After a tumultuous couple of years, both personally and musically, Lil Wayne returns with the latest entry to 'Tha Carter' series. As his Young Money brand goes from strength to strength, the standard of his musical output has waned dramatically since Tha Carter III smashed the sales chart. Rebirth was an unsuccessful foray into a rock oriented sound, while I Am Not a Human Being was a lazy cash-in on discarded Carter IV tracks. Despite this, interest in new Wayne material remains at fever pitch. Both Rebirth and IANAHB easily reached gold selling status, and sales predictions for Tha Carter IV show it is expected to almost reach platinum in its first week. The question is, does the album live up to its hype?
The intro track is standard Young Money era Lil Wayne. Heinous 'hashtag' rap is abound over a fairly pedestrian beat. The best is recycled for two further interludes on the project. Strangely, Wayne does not appear on either of the two, employing Tech N9ne and Andre 3000 to handle the first and a plethora of stars such as Bun B, Nas and Busta Rhymes to appear on the second. These are two of the strongest tracks on the album, so it is puzzling Wayne decided not to appear. Another weird feature is that the beat for 'John' uses the same beat as 'I'm Not a Star' from Rick Ross' Teflon Don. Ross himself guests on the song, but it is hard to believe that two of the biggest stars in rap could not find a new beat or concept for a song together. Aside from that, it's actually a very good track.
'Blunt Blowin' picks things up a little, showcasing the scatter-gun flow that made Wayne so popular in the first place: 'I'm a bad motherfucker, cuz the good die young/ Everybody selling dreams, I'm too cheap to buy one/ Man when that cookie crumble, everybody want a crumb/ Shoot that hummingbird down, hummingbird don't hum'. The hit single '6 Foot 7 Foot' is also a strong club banger, with a scene stealing verse from Corey Gunz. 'She Will' and 'How to Love' show a more sensitive side of the rapper, these songs are sure to be big hits among his female fan base. 'How to Love' especially proves to be a success, Wayne using auto tune effectively to craft an emotional piece. John Legend provides an excellent, soulful hook on 'So Special', while 'It's Good' finds Jadakiss on menacing form.
Unfortunately, there are also quite a few missteps on the album. 'Nightmares of the Bottom' is a ponderous attempt to show introspection, becoming instantly forgettable. 'How to Hate' is an interesting concept, T-Pain and Wayne discussing the girls who have done them wrong, but the execution is an auto tune induced car crash between two artists who have nowhere near the amount of chemistry that they think they do. 'Abortion' and 'President Carter' similarly bring nothing to the table.
Track by Track:
- Intro 6/10
- Blunt Blowin 7/10
- MegaMan 6/10
- 6 Foot 7 Foot (feat. Cory Gunz) 8/10
- Nightmares Of The Bottom 5/10
- She Will (feat. Drake) 7/10
- How To Hate (feat. T-Pain) 4/10
- Interlude (feat. Tech N9ne) 8/10
- John (feat. Rick Ross) 7/10 (Point knocked off for recycling an old song)
- Abortion 6/10
- So Special (feat. John Legend) 7/10
- How To Love 8/10
- President Carter 5/10
- Its Good (feat. Drake & Jadakiss) 7/10
- Outro (feat. Bun B, Nas, Shyne & Busta Rhymes) 7/10
This was never going to live up to the hype. Wayne provides us with a passable album, rarely straying far beyond his favourite topics of sex and money. Despite being the weakest entry into the Carter series, the LP, however, does have some notable highlights. Regardless of whether it is any good, it will still sell more units than the bible, so reviewing the project is almost fruitless.