After four years of high anticipation, Lil Wayne’s “Tha Carter V” has been released. Regardless of the type of music people listen to, we all know that Lil Wayne is one of the biggest influencers in music, as well as one of the best in the rap game. Whether it be for his vicious flow or his notorious similes, Lil Wayne’s new album release only adds to an already fantastic year for hip hop.
For those who don’t know, the wait for the album was long-lasting because of friction between Lil Wayne and his former longtime friend/business partner Birdman. In fact, the conflict between them dates back to 2014, when Wayne said that he was “in a bad situation, but will be out of it soon.” Unfortunately, it wasn’t as soon as Wayne and his fans thought.
After subtle jabs back and forth between each other, Lil Wayne announced in 2015 he was taking Birdman to court. Birdman reportedly was forbidding Lil Wayne from dropping “Tha Carter V,” thus violating terms in Lil Wayne’s contract. If Wayne won the lawsuit, it would end his contract with Cash Money (Birdman’s company) and take all of his Young Money signees with him (Drake and Nicki Minaj being the most notable).
Wayne would continue to diss Birdman and Cash Money throughout the ugly breakup. In addition, Wayne’s tour bus was shot up in Atlanta during this time. Thankfully, no one was injured, but people became suspicious of who may have attempted harm to the rapper also known as Weezy F. Baby.
Through all of these battles of contracts, releasing music and representation, fans remained loyal and hopeful that things would not get too ugly. It wasn’t until June that fans learned Wayne would officially be out of his contract with Cash Money and able to release “Tha Carter V.” He was reportedly aiming to release it some time in September.
A rumor rapidly spread that the album was going to drop on Sept. 21, but the day came and went. Luckily, however, the wait wasn’t too much longer; the album came out just a week later. On Friday, Sept. 28, “Tha Carter V” was released and could be streamed on various musical platforms. “Tha Carter V” is the 12th studio album by Lil Wayne and his first one not being associated with Cash Money. Many features on the album include Kendrick Lamar, Travis Scott, Nicki Minaj, Ashanti, a few others and some snippets from the late XXXTentacion and former President Barack Obama.
Now time for my favorite part: the review. As someone who has grown up listening to Lil Wayne, I believe that this album was worth the hype. Since there was a delay, Wayne had to change up some of the sound and content to stick with the new era of hip hop. Throughout the years, he kept tweaking and tinkering his music to create just the right sound for 2018. Elias Leight of Rolling Stone talked about the creation process of the album:
“Some of these songs were originally cut as far back as 2013, not long after ‘Tha Carter V’ was first announced, while others were finished as recently as this week. The album’s unique combination of fussed-over and tossed-off makes it an anomaly in modern hip-hop, where artists spew albums at a rapid rate — inspired in part, of course, by the success of mid-2000s Lil Wayne, who shot out multiple mixtapes every year — and rarely have time to revisit and reassess a song from five years ago, five months ago or even five minutes ago.”
The album has a plethora of producers who helped Weezy create the work. That being said, it’s refreshing to hear some older producers on some beats like Swizz Beats and Mannie Fresh, and more new-school producers like Metro Boomin’. Many of the songs contain clean transitions from one beat, to another, then back to the original. Although the beats were something that Lil Wayne usually didn’t allow to become too complex, it was clear that, in “Tha Carter V,” he was willing to go off regardless.
The album begins with a heartfelt message from his mother, Jacida Carter, in “I Love You Dwayne,” which definitely gives listeners an idea of what is to come. Lil Wayne, born Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., has gone through many things: good, bad and ugly. In fact, Lil Wayne is just glad to be able to be where he is today.
As is the case with many aging rappers, fans have begun to question whether or not these musicians (Eminem and Lil Wayne, especially) are able to keep up with today’s sound. In “Uproar,” Lil Wayne asks, “where the love go,” ultimately showing that even though he was out of music for a while, he still has plenty of bars left in the tank.
The album has a solid mixture of club-sounding songs as well as slowed-down, deep messages in his lyrics. Wayne opens up about his attempted suicide at age 12, wherein he shot himself in the chest. He referenced it briefly in a song in 2016, but in “Let It All Work Out,” he opens up about it more in depth:
“I shot it, and I woke up with blood all around me. It’s mine, I didn’t die, but as I was dying; God came to my side and we talked about it; He sold me another life and he made a prophet [profit].”
That line in itself is what I find to be the theme of the album: Lil Wayne is just glad to be where he is today. He survived this shot and wound up being one of the best ever in music. He has gone through some adversity, but he is a soldier, and he will always fight.
That being said, I believe that overall, the album is a celebration. This conflict revolving around him and Cash Money is over, and he can drop his music with no strings attached. I can safely say that Wayne yearned to release this album on his own terms. A good example of celebration of the album’s release is in the song “Start This S— Off Right.” The song, in fact, was my favorite based off my first listen, but “Tha Carter V” ultimately shows Lil Wayne is trying to put all this stuff behind him and live his best life now.
Wayne has stated in the past that “Tha Carter V” would be his final album of “Tha Carter” series, as well as the final album of his career. Only time will tell, but if this truly is the end of a legendary series, it ends on a good note. If you have been a longtime fan and listener of Lil Wayne, then you know this would be a proper send off for this iconic musical figure.