Lil Wayne--Tha Carter III

Lil' Wayne

Tha Carter III

(Cash Money/Young Money/Universal)

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Possibly the most anticipated hip-hop release since Jay Z's The Black Album, Tha Carter III is Lil Wayne's 6th studio album and the final in the Tha Carter Trilogy. There's been much hype surrounding this release seeing that many of the tracks have been purposely leaked onto the internet since last year. But fear not, Young Money fans, the official package is both fresh and so clean that it's better than any bootlegged rip-off from Limewire. The 16-track album features just about every hot producer in the game right now. Cool & Dre, Kanye West, Swizz Beatz, the Alchemist, and will.I.am amongst others lend their beat-making skills to what it's easily the best hip-hop album so far this year. And the more you listen to it, it's hard to believe that there could be any rap artist in 2008 that could beat it.

Banger after banger after banger, Wayne makes certain that he's known as the best rapper alive. Even on "Mr. Carter" which boasts a guest spot from the "other" best rapper alive Jay-Z (who ironically bares the same last name as Wayne), Jay's performance seems pitiful when laid next to Weezy's vernacular ease. Take for instance the futuristic song of "Phone Home" - a homage to E.T. and a declaration that Wayne might well be an alien, he spits: "I could get your brains for a bargain, like I bought it from Target / Hip-hop is my supermarket, shopping cart full of fake hip-hop artists." By far, "A Milli", which has been getting much love in the clubs, is going to be one of the biggest tracks of the year. With it's slowed-down, repeat backdrop of "A Milli" strung throughout the track while the bass drop is so damn low that it breaks sound frequency, this track is a reminder why Wayne gets paid $30,000 a pop for 15 bars.

Yet it's not just fun and games with this album. Lil' Wayne realizes his status as this generation's Tupac and even compares himself to Martin Luther King on the track "Playin' with Fire." But the true test of his influential power over the ghetto youths comes through on the heart-wrenching song "Tie my Hands." Produced by Kanye West with an appearance by Robin Thicke, "Tie my Hands" is an emotional reflection on Wayne's beloved city of New Orleans and the aftermath of Katrina. "Take away the football team, the basketball team, now all we got is me to represent New Orleans. No governor, no help from the mayor / Just a steady-beating heart and a wish and a prayer." As if Wayne needed to say anymore, it's obvious that his words are impacting so many kids growing up in the hood. So for all the haters out there, keep hatin' because it's Weezy, baby, and regardless what you think of him and his thriple-stacked styrofoam cups, his lyrical skills and his undeniable swagger makes him the Tupac Obama of hip-hop right now.

--Esther Park

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