DAR Hip Hop: Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III

By @_n8te

1. 3 Peat 
2. Mr. Carter featuring Jay-Z
3. A Milli
4. Got Money featuring T-Pain 
5. Comfortable featuring Babyface
6. Dr. Carter 
7. Phone Home 
8. Tie My Hands featuring Robin Thicke 
9. Mrs. Officer featuring Bobby V
10. Let The Beat Build 
11. Shoot Me Down 
12. Lollipop
13. La La
14. Playing With Fire 
15. You Ain't Got Nuthin 
16. Dontgetit 

Depending on the person, they will tell you that the year 2008 in Hip Hop was either decent or awful. To me, it was a decent year, and one reason for that is because of Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III. A backstory of Tha Carter III is that it was sort of a frustrating drop for Lil Wayne. That’s due to the many leaks in 2007 that forced the rapper to delay the album. Now moving on to the album, it’s considered Wayne’s best work by some critics. However, is their word true to how I personally feel about the album? Well there are some catchy singles here and there. When I listen to music, I like to hear the message and how it blends with the production. For sure, I expected to see energy in this project. Let’s start diagnosing this album in its entirety.

“3 Peat” is our opener track. As expected, we experience high-energy Lil Wayne vocals in a braggadocio style. The idea of the song is that Tha Carter series is his three peat with three successful projects and nothing feels as sweet as the third project. Lyrically, Wayne let it be known that no one is on his level,  and whether you agree or not, he makes a strong case. The wordplay is adequate, and I especially loved the “2 inches away from the casket line” and the meaning behind it.

The story here is Wayne talks from personal experience of him playing with a gun when he was younger. Unfortunately, he accidentally shot himself two inches away from his heart and had to be rushed to the hospital, but it taught him a lesson. So, the meaning behind the "2 inches from the casket" line is special in this regard. As far as the 3 peat aspect of the intro, I personally feel he compares the greatness of Tha Carter trilogy to resemble a Lakers 2000-2002 type of greatness.

I would prefer “Mr. Carter” as the opener of the album as this is a dark horse track on this album. It doesn’t sonically drive like the bangers on this album, but it’s very moving. This theme of passing the torch in which Lil Wayne believes that he is receiving the torch from the great Jay-Z. Lyrical wordplay from both artists is aesthetically pleasing to me and I do love the beat that layers this track especially as the track is ending. Beautiful echoing of a choir clapping along just feels heartwarming to me.

Of course “A Milli” is our next track. A notable song in his career, Lil Wayne of course slaughters lyrically with his verses underneath the ad-lib sample “A Milli” and droning sub bass. That Dennis Rodman faggot line is memorable and somewhat shocking. Not to mention, his flow on the track is as tough as "Nigerian hair" and he hits with more lines that connect, but there's one that just halts the song's momentum:

“Don’t play in her garden and don’t smell her flower/ Call me Mr. Carter or Mr. Lawn Mower/”

Sure, it makes sense but feels cringeworthy to me. It had such a good rhythm until I hear that particular line. Moving on, “Got Money” possesses more arrogance from Lil Wayne. Money, being in the club, and autotuned vocals is usual Lil Wayne having fun. He could afford to spend as much money as he wanted at the time, but to be honest, this song doesn't hit the mark. It’s an awful bland blend of autotune coming both from T-Pain and Lil Wayne. It’s not one of my favorite songs. This track had potential but just halts at the top like a rollercoaster before the drop.

“Comfortable” sways away from the feel of the previous two tracks with a smooth, almost pop beat. I love this beat produced by Kanye West here as the production suits it. “You Don’t Know My Name” is a sample in this track for the Alicia Keys fans who weren't aware. Babyface does a great job at the hook. Lil Wayne does a clever story with each verse. The first verse is a charming Wayne discussing how he can support his girl and there’d be no stressing. The final two verses is a confident Wayne knowing that if his lady leaves him, she could come running back because he may be the only man that she truly needs.

“Dr. Carter” is an underrated track. In summary, Lil Wayne is the doctor and he is here to survive the “dying” rap game, especially with a reference to Nas’ “Hip Hop Is Dead” album in the lyrics. I love the first verse that Lil Wayne drops, as it’s straight fire to me. Lil Wayne is not a stranger to criticism in the rap game and he silences everyone’s beliefs with a track like this. Well done.

“Phone Home” is one hell of an abstract song. However, it’s space-esque “War of the Worlds” haunting style doesn’t match up with the rest of the album. Lil Wayne claims to be an alien, which could mean that he is not like the rest of the rappers in the game, so to speak. The hook doesn’t quite match up with the rest of the song and I wish they altered the song a bit. I wish the overall reverb on the song was softened. It was harsh to my ears.

“Tie My Hands” slows the pace down with an emotional Wayne due to New Orleans suffering from Hurricane Katrina. Wayne throws the shots at George Bush in this track with Bush’s views on African Americans and Katrina with the idea of “powering through this tough time”. Robin Thicke's vocals are infectious on the hook and on the beat overall. “Mrs. Officer” is another notable track that people know Wayne for. The paces picks up at heart racing speed. Bobby Valentino shines with his ad-libs in the background and his infectious chorus that will have listeners lip syncing and learning the lyrics. Lil Wayne’s vocal delivery changes with a looser twist, but lines like this really just bring the song down:

“Breakfast in bed/
Turns into breakfast and head” 

Not really clever lyricism. Personally, I cannot listen to this song much anymore. I prefer something lyrically pleasing to the ears that has a wow factor and while the hook is infectious and catchy, the verses just don't do it for me.

“Let The Beat Build” is my favorite song on this album. We see Lil Wayne come out swinging on this track with a soulful beat from Kanye West and Deezle. The chorus from Wayne is so mellow and the ad-libs match with the downbeat of each sub bass. He brings the heat in that aggressive driven third verse. Speeding up the tempo of his flow shows his versatility, especially for a rapper known for a slower pace of lyricism but a few clever lines in the song drops a jaw here and there.

“Shoot Me Down” feels like an Eminem-esque song. It’s eerie guitar plucked vibes and chorus “Please Don’t Shoot Me Down” just feels chilling. Feels as if Lil Wayne is sitting on a throne and requesting not to be shot down by the competitors in the ever changing rap game. This track sways from the album as well, in terms of energy. “Lollipop" brings your energy up with that catchy hook again. I absolutely love how this track played out for Lil Wayne. Lil Wayne has fun with this track and is lyrically not giving his best, but you can’t ignore the beat in the second half of the song. It’s a boom-bap beat with 808 claps that are just way too driven to not enjoy. “La La” is another interesting track on this album. Busta Rhymes takes this song with his verse. We know Busta is more of a fast paced rapper, but he slows his flow down here and his verse is vocally delivered at a great rate, even though the lyrics lack some substance.

Then as we arrive to our last three tracks, we get a gem. “You Ain’t Got Nuthin” possesses more of a haunting beat with an aggressive yet soft-spoken Lil Wayne. “You Ain't Got Nuthin” is dope also as Juelz Santana and Fab drop some solid verses. Honestly, "Don’t Get It” was my least favorite track. It just feels out of place and doesn’t feel like it’s going anywhere special, despite the overused Nina Simone sample.  

I think Tha Carter III is a solid project. Commercially and sales wise his greatest work, but there are some things that poke out at me. This album could have you energetic and bumping to the “bangers” in Lollipop, Got Money, A Milli or have you a bit stoic in La La, Phone Home, and Dr. Carter. We do see dope lyricism from Lil Wayne and the features on the tracks and The production is good. Sometimes I feel as if we hype this album too much, due to its success and not the actual quality. I personally feel that the album is a bit overhyped. When speaking of the trilogy, I would prefer Tha Carter II instead to be very honest. This at times feels like a project that could have been ten times better than it originally is. Still a solid project, but leaves a bit to be desired.



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