"He’s a punch-line rapper who rarely thinks about his lines beyond the rhyming couplet. Coherent verses are a rarity, coherent songs even more so. And his choice of words often feels arbitrary; he’s not obsessed with picking the right ones or the most important ones or the most revealing ones.
“So misunderstood, but what’s the world without enigma?” he asks on “6 Foot 7 Foot,” setting himself up for a chance at self-excavation. The second half of that couplet? “Two bitches at the same time, synchronized swimmers.” Oh well."
This is part of the review for the Carter IV. I will admit that I have not heard it yet but I thought this was interesting.
There goes Lil Wayne, wearing bleached leopard-print skinny pants — women’s pants, as it happens — and stalking the stage of the MTV Video Music Awards with Iggy Pop attitude. There goes Lil Wayne, riding a skateboard and falling off. There goes Lil Wayne, who can’t sing worth a lick, taking a ballad, “How to Love,” into the Top 10 of the Billboard pop chart.
Judging by his behavior in recent months, rapping seems to be the furthest thing from Lil Wayne’s mind, odd behavior from the person who is ostensibly the most popular rapper in the country. This week he released “Tha Carter IV” (Cash Money), which is on track to have the second-biggest opening sales week of the year, behind Lady Gaga (and notably ahead of Jay-Z and Kanye West’s collaborative album, “Watch the Throne”).
That it’s the least memorable Lil Wayne album in years might not matter, least of all to Lil Wayne, who since his release from jail last November after serving eight months on gun charges has taken his idiosyncratic ascent to the pinnacle of hip-hop in ever odder directions.
He is our strangest hip-hop superstar, and maybe the last antiaspirational one: he’s the one who won’t harp at length about his watches and cars, the one who still thinks it’s acceptable to record a rap-rock album (last year’s “Rebirth”), the one who became more famous the more he rapped about turning into a Martian.
In retrospect, Lil Wayne’s dizzying mixtape output from 2006 to 2007, when he was at his most bizarre, most confusing and most prolific, set an almost impossible standard, one that he has failed to live up to for the last couple of years.
“Tha Carter IV” shows off those flaws, highlights them even, if only because everyone is looking so closely. On a handful of songs, particularly “President Carter” and “Megaman,” he raps as if something were still at stake. He can still toss off a neat double entendre (“I ain’t working with a full deck/But I deal,” on “It’s Good”) or a hilarious left-field insult (“You’re dead to me, brown grass,” he raps on “President Carter,” which amusingly samples the inauguration of Jimmy Carter), but mainly, this is Lil Wayne at his laziest or most uninterested.
He’s a punch-line rapper who rarely thinks about his lines beyond the rhyming couplet. Coherent verses are a rarity, coherent songs even more so. And his choice of words often feels arbitrary; he’s not obsessed with picking the right ones or the most important ones or the most revealing ones.
“So misunderstood, but what’s the world without enigma?” he asks on “6 Foot 7 Foot,” setting himself up for a chance at self-excavation. The second half of that couplet? “Two bitches at the same time, synchronized swimmers.” Oh well.
That reluctance matters quite a bit, actually. Lil Wayne’s been through so much in the last two years, and examined almost none of it in song. In a couple of places he refers to his recent jail term — “John,” “How to Hate” — and on “Nightmares of the Bottom,” there are flickers of reflection: “I’m a gangster by choice/ I hope my sons choose wiser.”
Maybe the most gnomic boast is on the hit “She Will,” on which he declaims, “I’ve been at the top for a while/And I ain’t jumped yet.” Statement on the pressures of fame? Workaday boast combined with cheap imagery? We’ll never know.
Vintage Lil Wayne was the equivalent of speaking in tongues, words flying in unexpected directions, in unlikely combinations. But those were the syrup-sipping years. Sobriety is a condition of Lil Wayne’s probation, and it appears that the lucid Lil Wayne has less interest in bending words into strange shapes.
In recent years, but especially on this album, he’s become the least quotable great rapper, with lines that land harder more because of his voice than because of his wit, which was once prodigious. Because Lil Wayne has been so sharp, so dexterous in the past, it’s tempting (and ultimately necessary) to overanalyze him. But even on this album’s weak tracks, and there are several, he remains a commanding presence, deploying just enough of his insistent croak to tether the song together. He doesn’t bother appearing on two of the best tracks on the album, “Interlude” and “Outro,” which are instead full of eager guests.
read more at NYTIMES
By JON CARAMANICA
Published: August 30, 2011