x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Tha Carter III - Lil Wayne (Universal)

CD review Waleed K Hafeez is highly impressed by Lil Wayne's unrivalled style and flow - and his unique ear for melody. A roster of single-worthy tracks.

Then and now: <i>Tha Carter III</i> is Lil Wayne's latest hip-hop thriller.
Then and now: Tha Carter III is Lil Wayne's latest hip-hop thriller.

It's no surprise that the third and final album in Lil Wayne's Tha Carter trilogy has enjoyed unprecedented success on the music charts worldwide this year. Tha Carter III comes as a breath of fresh air through a smog of overproduced club tracks, pointless lyrics and copycat rappers. After a year of high profile R&B and hip-hop misses, Tha Carter III has been critically acclaimed and sold a million copies in its first week - a venerable feat in this day and age.

Having created a name for himself as the man to have listed on your single for a huge hit, Dwayne Carter Jr, alias Lil Wayne, has displayed once again that his style and flow are unrivalled and his ear for music is unique to boot. Though the album loses steam a little in the midsection, it is still well above average compared to a lot of what has been making the rounds on the radio. Tha Carter III comes very near to providing a roster of songs that are all single-worthy.

One of the best tracks on the album is the smash hit first single, Lollipop. The incredibly infectious song has dominated the airwaves since its release and has spawned a plethora of remixes. It's unlikely that catchier lyrics have ever been written, and anyone who's enjoyed the song has undoubtedly hummed it for days. Made especially memorable because of the singer's signature man-child voice (reflected ironically in the album's cover art) the song is a treat waiting in the second half of the album. However, the newest single, A Milli, is annoying at best due to the repetitive sample used to make the majority of its background beat. After a few seconds of listening to the track I was compelled to, on every occasion, skip to the next track. This was, however, nowhere near enough to dishearten me with the album.

A fun little surprise comes in the form of Comfortable. The song is produced by Kanye West but doesn't feature the rapper vocally, a rarity in recent times. It does, however, have Babyface providing support. He offers the song a wonderful vintage touch and takes the perceptive listener back to R&B/soul's golden age. From the get-go Lil Wayne ropes the listener in with a reinterpretation of Beyoncé's Irreplaceable. "To the left, to the left," Lil Wayne points out, is where his girl should move if she's taking him for granted.

Choosing a standout track is a fairly difficult task with this album, but after many listens I reached the conclusion that Tie My Hands deserves the honour. Produced, co-written and co-sung by Robin Thicke, the song has everything that I hoped the album would have: exquisite lyrics, deliciously simple music and a wonderful message. Speaking to Hurricane Katrina victims, the elegant song showcases Lil Wayne's ability to cloak an important social statement of overcoming adversity and helplessness in crisp verses and allows Thicke to coo in the background to his heart's content.

Phone Home is another worthy addition to the must-listen list. The song provides hip-hop fans the opportunity to put their fists in the air and bop along as Lil Wayne proclaims he's an extraterrestrial. Whether or not he is, the album is unlikely to be alien to awards this year, as Lil Wayne is bound to earn a mantleful for Tha Carter III.