{mosimage}Tha Carter III has finally arrived. After months of pushing back release dates, numerous mixtapes, dozens of cameo appearances (over 70 in the past year or so) and braggadocio from one of hip-hop’s biggest stars, the long awaited record is finally here. Tha Carter II was a platinum selling disc and critically acclaimed which caused fans to vault Lil’ Wayne into the upper echelon of hip hop’s elite superstars. With all of the excitement and promotion over Tha Carter III expectations are that it will make a big splash commercially and take him to an even higher level. Ever the cocky superstar, Lil’ Wayne aka Weezy F. Baby (please say the Baby) has insisted that he is the “best rapper alive“ over the past few years, and his latest project hopes to support his claim.
    On the opening track, titled “3 Peat,” Wayne states “they can’t stop me, even if they stopped me.” Of course, this might sound like an absurd, redundant statement from anyone else, but Wayne and his infectious delivery and charismatic personality allow him to spit crazy lines such as this and make you listen. “3 Peat” features Wayne at his fiery best and starts off the album with a bang. The next track features Jay-Z on the epic “Mr. Carter,” where the two flaunt their rap heavyweight status, over some pounding keys and a smooth sample provided by Drew Correa. “Got Money” with T-Pain and the lead single “Lollipop” featuring Static Major are also definite hits.
    Lil’ Wayne also throws listeners a curveball by venturing outside his usual musical realm, and offering crooners Robin Thicke and Bobby Valentino a chance to shine on “Tie My Hands” and “Mrs. Officer,” respectively. The two songs are typically laidback and slow down the momentum of the album from the pounding drums and hard basslines of some of the earlier tracks but they are welcome additions that grow on you after repeated listens.
    However, the true gem of the album is “Dr. Carter,” featuring Wayne playing the part of a doctor trying to heal patients from various “ailments” rappers suffer from such as lack of concepts, weak flow, lack of style, etc. Swizz Beatz laces the track exquisitely by flipping a sample from David Axelrod’s “Smile” and allowing Wayne to perform his “surgery.” The concept is so well developed that there is even dialogue from Wayne and his nurses in between the verses, and the music even takes an upward tone when he appears to be “saving a victim.”
    This track is simply Lil’ Wayne at his best, and is one of those songs driven by a concept that a rapper like Nas or Ghostface would bless us with on their album. As great as Lil’ Wayne claims to be all too often, he would truly be timeless if he offered more memorable tracks such as this, but Tha Carter III has its downsides as well.
    As creative as it was for him to play a doctor on the aforementioned track, Wayne falls flat on another concept song “Phone Home,” where he plays the role of a Martian. As stated, “Mr. Carter” is a great song, but unfortunately Jay-Z steals the show with a stellar verse, and guests Fabulous and Juelz Santana also outshine Weezy on “You Ain’t Got Nuthin.” The latter track features a trademark sinister, brooding beat from the Alchemist, but Weezy wastes the heat and comes in third place providing better support on the song’s hook than his actual verse. Truly, the best rapper alive shouldn’t get shown up repeatedly by his featured guests on his own album right?
    He also falls flat on the Kanye West track “Let the Beat Build,” but thankfully, Lil‘ Wayne he finds his niche on “Comfortable,”  a melodic serenade also produced by West featuring R&B legend, Babyface
Fortunately, for all of the flaws that Tha Carter III suffers from, the bonus disc that many received when purchasing the album make up for some of Wayne’s miscues on the main disc. The bonus disc features seven songs with our hero at his best going back to his usual musical backdrop and swagger of hard basslines, braggadocio lines and crazy metaphors that we are familiar with from his past efforts. No crooning singers or lackluster hooks on this one. Not saying that Wayne trying to stretch his creative boundaries should be frowned upon, but songs such as the pulsating “Gossip” where he spits “I graduated from hungry and made it to greedy,”  and the moving “Love Me or Hate Me,” are what make Lil’ Wayne a star. If some of the songs from the first disc were cut and replaced with a few of the bonus cuts it definitely would have fared better for him.

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