Album of the Day — October 23
Lil’ Wayne — The Carter
The Carter is the fourth album by New Orleans native Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., aka Lil’ Wayne. It continues he march up towards hip-hop dominance.
The album debuted at #5 on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 116,000 copies in its first week.
It was just certified platinum (1 million copies sold) on September 25, 2020.
As he had previously, Lil’ Wayne partnered with producer Mannie Fresh, and it’s really Fresh that is the secret sauce. This is not to take anything away from Wayne’s ability and lyricism; it’s just that, with hip hop, it’s the beats and rhythm that initially pull you into The Carter and get your head bobbing.
[Fun Fact: Not only is The Carter a reference to Lil’ Wayne’s last name, but it’s also the name of the crack house in the 1991 movie New Jack City.]
The albums second single, “Go, DJ,” is a shout out to Mannie Fresh. While it’s catchy as hell, lyrically, it’s typically street violent:
- “Murder one oh one, the hottest nigga under the sun”
- “Pow, one to the head now you know he dead”
- “In your residence with Rugers to your dome
Like where the fuck you holding the coke, holding your throat, choke?
Well, you get the idea.
[Fun Fact: The video is set in a prison — the Mansfield Reformatory, where The Shawshank Redemption was shot.]
While Fresh’s indelible imprint is all over the album, one of The Carter’s many highlights is track three — “This is the Carter.” Not only is Fresh the producer here, but he supplies the uber-catchy chorus:
Ladies and gentlemen, pimps and players
Half-ass rappers and true rhyme sayers
This is the Carter, so hold onto your teenage daughter
Because this is the Carter
A lot more rich and a whole lot smarter
Wayne in ya brain, young Carter (all I can see is the time)
Wayne in ya brain, young Carter
Lyrically, maybe these are NOT the most woke lyrics, but this was 2004, and the concept of “woke” wasn’t on anyone’s radar. Furthermore, let’s be honest; hip hop isn’t necessarily the most “woke” musical genre.
ANYWAY, there is something about this song that gets you moving. Your head and feet will start moving before you realize what’s happening.
What makes this song interesting is that it has the verse-chorus-verse structure of a traditional pop song. While not terribly unique in hip hop by the time, what The Carter does is that it does it really well.
The marriage of pop and hip hop here is done so well in fact, that The Carter generated four sequel albums.
- Christian Hoard in Rolling Stone said: “Most of Wayne’s fourth album is filler that Lil Jon has made obsolete, but on more than a handful of tracks, Mannie Fresh’s beats jump like they used to and Wayne’s syrupy drawl sounds more dextrous than ever.”
- In USA Today, Steve Jones wrote: “Weezy maintains the energy of his teen years, but his flow is deeper now and maybe a bit more intense. With the help of Manny Fresh’s bass-driven funk, Wayne takes you on a tour through his life as a well-heeled young hustler. The street themes and boastful banter are familiar, but he keeps things moving with witty deliveries and a few change-ups, such as the lament I Miss My Dawgs. It seems that he is no longer content simply to live large. He is ready to take charge.”
The Carter opened the floodgates for Lil’ Wayne and made the world take note.