantly played on the radio, and I sure that most listeners have heard it plenty of times. Bangledesh is able to cook up an interesting sounding beat for this track that goes well with Wayne “freestyle” sounding delivery. This song is a pretty good one, but has gotten old now and won’t be getting a lot of play from me. I’ve heard it enough on the radio and won’t be listening to it that much in playing the album.
Featuring T-Pain; Produced by Play-n-Skillz
This track is the official third single off the album and it has that club feel to it. Featuring the maestro of Auto Tune on the hook in T-Pain, Wayne spits lyrics that are fitting for a song of this type and they do what they are supposed to do. I’m not really feeling the production from Play-n-Skillz on this track, as it sounds kind of generic especially from the synths that they use. This is an average song in my opinion that will most likely get play in the clubs and radio. This is the first track on the album that I’m not really feeling and will probably skip a lot when playing.
Featuring Babyface; Produced by Kanye West
What!? Babyface on a track with Lil’ Wayne, I never thought I would see the day of that happening. But I ain’t trippin’ cause he truly adds to this track and makes it that much better. The production by Kanye West on this song really sounds like some vintage Kanye beats from his College Dropout days, and that’s the kind of production that he does best (not a lot of this heavy-snyth/techno sounding stuff he has done lately). Wayne sounds very comfortable spittin’ over this track and doesn’t sound out of place at all on this type of track. I can clearly say that this is one of my favorite tracks on the entire album, if not my favorite. This one has been on repeat for a while and is top quality in my opinion.
Produced by Swizz Beatz
Right off the back I must say that Swizz did his thing with the production on this track in sampling David Axelrod’s “Holy Thursday” to near perfection. Wayne delivers a very creative track in the theme/topic of this track in him playing a doctor who is operating on various artists in the industry trying to save them. If you really listen to what he’s saying he’s actually on point with a lot of the statements he’s making about the rap game and music industry. I love the fact that after unsuccessfully saving the first two artists/patients, he is able to save the last one from dying which happens to be “Hip-Hop”. That’s some clever thinking on Wayne’s part to create a song like this that shows his creativity as an artist when a lot of people claim to rarely see them in him. I would enjoy seeing a music video made to this track, it would be some creative shit to watch.
Produced by Cool & Dre
The team of Cool & Dre provides some sci-fi sounding production on this track, which is the point judging by the song title and direct reference to the movie E.T. Wayne is dropping some rhymes on this track explaining how he’s a Martian and not off this world. I can understand where he was trying to go with this track, but unfortunately he missed the mark on this one. The chorus is really poor on this track, especially the person yelling “phone home” throughout it. This track is a skip in my opinion.
Tie My Hands
Featuring Robin Thicke; Produced by Kanye West
Once again Kanye West returns with some nice and smooth music production on this track. Weezy hooks up with Robin Thicke again for another great collaborative effort. This track seems them picking up where they left off with “Shooter”. It sounds more like a Robin Thick song than a Lil’ Wayne track, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Robin Thicke included it on his album as well. Wayne really drops some knowledge on his second verse with lines like these: They tried to tell me keep my eyes open/My whole city under water, some people still floatin’/And they wonder why Black people still votin’/Cause your president still jokin’/Take away the football team, the basketball team/Now all we got is me to represent New Orleans/No governor, no help from the mayor/Just a steady beatin’ heart and a wish and a prayer. That’s some real truth right there spoken by Weezy and should really be heard by everyone. This is a perfect example of why people shouldn’t just write off Wayne as an artist who doesn’t rap about anything. You can tell that he’s very passionate about his hometown and everything they have been through and are still struggling with. This is another favorite track of mine of this album that will get many spins from me.
Featuring Bobby Valentino; Produced by Deezle & Wyclef Jean
This is an interesting song by Wayne with him talking about his escapades and thoughts about having sex with a female police officer. Even though it’s a clever track with it topic/theme, it still comes off sounding your average track for the ladies. Bobby Valentino singing on the hook does what it’s supposed to do in further talking to the ladies, but the song kind of gets stale after a while of listening. Deezle & Wyclef Jean provide some nice production for this type of track and it does its job. This song isn’t a skip, but it’s kind of close to it for me.
Let The Beat Build
Produced by Kanye West
I know that they were trying to stay true to the song title with the production on this track in letting the beat build up throughout the song, but it gets very repetitive really quickly. Wayne isn’t really saying much on this track, but he does a nice job in switching up his flow during the song. The hook on this track is horrible and more thought should have been put into it than just what it is. This track is a skip for me and I won’t find myself listening to it much.
Shoot Me Down
Featuring D. Smith; Produced by Kanye West
The beat provided by Kanye on this track fits nicely with Wayne’s flow and delivery as it sounds very personal. The singing by D. Smith on the song’s hook is a nice addition, and it makes it sound like a Lupe Fiasco or Kanye West type track. This song is nice for it’s build-up, as Wayne’s flow and delivery get more aggressive as the song nears its end. It has a similar feel to Wayne’s “Gossip” track (The Leak EP).
Featuring Static Major; Produced by Deezle & Jim Jonsin
Okay, everybody and their momma has heard this song on the radio or seen the video on their favorite music video television program like 106 & Park or TRL. This song, which was the first official single for the album, like “A Milli” has been played to death and has gotten old after hearing it so much. Just like “A Milli”, this will be a song that doesn’t see much play from me just because I’ve heard it so much already. Despite that, this is an interesting type of song from Wayne and one I was surprised to see as his first single for the album when it was released. I was wondering what Wayne was on when I first heard this song, but after a while this song kind of grew on me and it did its job in building much anticipation for the album. The only question I have is why Deezle & Jim Jonsin sampled the music/sound effects from the game show Deal Or No Deal. When I first heard this song I said to myself, “those are definitely the sound effects from Deal Or No Deal” (Ha!).
Featuring Brisco & Busta Rhymes; Produced by David Banner
This track could have been done without on this album, as it sounds absolutely ridiculous with the “childlike” sounding production by David Banner. None of the artists on this song are really saying any spectacular or amazing, which makes this song even less interesting. This track is definitely a skip for me, and sounds like it should have been put on one of Wayne’s many previously released mixtapes instead of being placed on the album.
Playing With Fire
Featuring Betty Wright; Produced by StreetRunner
I know that I said earlier that the track “Shoot Me Down” sounded like Wayne’s “Gossip” track off his EP The Leak, but I think this track exemplifies that even more. Seeing as how StreetRunner, who also produced “Gossip”, handles the production, it gives off an epic kind of feel and blend well with Weezy’s lyrics and intensity/energy. Even though it’s similar to “Gossip” it’s not better than that track, as Wayne’s lyrics don’t really grab your attention like they did on the previous track, especially when you saw him perform it live for the first time at the BET Awards. This is an average track in my opinion and nothing more than that.
You Ain’t Got Nuthin’
Featuring Fabolous & Juelz Santana; Produced by The Alchemist
The Alchemist delivers his trademark sounding production on this track, which sort of works at times throughout the song. It might be just me but the production gets kind of boring to listen to after a while and it kind of takes away from the potential that this track had with Wayne, Fab, and Juelz all on a track together. Lyrically, all three emcees spit some nice rhymes, but the feel of the track makes it feel like a mixtape track instead of an album cut. Some better production would have made this track work much better.
Don’t Get It (Misunderstood)
Produced by will.i.am
After three average/mediocre tracks, Wayne closes out the album on a more personal note with an excellent finale to the project. The production from will.i.am is good on this track, but it comes off as kind of bland seeing as how the same kind of beat and song was done by Common with the song “Misunderstood” on his Finding Forever album. After two verses from Wayne, the proceeds to explain how people in the hood are really just misunderstood individuals. Think of Kanye West’s “Last Call” when you think about this track in ending off the album.
So in the end does C3 (Tha Carter III) live up to its hype and anticipation? Yes it most certainly does. Lil’ Wayne was able to continue his success from Tha Carter II and further build upon it into a product just as good. Is Tha Carter III the best album of 2008? It’s only June so it’s too early to determine that, especially knowing how the 4th quarter in the rap game is. Personally, I don’t think it’s the best album released in 2008 so far cause there have been some better released before this album, but I definitely think it’s one of the top albums of 2008 without a doubt. Despite the album being leaking, this album will still see some of the highest sales for a rap album in a very long time considering the state of the buying trends for rap albums. I can confidently say that this album will go platinum in its first week (and that’s a bold statement nowadays), but Wayne has the fans and support to do so. Wayne will no doubt have plenty of support from his die-hard fans, and I think he will be able to garner even more fans with this album. A lot of people, specifically “Hip-Hop Heads” have written off Wayne as just a commercial, pop-rap artist that’s just following the trends in the music industry, but I think that Weezy is much more than that if you really give him a chance. Yeah all artists have their commercial tracks and club songs (who doesn’t nowadays), but when Wayne wants to talk serious and spit the truth especially about the conditions of his hometown New Orleans, he can definitely lay claim to “The Best Rapper Alive” or at least the heir to the throne (that is once Hova really does retire from the rap game). This album had some low points, but there were more good points to be found and that’s what makes this album worth purchasing even if you aren’t a big Lil’ Wayne fan. Wayne has produced a great album right here that is sure to please various audiences with its range of songs from “Lollipop” to “Comfortable” to “Mrs. Officer” to “Dr. Carter”. There’s something to be found and liked by everybody off this album even if it’s not the entire album, and in the end that’s really what a great album is supposed to do and how you recognize one.
nappyPicks: “Comfortable”, “Mr. Carter”, “Tie My Hands”, “Dr. Carter”, “Lollipop”, & “A Milli”
Download: Lil’ Wayne feat. Robin Thicke – “Tie My Hands”