Lil Wayne, “Tha Carter IV” (Universal Republic)
Did prison make Lil Wayne any harder or smarter? You can’t tell from “Tha Carter IV,” the southern MC’s latest full-length. What is clear from the record is the rapper’s drive for domination, his desire to be everywhere at once, his intense-even-for-hip-hop self-love.
Of all days that Weezy could headline Denver’s largest venue, his booking agents chose release day for “Tha Carter IV,” and Wayne’s Tuesday-night show at Comfort Dental Amphitheatre was certainly an exercise in hubris. To be fair, the concert was simply an extension of his latest record.
Of course Wayne still has the hot rhymes, as we learn from the apocalyptic “Abortion:” “I got the world in my hands/I make it spin on my finger/I’m a critical thinker/I’m a helluva smoker/And a bit of a drinker.” And there’s part of us that enjoys the streetball imagery paired with Wayne’s iconic smile, that prideful world-on-a-string glee Frank Sinatra first hit us with.
But is it deserved?
Wayne thinks he’s at the top of his game. “I been at the top for a while and I ain’t jumped yet,” he rhymes in the addictive creeper “She Will.” But how does “Tha Carter IV” compare to Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “Watch the Throne,” which was the most talked-about hip-hop release of the year until this release came along on Tuesday.
“Throne” benefits from multiple visions, and it’s clear that Jay and ’Ye took turns with the inspiration, the focus. And while Weezy employs plenty of help on his latest – including Drake, T-Pain, Rick Ross, John Legend, Busta Rhymes, Nas, Bun B and Tech N9ne – Wayne is the sole captain of “Tha Carter IV,” and that kind of limited scope has its drawbacks.
Click here for a full review of Lil Wayne and Rick Ross at Comfort Dental Amphitheatre.