Released September 28, 2018
“Thank God Weezy back. Order is restored, all is right with the world.”
On September 28th, the long-awaited, fifth addition in Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter series dropped. Weezy first teased this album in 2012, a year after Tha Carter IV drop, but encountered multiple issues with his label and his mentor, Birdman. It ended up in a lawsuit and Wayne became the owner of his record label, Young Money Records, which was originally a joint project with Cash Money Records. The 7-year period was hardly a break for Wayne, as he used this time to continue to develop the album. “Let It Fly” and “Mona Lisa” featuring Travis Scott and Kendrick Lamar, respectively, have older sounds while “Don’t Cry” has a feature from XXXTENTACION, an artist who was newer to hip hop.
As a long-time Weezy fan, listening to Tha Carter V was a nostalgic experience. While the song topics are a lot more melancholy and personal than previous Wayne albums, it still has the same, familiar sound showing that this is still the Lil Wayne who wants to prove that he is the best rapper alive. The Carter IV is still the superior album, but it is exciting to finally have some new Lil Wayne music with the same Wayne sound that I grew up on.
Wayne promotes a message about mental health by detailing his experience with attempted suicide at the age of 12 when his mom told him that he couldn't rap anymore. He had referred to his suicide attempt as an accident until now. The album includes his mom’s thoughts on this self-inflicted gun wound: “I still don’t know today, was he playing with the gun and was it an accident?” In the last track, “Let It All Work Out,” Wayne gives insight, not just to fans, but to everyone about what happened with that gun when he was only 12. Although the song is upbeat, the lyrics are strong and emotional.
“I tried compromising and went kamikaze.” - on "Let It All Work Out"
Tha Carter V is more intimate than any of the preceding Carter albums because of all of the dialogue from Weezy’s mother, a feature from his daughter, and these personal stories he shares.
The second track on the album, “Don’t Cry,” features the late XXXTENTACION on the chorus. This track is particularly somber with the late rapper’s feature and lyrics like “Bring me back to life. Got to lose a life just to have a life.” The song acts as a tribute to XXXTENTACION when Wayne raps, “and triple extension on my motherfuckin’ afterlife / Rest in paradise.”
Even though Tha Carter V includes sadder songs than we usually get from Lil Wayne, the album is not without its bops. “Used 2” has a slow, menacing beat but bumps. The third track, “Dedicate,” is a banger with ad libs from 2 Chainz which come directly from "Dedication," 2 Chainz’s song about Weezy.
"You tatted your face and changed the culture." - 2 Chainz on "Dedication"
“Dedicate” is about the impact Lil Wayne has had on hip-hop culture, with the typical hype and self-love that Weezy is known for: “I started this shit, they borrowed this shit. I thought of this shit, they thought it was it.” On “Let It Fly,” the fifth track, Wayne comes in with a quick, smooth flow that contrasts nicely with Scott’s heavy autotune. After spitting a verse in which he uses internal rhymes, “But front line, you crossed the line and you better know your lines,” he reminds everyone that he is the “best rapper alive.”