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Lil Wayne: Tha Carter III

Lil Wayne: Tha Carter III

Label:Cash Money/young Money/universal
Release Date:2008
Genre:Hip Hop/Rap

By Raymond Cummings | Posted 6/18/2008

Fueled by ganja, screw juice, and jacked urban-pop beats, Lil Wayne has transformed himself into the ultimate hip-hop freelancer. Racking up a staggering résumé of internet mixtapes and simultaneously guest-rhyming on tracks by everyone from Fat Joe to the Cool Kids to Bow Wow for a rumored $75K per cameo, Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. is simply everywhere, his gravelly, giggly idiot-savant patter turning standard gangsta tropes into triple-decker punch lines.

The long-awaited Tha Carter III amounts to a coronation ceremony, ditching the hard-edged, second-string production and verses run-amok of 2005's Tha Carter II for A-list joints and calculated self-aggrandizement. "Excuse me if I'm late/ But like a thief, it takes time to be this great," he quips at the start of Swizz Beats' regally austere rap-resuscitation "Dr. Carter."

If Birdman Jr. was flexing his verbal muscles on freebies like last year's lauded Da Drought 3, Carter III is Weezy at heightened-profile play: dredging up the specter of Beetlejuice and stunting with Jay-Z ("Mr. Carter"); caddishly reinterpreting the meaning of "fuck tha police" with R&B comer Bobby Valentino on should-be summertime smash "Mrs. Officer"; issuing a Babyface-assisted, grown 'n' sexy rejoinder to every talking point on Beyoncé's "Irreplaceable" ("Comfortable"). Lead single "Lollipop" pushes the auto-tune envelope into a slow-grind club zone; good luck resisting its irresistible, vaguely hyphy charms. The beat from producer Bangladesh on "A Milli" thrums like an active tattoo needle as Wayne robotically cycles through bulletproof verses.

Letting us think "You Ain't Got Nuthin'" is a gift to pals Fabolous and Juelz Santana--both of whom absolutely slay Alchemist's webbed-synth track with top-shelf one-liners--Wayne swoops in at the end to show them up. The mood darkens when Wayne muses on Hurricane Katrina's legacy ("Tie My Hands") and all but invites an assassination attempt (Streetrunner's classic-rock fabulous "Playin' With Fire"), but Carter III is mostly up and rapscallion upscale, a genius-level master class.

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