Album review: Lil Wayne's 'Tha Carter IV'
You can trace the problems of “Tha Carter IV” to its track-listing. See the “Interlude” and “Outro,” two of its finest tracks, in which Lil Wayne is literally missing in action — an afterthought to a collection of decapitating raps from Tech N9ne, Bun B, Nas, Busta Rhymes and an unbilled Andre 3000.
Throughout the Wayne’s ninth solo album, the idiosyncratic drugged-out loon of his 2005-07 zenith is similarly AWOL. Gone is the purple-sipping and chronic-smoking satyr that slurred about being so high he could eat a star. The stream-of-consciousness id that Iggy Pop might once have envied is still on display, but here it feels corralled into a pen of predictable similes and metaphors.
Wayne’s first full-length since he was released from Rikers Island in November is more pedestrian than embarrassing. His rapping remains rambunctious and acrobatic, particularly on standout street singles “6 Foot, 7 Foot,” and the Rick Ross-assisted “John.” But where he once used his war-ravaged croak to ransack a beat’s pockets and scrounge them for every bit of lint, he seems content to calmly search for cash.
The rebel has been replaced by an industry standard-bearer, one willing to warble through the sub-(Taylor) Swiftian ballad “How to Love.” Equally frustrating are the hashtag rap gags that would make a Borscht Belter blush. On the “Intro,” he boasts he “hears no evil [and] sees no evil/Hellen Keller,” and the jokes only get more rotten-tomato-worthy from there.
For any other rapper, “Carter IV” would be respectable, if rote. But for the erstwhile Weezy F. Baby, the self-proclaimed greatest rapper alive, it seems like stasis — the “F” isn’t supposed to stand for forgettable.
-- Jeff Weiss
'Tha Carter IV'
Two and a half stars (Out of four)