Let’s put things in perspective. We reviewed Lil’ Wayne‘s Tha Carter IV back n 2011. 2011. And almost seven years later, after multiple false release dates and legal issues, the world finally gets a sequel with the release of Tha Carter V.
I had this long intro in mind on how we got here, but what’s the point? It’s no way you discovered this website and don’t know the story behind Tha Carter V. In short: That album was originally announced in November 2012 but issues with Cash Money Records stopped the release. This later led to Weezy suing Cash Money for $51 million in 2015 for unpaid royalties and ownership of the Young Money imprint. But this past June it was reported that both sides had reached a settlement with Wayne finally parting ways with Cash Money Records, reportedly receiving $10 million, and gaining sole ownership of the Young Money imprint.
And that’s how we finally got to Tha Carter V being an actual real thing. But was it worth the wait? Let’s find out.
Random Sidenote: Wasn’t Tha Carter V suppose to be Lil Wayne’s last album?
1. I Love You Dwayne
Featuring Jacida Carter
The album starts out with Lil Wayne’s mother, Jacida Carter, giving her son a heartfelt and tearful message about how proud she is of him. This feels right because besides me having nothing bad to say about a mother’s love for her son, Weezy’s mom is also on the album cover. She also shows up throughout the album via unlisted interludes which helps with the theme of the album.
2. Don’t Cry
Featuring XXXTentacion; Produced by Z3N and Ben Billions
The first song on Tha Carter V has Weezy rapping about facing difficult situations and prevailing over them. I felt this could’ve been better but it does fit with the album finally being released. R.I.P. to XXXTentacion but his posthumous hook here is kinda irritating. The emotion of the song also drops when I found out that Lil Wayne didn’t even know who XXXTentacion was until somebody brought the him the hook. Like I said, okay but could’ve been better.
Produced by Roc N Mayne, Louie Haze, & Manny Galvez
On “Dedicate”, Tunechi talks his big influence on the rap game. And he’s right. At first I didn’t like the almost breathless flow Wayne used here but after a few listens it grew on me:
I started this shit, you just part of this shit
I’m the heart of this shit, and the heart doesn’t skip
Take the heart of yo’ bitch, ’cause like Bart, you a simp
And your water don’t drip so your garden ain’t shit
The laid back piano powered production gives Wayne room to talk his shit and it works. The song samples 2 Chainz’s “Dedication”, which was basically a tribute to Wayne. That reminds me: 2 Chainz should’ve been on this album.
Produced by Swizz Beatz & Avenue
This is another song that grew on me. At first I felt the production was lazy for a few reasons:
- The beat is basically a slighting changed version of G. Dep’s “Special Delivery”.
- Lil Wayne already rapped over G . Dep’s “Special Delivery” via “Green Ranger” off Dedication 4 and even rapped that he didn’t like the beat.
5. Let It Fly
Featuring Travis Scott; Produced by Sevn Thomas & Drtwrk
I’ll go ahead and admit upfront that I’ve never been a big fan of Travis Scott so I’m pretty sure that’s one of the reasons I felt that “Let It Fly” was boring. Wayne has a few good lines (“The Uzi with the booty clip; more than one, I’m too-equipped/Talking ’bout some fake niggas, based on true events”), but the hook and production was uninspired. Next.
6. Can’t Be Broken
Produced by Thomas Troelsen & Ben Billions
This feels like something a present day Eminem would rap over. That being said, I actually like “Can’t Be Broken” and by the time it’s gets to the break down and Wayne is saying “G-code, G-code, we can’t break the G-code”, I’m all in.
As the title would suggest, Weezy raps about how no matter what happens to him, he is unbreakable. This is a win.
7. Dark Side Of The Moon
Featuring Nicki Minaj; Produced by Bloque & Jonah Christian
I was so ready to hate this song. Mainly because it wasn’t Wayne & Nicki going back and forth with bars. But you know what? This is a good song that really picks up when Nicki Manaj comes in as her singing actually steals the show. This is basically a ballad and if it turns out to be a single for the album, it has a chance to be huge.
8. Mona Lisa
Featuring Kendrick Lamar; Produced by Infamous & Onhel
Speaking of bars. Not only do Wayne & Kendrick Lamar deliver on “Mona Lisa”, they give us a story with multiple perspectives. The story includes a deceptive woman and robbery and at parts the track feels like it could have lived on To Pimp a Butterfly or something. The production is also multilayered and well executed. “Mona Lisa” is a good song and it’s a reason why it’s one of the two songs off Tha Carter V that debuted in the top five on the Billboard Hot 100. Crazy enough, this song was reportedly recorded in 2014.
9. What About Me
Featuring Sosamann; Produced by DJ Frank E & Johnny Yukon
I was wondering when Wayne was gonna
rap sing about women on this album. My question was answered on “What About Me”. I don’t mind Auto-Tune if it’s well done or used sparingly. That doesn’t happen here. Wayne is basically crying about a woman who did him wrong. And what’s up with the weak feature? Nah. Skip.
10. Open Letter
Produced by Nick Da Piff, Infamous, & Ben Billions
I don’t think “Open Letter” is the best name of this song (Besides the pencil writing sound effects at the beginning). I mean yes, Weezy is opening up about “real life” things like questions on his existence or how sometimes he makes his “rubber wear a rubber”. It’s more of Wayne just talking about his problems for 4 minutes over a beat that doesn’t really change. Kinda boring.
The ending has an interlude of Jacida Carter talking about the first time she heard Wayne was having a child. This rolls appropriately into the next song…
Featuring Reginae Carter; Produced by Ace Harris & Sak Pase
As the name implies, “Famous” has Tunechi rapping about his rise to fame and the effects of that. It’s also features his first-born Reginae Carter (Who actually has a musical history with the teen girl group OMG Girlz). In terms of songs dealing with fame, “Famous” isn’t terrible. It leans more pop than rap so I can see what this song is trying to do. Still, I’m not that into it. But props to Weezy for putting one of his kids on Tha Carter V. That’s cool.
Produced by Zaytoven
Lil Wayne hooks up with producer Zaytoven on “Problems”. That should tell you everything you need to know. There is Auto-Tune. There is trap production. Even if that’s your thing, the results are forgettable with nothing sticking out.
I did laugh at the line “Blunt big, big as Mama June off the diet plan”. Seeing that some of the songs on this album were recorded years ago, I thought about this line for second. But it actually works with any version of Mama June. Okay, enough rambling.
13. Dope Niggaz
Featuring Snoop Dogg; Produced by Kamo & R.I.O.
Even though a Snoop Dogg feature is basically ubiquitous now, I was still surprised to see him featured on “Dope Niggaz”. Then I heard the song and heard the sample of Dr. Dre’ “Xxplosive” and then it all made sense. And to be honest, it’s the sample that won me over. Snoop handles the hook and Weezy raps about being dope and not being a broke nigga. Uh, dope.
Produced by AJayones
“Hittas” is yet another song that eventually grew on me. It’s a song that has a lot going on but is expertly put together. First off, its samples Boosie Badazz (I think it’s from “U Know I Ain’t Scared” but I’m not sure) and South African singer Tasha Baxter’s “The Journey”. It’s also uses Lil’ Wayne’s famous court deposition, a clip from an interview with Katie Couric, and even a line from Drake, (“Weezy, where you been? The people miss you”) which marks the only time you hear Drake on this album. Wayne also sounds comfortable on the track and the whole thing just works.
15. Took His Time
Produced by Infamous & Freeway TJay
The theme of “Took His Time” is based on a statement from Jacida Carter that God took his time when he made Lil Wayne. The song isn’t so much of Weezy bragging (He still does that) but it’s mixed with him counting his blessing. The pianos and singing used in the production makes it more reflective but nothing that really stands out.
Apparently this song used the same exact beat from another Lil Wayne song, “Bye Bae” featuring HoodyBaby. I never heard of this song until I started researching for this review so who knows. Looks like it’s been taking down on YouTube and other sites though.
16. Open Safe
Produced by DJ Mustard & Mike Free
Yeah, you heard the familiar drop at beginning of the song: Lil Wayne over DJ Mustard. At this point it feels like most of Mustard beats sound exactly the same. You’d think he’d send Wayne some more creative shit seeing that this is Tha Carter V. But no. And to be fair “Open Safe” isn’t a bad song, it reminds me of Weezy on “The Motto”, but it’s still boring. Smoke break included.
17. Start This Shit Off Right
Featuring Ashanti & Mack Maine; Produced by Mannie Fresh
As much as I love seeing Mannie Fresh & Lil Wayne reconnect, this song sounds dated as hell. Reportedly this was recorded for the original 2014 version of Tha Carter, but it’s sounds way older than that. The Ashanti feature doesn’t help matters. Maybe this was on purpose. Nah. Skip.
Produced by 808-Ray & Cool & Dre
The was surprised at the soulfulness of “Demon”, which is basically due the sampling of The Crowns of Glory Lord’s “Hold Me in Your Arms”. On the song Wayne raps about his demons whether it be himself, money, or women. It’s a couple of weird parts where Wayne raps off beat for some reason but it doesn’t ruin the song.
Produced by Infamous
Here Lil Wayne sings/raps about how his life is a mess mainly dues to his “bae”, his ex, his wifey, and his side bitch. Wayne lives a hell of a life but the song comes off silly. The song samples Jang hyunseung’s “Home” for those wondering. Meh.
20. Dope New Gospel
Featuring Nivea; Produced by R.I.O. & Kamo
I remember when Nivea announced that Lil Wayne had a song with her and Drake. Is this the song without the Drizzy feature? I have no idea but it sounds like something Drake would rap on. Either way, I didn’t mind it. The production is inspired. and props to Weezy for putting his ex/baby momma on a song.
21. Perfect Strangers
Produced by Mannie Fresh
After Mannie first outing on this project, I thought the worst for “Perfect Strangers” before even listening to it. Thankfully it’s a much better song than “Start This Shit Off Right” but that doesn’t save it from just being another song with Wayne Auto-Tune singing about another relationship. Next.
22. Used 2
Produced by Metro Boomin, Prince85, & Infamous
I don’t know if I like this song or if I’m just thankful for the break in the monotony. On “Used 2” Wayne raps for over a minute until the beats drop. He sounds extra excited which I guess is needed since we are on track #22:
I used to know you niggas, I don’t know you niggas
I just ignore you niggas, I don’t bro you niggas
With my bros will smoke you niggas, like we grow you niggas
Kill your ho too nigga, and your go-to niggas
You know what? I’m okay with this. We’re almost done too.
23. Let It All Work Out
Produced by Reefa, Jordan, & Myles William
One of the biggest stories off this album was Lil Wayne admitting the he had once tired to commit suicide (He previously said he accidentally shot himself with a gun as a teen). This is the song where that comes from:
I found my momma’s pistol where she always hide it
I cry, put it to my head and thought about it
Nobody was home to stop me, so I called my auntie
Hung up, then put the gun up to my heart and pondered
Too much was on my conscience to be smart about it
Too torn apart about it, I aim where my heart was pounding
I shot it, and I woke up with blood all around me
It’s mine, I didn’t die, but as I was dying
God came to my side and we talked about it
He sold me another life and he made a prophet
Like a lot of rap albums, “Let It All Work Out” ends Tha Carter V on an optimistic note. The success of the song owes much to the heavy use of Sampha’s “Indecision” and ends the project on a good note.
The last thing the listener hears is Jacida Carter saying “Love you, Dwayne”. It all worked out.
When Tha Carter V was first released, I heard a lot of different hard takes. Some people said it was classic and Lil Wayne’s best work of Tha Carter series, while others said it was average and didn’t live up to the hype. I actually understand both opinions. After everything it took to get to this album released, there was no way Tha Carter V was going to live up to the hype (It almost reached Detox levels). But the reason people were hyping it up so much is because they were happy for Wayne. The same reason why Tha Carter V is the #1 album on Billboard 200 (As of this writing) and had the second-biggest U.S. streaming debut ever. And seeing as how much Weezy has influenced this current generation of rappers, he deserves all those accolades.
But let’s not act like Tha Carter V is a classic. I don’t know where it’s fits in Weezy’s vast library, but it’s not near the top. I understand that this album has been in the works for at least six years but it’s too damn long at 23 tracks. I’m pretty sure that if some songs were left on the cutting room floor, this could be a way better album. I deleted too many songs from this album after this review was completed
Still, there is a part of me that is just happy that Tha Carter V exists and that people can listen to it. And in a way, actually releasing the album was all Lil Wayne had to do to win.