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Lil Wayne
Tha Carter IV Tom Watson , September 6th, 2011 12:52

"They say we learn from mistakes, that's why they mistake me..." gargles Lil Wayne like a busted irrigation system on Tha Carter IV's 'Blunt Blowin''. Given that Lil Wayne was unmistakably convicted for carrying a 40-calibre pistol on his person while toking on some sensimilla in public, it's an audacious statement. That clichéd mistake cost him eight months in Rikers Island prison, reduced from the intended year due to 'good behaviour', which was laughably interpreted as working out and reading the Bible. So one can only really assume the moral lessons 'learned' equated to reciting Psalms and bench press sessions reaching the hundreds. Yet Cash Money Records clearly believed the 28-year old's affirmations in Tha Carter IV would be an unmistakable world-consuming success - which it no doubt already is. The record has been three years in waiting, and has defied a throng of weak, banal mixtapes and the refinements of a prison penitentiary. Not at all bad for a 5.5 foot gangster battling with permanent symptoms of glandular fever.

Initially, the record was suggested to be released as a double-disc with 2010's Rebirth, a crass, hackneyed collection of humdrum, hillbilly 'rock' tunes. Lil Wayne refused, insisting that 'Tha Carter IV deserves Tha Carter IV.' As undeniably reassuring as this proposes itself to be, Tha Carter IV is as memorable and longstanding as a dissipating cloud of spliff smoke from a cross joint. The Carter collection has evolved with each release since the first was released in 2004, culminating in the shining glory of the III instalment, a two times platinum force of nature that was effortlessly crude and desperately addictive. Now comes the follow-up: 18 tracks filled with conceptually accessible ideas, executed moderately well yet lacking the syrupy controversy of his prior exploits.

Having already released in 2010 the big, bass contagious blares of '6 Foot 7 Foot', which unfurled the skyscraper-high expectations of Lil Wayne's return, a worldwide audience anticipated swagger without Rebirth's stab at Jagger. Yet the final product of Tha Carter IV assimilates to a dozy batch of mediocre bores, intertwined with a small supply of well-crafted, radio friendly singles. Ultimately, it is a lazy rap record that still has had the right to unplug President Carter's bottomless piggy bank.

Praying that the swung beat of III's 'A Milli' still maintains its strong, populous state of bump'n'grind sashay, Lil Wayne reiterates the same trudging pace throughout Tha Carter IV. 'Megaman' sounds like a more aggressive, rejected demo version of 'Lollipop', and 'Abortion' like a less funny, less impish 'Bitch Named Nina'. Club crazy they may be, but their durability is as long as it takes for Rihanna to release a new album.

Nonetheless, production has the potential to prevail on the odd occasion. The depressing swoons of 'She Will', bettered by the monkish, velveteen notes from Drake, who overshadows Lil Wayne both metaphorically and physically. The humorous R&B vibes of 'How to Hate', accompanied by the human vocoder, T-Pain. The soulful whines of John Legend backing up Lil Wayne's undisciplined wordplay. All featured artists at the top of their games, masterfully dominating their segments, leagues above Tha Carter IV's comparatively tired host.

Tha Carter IV promotes itself as Lil Wayne's first record since his release from Rikers Island. But this novelty wears and tears after its first run through. Eyes roll and sighs frequent during the boringly poppy 'How to Love' and the equally ostentatious as unoriginal 'President Carter'. Lil Wayne's hip hop is slowly sounding stale like a cling filmed bag of dried chronic buds. Tha Carter IV's payoff is entirely lost by the lack of Nicki Minaj and loomed over by the pending release of Drake's upcoming material. Wake up Lil Wayne, you're not in jail anymore.