We can only imagine what Tha Carter V might have sounded like in 2014 when Lil Wayne first announced it was finished. We'll never know how many Trinidad James features that shelved draft of the album might have included, or what kind of play on "Blurred Lines" Wayne might have made, or which words he might have rhymed with Gotye. That album probably wouldn't have been very good, and it almost certainly wouldn't have been as rewarding or revealing as the belated final product that a humbled Wayne presented on his 36th birthday, after the four most trying years of his career.
"Still the motherfuckin' best rapper a-live," Lil Wayne offhandedly declares on "Dope New Gospel," a coasting track on which the unmistakable MC also insists that he's irreplaceable, even in death. Claiming supremacy while considering mortality has long been as natural as walking while chewing gum for Dwayne Carter, but there's a greater, grimmer sense across the long-anticipated Carter V that life is just a moment. Wayne's mother sets the tone with a spoken intro that verges on eulogistic, and through her tears somehow leaves the impression that even she is ever so slightly exasperated about the setbacks and protracted delays that plagued the fifth Carter after her son publicized its imminence in 2012.
Since the release of Tha Carter IV in 2011, Lil Wayne has left fans clinging on to any hope that the quintessential rap series would continue. With health issues, drug addictions and family ties bring dragged through the ringer since The Carter V's original announce in 2014, what was to be expected from the surprise 23-track album was worrisome, but anticipated nevertheless.
Despite the added fat (i.e. "Perfect Strangers," "Mess," "Start This Shit Off Right"), Lil Wayne strips down to a more bare-bones version of himself, showcasing ….
Rating: NNN It's hard to believe it's been five years since Lil Wayne's last release (I Am Not A Human Being II), and seven since his last entry in the Carter series. So much has happened since then: his proteges Drake and Nicki Minaj have blown up more and more each year, and scores of Wayne's spiritual disciples released chart-topping music with warbling out of tune vocals - the kind that Young Money's golden child was maligned for when he strapped on a guitar and gurgled away. After prison, contract disputes, drug issues and a public reconciliation hug with mentor/father figure Birdman, Weezy's back.
T he most anticipated hip-hop album of the autumn - Kanye West's Yandhi - did not appear on schedule. Another long-awaited set did, though: Lil Wayne's Tha Carter V (due in 2013). The wait for C5 has involved label ructions, suits, countersuits, the disgraced Martin Shkreli and the rise of numerous rappers deploying the prefix "Lil" - many of whom model themselves in some way (face tattooes, slurred delivery) on the New Orleans powerhouse.