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					Lil Wayne – Carter 3 (4 1/2 stars)

By Michael McGill

Every so often a project comes along that has the potential to be a king-maker. When the
artists’ commercial appeal, street following and critical acclaim converge in a way that
forces the rest of the genre to sit up and take notice, somewhat similar to 50 Cent circa
“Get Rich or Die Tryin”. Lil Wayne, love him or hate him, it’s almost impossible to
ignore him. Though he’s been in the game for twelve years, the entire rap game didn’t
truly take notice of Lil’ Wayne until the Carter series commenced.

The Carter series (and numerous scene-stealing guest appearances and classic mixtapes )
have lent some credence to Wayne’s claim of being the “Best Rapper Alive”. This notion
would’ve been dismissed as entirely laughable only a few years ago. However, Wayne’s
work ethic and consistency has positioned him from being a bench player in the game to
approaching rap’s zenith. But does Wayne credibly stake his claim to the throne with the
Carter 3?

Well after a solid and energetic intro, “Mr. Carter” plays like a passing of the torch, as
Wayne finally gets to play host to his rap idol. Wayne skillfully meanders through the
track with double entendre: “I got the flow/I'm tryna see the roof/ Didn't wear a
bulletproof/ so I got shot/ and you can see the proof/ Blind eyes could look at me and see
the truth/Wonder if Stevie do?”

But while Jay-Z lyrics seem to say he’s accepting this change of the guard, his razor-
sharp flow says otherwise:

“I'm right here/in my chair/With my crown/ and my dear/ Queen B/as I share
Mic time /with my heir/ Young Carter/go farther/ Go further/go harder
Is that not why we came? /And if not then why bother?”

But Young Carter is more than capable of carrying the show. “A Milli” with its head- nod
inducing bass, percussion and dancehall flavored loop gives Wayne a prime soundscape
to absolutely blackout to: “I'm a Young Money Millie- in- aire/ tougher than Nigerian
hair/My criteria compared/ to your career just isn't fair/I'm a venereal disease like a
menstrual bleed/Through the pencil/ and leak to the sheet of the tablet/ in my mind…”
This song is an example of what makes Wayne an ill MC. It’s the unpredictability of his
trademark free-associating rhymes and his vast array of flows and deliveries which only
enhances his growing versatility.

That versatility is on full display on the Carter 3. He slyly makes an answer record to
Beyonce’s man-bashing “Irreplaceable” with “Comfortable” as he calmly admonishes the
ladies not to rest on their laurels over a lush Kanye arrangement. He later takes a
minimalist bass guitar and percussion beat from Swizz Beatz and creates a masterpiece of
a concept record with “Dr. Carter”. On which he lyrically gives you the prescription for
what ails Hip-Hop. From “Tie My Hands” featuring a particularly soulful appearance
from Robin Thicke and heartfelt lyrics dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to
the rock-infused suicidal catharsis of “Shoot Me Down” Wayne remains charismatic and
engaging.

Possibly the biggest testament to Wayne’s charisma is that his hypnotic, synth bleep
laden #1 single “Lollipop may have been the most addictive R&B song this year though
he technically can’t sing. Unfortunately, mis-steps like the underwhelming T-Pain-
featured “Got Money” hold the Carter 3 back from achieving classic status. But while the
elder Mr. Carter may hold the title of “Best Rapper Alive” in the minds of more, with the
Carter 3, you now have to respect his candidacy to that title-- like his name was Barack
Obama.