LIL WAYNE Tha Carter V (Young Money) 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. And it’s fine.
Tha Carter V is a few things at once: an album that can deliver high-concept songs about someone who tricks women into robbing unsuspecting suitors, an uplifting story of a rapper falling into the pit traps of fame and climbing out, and proof that Wayne can meld with and improve on contemporary hip-hop flows.
The last point is the most sonically interesting on the album. Hearing such an influential rapper take on Kendrick Lamar-style histrionics is impressive, but on an album where Lamar does his most theatrical verse on crime tale Mona Lisa, Wayne doesn’t sound innovative. Opener Don’t Cry makes a solid first impression, although the presence of the late domestic abuser XXXTentacion may sit badly with some listeners.
Even with all of the guests (Travis Scott, Snoop Dogg, Ashanti and others), Wayne handles himself. Occasionally his lines reflect the flow of his label counterparts – the classic Young Money trio of Wayne, Drake and Minaj – and although it’s hard to tell who influences whom, it adds to the album’s scattered feel.
After the long wait it’s not a disappointing effort, but it’s all over the place. Top track: Dedicate NICK FLANAGAN