Review: “Tha Carter V” is an instant classic

Tanner Owens

There are albums which take multiple listens through to truly appreciate and there are albums which are panned immediately. Then there is “Tha Carter V.”

The last “Carter” album came out in 2011, more than seven years ago. To put it in perspective, Snapchat had not yet been released to the public and Barack Obama hadn’t finished his first term as president. So it’s been a while.

After settling a lengthy legal battle with Cash Money Records and reconciling with mentor, Birdman, earlier this year, rap artist Lil Wayne was poised to release “Tha Carter V” at any moment. The wait proved to be worth it for this album, a masterpiece in every sense of the word.

Bolstering a massive 23 tracks, and clocking in at almost an hour and a half, the latest installment offers several shades of Weezy. Vintage Wayne can be found in “Uproar” and “Open Letter.” Those who flock to the long-delayed album looking for trap and rap-rock beats are met with “Let It Fly” featuring premier trap artist Travis Scott. “Problems” also fits the bill for a trap anthem.

Wayne shows off an unprecedented amount of production detail and maturity on this album, in stark contrast with his last album, the uninspired “I Am Not a Human Being II.”

Breaking through the trap-heavy songs is a vulnerability of which hasn’t been seen in past works from the rap artist. The intro, “I Love You Dwayne,” is an intimate voiceover from Wayne’s mother, Jacida Carter.

“You’s my rock, you’ve always been my rock, mama love you, I love you. You take care of me and my son and your brother, we never wanted for nothing,” Jacida Carter says on the call, crying.

The raw emotions felt in the audio made this album feel incredibly different compared to others. It made the rest of the album feel like a personal endeavor Weezy deeply cared about, and made it all the more enjoyable. The attention to detail is a breath of fresh air in a rap culture where lo-fi productions dominate.

“Used 2”, the second to last song of the album, ends with audio of his mother pondering as to whether Lil Wayne shot himself in the chest when he at 12 years old on purpose or on accident.

The rapper answers the question in the most powerful song of the album, “Let It All Work Out.”

“I found my momma’s pistol where she always hide it, I cry put it to my head and thought about it… I shot it, and I woke up with blood all around me,” said Wayne on the track.

The quality of the features list is not to be overlooked either. The late XXXTentacion, Wayne’s daughter Reginae, Nicki Minaj, Snoop Dogg and Kendrick Lamar all excel in their roles. The highlight feature goes to Lamar however with his firestorm of vocals on “Mona Lisa.”

The album jumps from solemn, intimate songs, to trap and everything in between without missing a beat. “Tha Carter V” wasn’t produced in 2013 and left on the shelf to drum up anticipation. The “How To Love” rapper spent the time listening to his peers and adapting to produce his best album to date.