For nearly a decade Lil Wayne had the entire rap section of the music industry on lock. 2004’s ‘Tha Carter’ was the beginning of Wayne’s domination, the following year’s second installment of the series elevated his profile to immense proportions. The rise didn’t stop till the series did. 2008’s ‘Tha Carter III’ literally made Wayne “The Best Rapper Alive” a self fulfilling prophesy and self spoken affirmation turned reality. Label politics aside Wayne’s status is solidified with his triumphant return in a time where a musician’s window of opportunity has been sized down by social media and the super speed of the media cycle. Super producer Mannie Fresh returns, Wayne brings past staples into the present seamlessly, with a 2018 version of ‘Special Delivery’ on ‘Uproar’, an Ashanti feature which sounds like a YMCMB compilation album crossover single, and rhyme schemes and flows long forgotten in the ‘mumble rap’ days of the current.
This feat is pulled off simply because Wayne is the influencer who birthed the current culture. He can bring things from his past easily into the modern paradigm because he is the one who shaped it. Every rapper today claims to be a ‘rockstar’, and proudly professes their diverse influences and rock fandom but it was only Wayne who allowed this to be accepted, pulling out guitar solos with zero practice had more of an influence on music than a purist would have ever anticipated.
‘Tha Carter V’ boasts introspective and honest tracks like ‘Open Letter’ ‘Mess’ ‘Don’t Cry’ ‘Famous’ -which features the rappers own mother- and ‘Let It All Work Out’. This openness is an attribute often overlooked when analyzing Wanye’s artistry. Production on the LP is pristine and inventive, at times though also dated, not negatively- his rhyme schemes are dated as well but due to the direction lyricism has gone songs like ‘Let It Fly’ featuring trailblazer Travis Scott shows why Wayne is lyrically miles ahead of the pack, he takes a limited rhyme concept and stretchs it out to near limitlessness extending on a self-created lyrical meme to an extent that seems almost impossible. In the streaming era Wayne, though never one to really release short albums, manages to make a daunting 23 track album have enough twists,turns, and changes in emotions to keep the listener interested. In it’s entirety ‘Tha Carter V’ is the much needed stamp on a legendary career, a polarizing figure in Hip-Hop where purist at times would place Wayne in the position of the person solely responsible for the commercialization and downfall of the culture, ironically with his return his talent is the one elevating the new generation conceptually, lyrically, artistically and emotionally.