Tha Carter V
Maybe more than any other rapper in history, Lil Wayne’s output is defined by franchises. An artist should be so lucky to sustain the kind of longevity that would allow for multi-volume phases the likes of Wayne’s Dedication, and Da Drought mixtapes, let alone the series that made him into a superstar, Tha Carter. Though Wayne was not without projects in between, some seven years were allowed to pass between the release of the fourth and fifth installments of the lattermost. Fortunately, Wayne has rewarded his fans’ patience with 23 tracks that speak to a number of his most storied eras. “Mixtape Weezy,” as Jay-Z famously coined, is alive and well on songs like the Swizz Beatz-produced “Uproar,” Wayne blacking out over a reinterpretation of G-Dep’s 2001 hit “Special Delivery.” The nostalgia doesn’t stop (or peak) there, as Wayne and Snoop Dogg share space over a flip of Dr. Dre’s “Xxplosive” on “Dope N*ggaz,” while Mannie Fresh revisits the Cash Money golden-era bounce of Juvenile’s “Ghetto Children” for “Start This Shit Off Right.” There are nods to the experimental Wayne of the I Am Not A Human Being projects (“Don’t Cry,” “Mess”) and also the rapper’s under-heralded pop wizardry (“Famous,” which features his daughter Reginae as hook singer), and even a love song built on a gospel sample, “Dope New Gospel.” In all, Tha Carter V is an album for anyone who’s missed Wayne—no matter which Wayne they’d missed.