Weezy F Baby and the F is for finally free.
After years of waiting Lil Wayne and Tha Carter V are finally free and we are ready for it. “We” meaning anyone who still cared about or was still in awe of Wayne’s paranormal run of monumental mixtapes, unforgettable features, and platinum-selling albums; and there are more of us than some might have initially thought. It’s a triumph that Tha Carter V even saw the light of day. Plenty of outlets have detailed the long road to C5 but the short version of the story is this: We were supposed to get the album in October 2014, when it was last delayed indefinitely.
The album is filled with surprises; acting as a bridge between Wayne’s World and contemporary rap. C5 is filled with features, including a Travis Scott feature and an eerie XXXTentacion feature (Wayne calls him “Triple Extensions”), to familiar faces such as Nicki Minaj and TPAB Kendrick Lamar- setting the booth on fire. Regardless of the point in his career you became acquainted with Wayne’s music, C5 is versatile and experimental enough for fans to be satisfied. “Start This Off Right” recalls “This Is the Carter” from the first Carter album. The refreshing Swizz Beatz produced “Special Delivery” clone “Uproar” is going to be the club anthem of the year and kicks this album into full gear. Snoop Dogg assisted “Dope,” which takes a big sample of “Xxplosive,” take us back to mixtape Wayne; when he was on a strict diet of rappers and beats. But unlike 2011’s relentlessly trend-chasing Tha Carter IV, on Carter V, Wayne finally gives himself permission to not always be the lead man. The record reaches it’s pinnacle when Wayne engages with his past, returning to the lower points in his life. In the theme of keeping with the past, Wayne reunites with Mannie Fresh on “Start This Shit Off Right,” accompanied by Young Money’s Mack Maine and a heavenly hook from Ashanti.
“I am not number one, it’s true I am 9-27-82,” he says in reference to his birthday on “Don’t Cry.” XXX and this song fit so perfectly, of course Wayne knew exactly how to use him on it. Talking about his trials and tribulations with his mom weeping, the chorus sung by XXX telling her “don’t cry” pulls at your heartstrings right at the beginning of the album. Nicki Minaj has one of the best features on this entire album because for once, the megastar puts herself in a vulnerable position and showcases her vocal talents as a singer on “Dark Side of The Moon”.
On “Mona Lisa” neither Wayne nor Kendrick let the song’s high concept get in the way of their ferocious rap skills. Referencing the ambiguity of Mona Lisa’s smile, the song finds Lil Wayne and Kendrick rapping the story of a deceptive woman who sets her man up for a robbery. On “Mona Lisa,” Weezy and Kendrick are giving us two sides of the story. The depth of this song goes much past the words, Kendrick Lamar takes his voice to different heights to express his side of the story. Although this song was on the tentative list for the release in 2014, it holds up as well as the songs that were recorded recently.
Throughout, Lil Wayne reminds us that he’s a 36-year-old father, not the eternally young man who once sung “I just want to fuck every girl in the world” at the height of his fame, or the teenager who chanted “Drop it like it’s hot” over the Triggerman beat. “Just got off phone with my son, told him you’re a son of a gun just got off the phone with my daughter, told her I won’t hesitate to fuck a young nigga up,” he rhymes on “Open Letter.” On the final track, “Let It All Work Out,” he tells the story of the moment he shot himself in the chest, explaining it was because his mother tried to prevent him from pursuing a rap career. (He also discussed his suicide attempt in poetic terms on Solange’s 2016 track “Mad.”) But the story also reads as a metaphor for Lil Wayne’s recent legal battles against his “father” Birdman.
On “Can’t Be Broken” Lil Wayne speaks on the various things he has built that are unbreakable from his career and the relationships he has created thus far. He takes this opportunity to take shots at his haters and people who thought he was finished as well. Here’s a fun fact about how the beat was chosen: Lunchmoney Lewis pitched the record to Mack Maine at a grocery store in Miami. He said he waited a couple months to play it for Wayne because he wanted him to be in the right mind-set. “What About Me” (the more sexy r&b song that was supposed to have either Post Malone or Drake on it) touches on Wayne’s love fora girl for who doesn’t love him back. “Problems” shows Wayne bragging about his wealth and his success, as well as rapping about the negativity that comes with being a millionaire like him. Wayne brags, ” if lovin’ me is wrong, I don’t wanna be right then, bitch, you hatin’ I’m never wrong, one time thought I was wrong and I was only mistaken.” On “Demon” Wayne destroys all his demons; fame, money, women and even himself. Weezy expresses that these demons will ultimately destroy him if he doesn’t deal with them first, which is the reason for his suicide attempts and vigorous drug use.
An issue that has plagued Wayne’s career is the inconsistency in tone of his work, but Lil Wayne finally manages to pull together an incredibly seamless album no matter the concept/mood of the songs. “Open Letter” is exactly what the title implies – an open letter to Lil Wayne’s peers, family and the world. With a verse lasting four and a half minutes, Wayne discusses a number of topics that have been on his mind starting with suicide and ending with the self hatred that let his mind go there. “Took His Time” highlights Wayne’s mom Cita’s statement on how God took his time to make Weezy. This also falls in line with the rest of the album where Weezy talks about his blessings. “Open Safe” sees Wayne teaming up with producer DJ Mustard. A classic DJ Mustard beat unleashes Wayne, rapping at his best throughout the track aside from a short “smoke break” after the first verse.
For as much as it has remade and redone in the last four years, one thing has remained the same since Tha Carter V was first announced: Its cover, a photo of a young Wayne with his mother Jacida. She lingers protectively over the entire album, narrating from the opening track and filling in Wayne’s life stories throughout the interludes. His eldest daughter Reginae sells a bittersweet hook on “Famous,” and his ex-fiancée Nivea graces us on the tale of redemption that it “Dope New Gospel.”
“Too much was on my conscience to be smart about it too torn apart about it, I aim where my heart was pounding,” he raps. It’s a powerful reveal, one he in effect waited years to share until he had found the right happy ending to frame it around, and it closes the record on a breath-stopping note.
What sets C5 apart from its other installments is its vulnerability. The overall takeaway from Tha Carter V, it turns out, isn’t that Wayne still has music this vital in him. It’s that after all these years, there’s still more to learn about him. Tha Carter family meshes together club anthems and an introspective look into Weezy’s life. This album brought out the best in Wayne’s talents and proves he is still top five material. After years of waiting Wayne is back to his roots where all that matters is the bars and beats. Tha Carter V gives us exactly what we needed, a powerful full length album that doesn’t miss a single beat.