Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III dropped back in 2008. Upon listening to the album in its entirety again today for the first time in a while, I realized how classic it is to me.
2008 was before I knew about music websites, hip-hop blogs, and all those other ways to find out about new music. I remember in high school, almost every day I would get on iTunes on the computer and search to see if something new dropped that I could check out. I would search 'Lil Wayne' and see if anything new was released. At that point I was just getting interested again in hip-hop, and was hooked on Wayne's wordplay and couldn't get enough of his features.
Carter III is special to me for a couple reasons. One of them being that the cover album art is so memorable, to me. It's a 'baby photo' of Wayne, face tats and all, and is reminiscent of Nas' legendary Illmatic release from 94. Though Nas' 94 release is typically held on a much higher pedestal than Wayne's sixth studio album Carter III, it is interesting to compare the two visually. Personally I think Carter III is one of the most interesting album covers in the time of its release, and years later in 2014 I still think the album art is just as powerful.
Wayne opens Carter III with a fire track called "3-Peat." Sonically he is playing with words in the sense that this is his third release in the Carter series, and he expects nothing less for his album than triple platinum status. He goes on to brag about being a champion and being untouchable. I love this track, and it definitely pumps you up to hear the rest of the project.
The next track is "Mr. Carter" with a dope feature from none other than Hov himself. The track is mind-blowing conceptually. One Carter, Jay, passes the mic down to "the other Carter," Wayne. Jay finishes his verse with: "I took so much change from this rap game, it's your go." It's the perfect ending to this collab., and it's cool that this is the second track of the album. It gives Weezy the rest of the project to prove himself, which he definitely does lyrically.
"A Milli" is the beat that almost every rapper has jumped on. The song that sort of defined Carter III for some "bubble gum" listeners. I remember seeing the video on MTV all the time, and love the random nature of the video, as the camera seems to just follow Wayne on set. Peep the video below:
Though playful and fun, this album also has its more serious themes. "Tie My Hands" features R&B singer Robin Thicke while criticizing president Bush for his "help," or lack thereof, during the mess of Hurricane Katrina. The track is deep, makes you think, and emotionally raw. To me, tracks like these make albums classics. Wayne goes on to explain his animosity toward the US government and president Bush in particular, when no one could seem to be bothered to help the city get back on their feet after such an untimely tragedy.
Another song that speaks volumes of Wayne's capability as an artist is the project's last track, "Dontgetit." For nearly ten minutes, Wayne completely goes in. He brings up the fact that the US sends more young black people to jail instead of off to college. He rationalizes with police by saying law enforcement logic is to drive around the bad neighborhoods because the probability of busting drug dealers and criminals is much higher than that of suburbia. He also explains that most people in bad areas only begin selling drugs in order to help themselves get out of the hood, and live an easier life in suburbia. Now if this track does not make you think, then Wayne's just misunderstood. And he's ok with that.
Carter III is the first and last project by Wayne that really wow-ed me and kept me interested from the first track to the project's last. It is definitely worth a listen.
If you are new to Carter III and want to check out the project, please feel free to use the link below to grab it on Amazon: