Illustration by Nico Orgain
Tha Carter V is here! All it took was six years, several missed release dates, a lawsuit, and a ton of Drake (who isn’t featured on the album but was heavily involved in its creation). Lil Wayne, whose real name is Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., announced that his most recent album, titled Tha Carter V (CV), was in production back in 2012. However, the album wasn’t released until late September 2018. In 2014, Carter spoke to the prolonged wait, saying the album wasn’t being released “bekuz Baby & Cash Money Rec. refuse to release it.” Wayne eventually sued mentor Birdman and Cash Money Record company for a number of things including accusing the company of not giving him money he was owed. Wayne now is the full owner of Cash Money Records. This means we will see his name on more projects, and Wayne will have the authority to decide when things get released in the future.
CV definitely has everything a good Lil Wayne album has, and then some. Sometimes, it has a little too much. It holds things that made albums Tha Carter II and Tha Carter III classics. Tha Carter V serves as a reminder of his talent, what he contributes to the music industry, and why he’s idolized by musicians like Lil Uzi Vert, Kodak Black, Kendrick Lamar, Nicki Minaj, and Drake. The album, according to claims he himself has made, might be Lil Wayne’s last.
Since announcing CV in 2012 his prior albums have shown that quantity took priority over quality. It’s clear however, that in that time Wayne was creating something spectacular. CV is a delicious mixture of Wayne’s unique voice, flow, crazy personality, and creative one liners. Lyrically, the album is very much Wayne, which is to say that the album is very much amazing. However, this only happens when Wayne puts in effort, which isn’t done consistently on the album.
The first song on the album “Don’t Cry” is a haunting tribute to life and death where Wayne talks about his fear of and thoughts on death, as well as his experience with feelings of depression. The feeling that the song communicates comes from Wayne’s lyrics as well as a chilling feature from XXXTENTACION that includes stirring and powerful vocals. The album ends with the song “Let it All Work Out,” which concludes with Wayne confronting his fears of death, saying he is reborn and ready to live his new life.
The album has some amazing tracks, but for every incredible record there’s a bad one with subpar lyrics and repetitive beats. Because the album took so long to cultivate, the tracks cover a lot of ground. The long wait allowed Wayne to experiment with production and sounds. This can be seen on “Let it Fly,” featuring Travis Scott. The record is reminiscent of the 2016 album Rodeo and Travis Scott’s most recent project Astroworld, which both showcase trippy psychedelic beats. Similarly, Wayne’s track with Kendrick Lamar, “Mona Lisa,” has a somewhat experimental beat, which initially can make the song a bit weird and scattered, but Wayne’s lyrics and Kendrick’s To Pimp A Butterfly era flow add to the song’s playability. There are also some R&B-esque songs on the album, like “Start This Sh*t Off Right,” where Lil Wayne features Ashanti, making the 2018 release feel like a throwback. It’s hard to say whether Wayne was mimicking Drake’s most recent plea for more streams by adding a whopping twenty-three songs to the album, or if Wayne just had too much time on his hands. It includes some soon to be classics but also has more than enough filler songs. If you’re curious as to what Wayne brings to the plate after years of absence, it’s worth a listen. However, don’t feel bad for skipping a track or two along the way.