Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Lil Wayne isn't necessarily the greatest rapper alive, but he's definitely the most inconsistent. Depending on the verse and the song, he can sound like a track-devouring force of nature or a stoned amateur fumbling his way through the English language. Both Waynes show up throughout his feverishly anticipated new album, Tha Carter III. On the epic "Mr. Carter," Wayne smartly co-opts one of the only rappers who can match his sales, by tapping guest wordsmith Jay-Z for a hyper-soulful anthem that builds and builds to a devastating crescendo involving a choir and ecstatic handclaps. Just when it sounds like Wayne's on the verge of justifying his outsized swagger, he follows it with "A Milli," a maddeningly repetitive headache in hip-hop form that's downright unlistenable. Wayne's lyrics are all over the place, but there's a palpable sense of joy to his delivery that's infectious.


A deep vein of theatrical craziness courses through Tha Carter III. There's a lot of Jay-Z in his flow, but there's also a lot of Ol' Dirty Bastard. Wayne raps about being a Martian, jacks a catchphrase from E.T. on "Phone Home," gives new meaning to the phrase "Fuck The Police" on the Prince-style sex fantasy "Mrs. Officer," pretends that he's a doctor on "Dr. Carter," and ends what's sure to be one of the biggest albums of the year by sampling Nina Simone on a nearly 10-minute-long song that devolves into a stoned rumination on politics, drugs, and double standards. And it's addressed partially to Al Sharpton. Even by hip-hop's loopy standards, Wayne is a bizarre mega-star. Even when shamelessly exploiting the current craze for vocoder-style voice modulation on "Lollipop," he radiates a distinctly personal kink. He's the man of the moment, but the disc's best moments strive for timelessness and attain it.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter