Published Oct 03, 2018Since the release of Tha Carter IV in 2011, Lil Wayne has left fans clinging on to any hope that the quintessential rap series would continue. With health issues, drug addictions and family ties bring dragged through the ringer since The Carter V's original announce in 2014, what was to be expected from the surprise 23-track album was worrisome, but anticipated nevertheless.
Despite the added fat (i.e. "Perfect Strangers," "Mess," "Start This Shit Off Right"), Lil Wayne strips down to a more bare-bones version of himself, showcasing his discomforts, vulnerabilities and self-acceptance.
What becomes abundantly clear is Tunechi's need to dissect the relationships in his life ("What About Me," "Dark Side of the Moon"), and how, perhaps, they've been affected by his actions. It's a far cry from "Mrs. Officer," but a step toward healthy relationships that may not have existed before.
Relationships with women are at the forefront of Tha Carter V, including a desperate cry for help from his mother on "I Love You Dwayne," which leads into the sorrowful "Don't Cry," featuring a chorus from the late XXXTENTACION. As daughter Reginae Carter joins him on "Famous," a tale of the highs and lows of fame, ex-fiancée Nivea envelops "Dope New Gospel" with spiritual love — highlighting a contrast between material and religious attachment.
Despite the revelations, the album is not without its expected bangers. Lil Wayne breathes new life into Harlem classic "Special Delivery" on "Uproar," dosing it in a Harlem Shake before moving on to "Mona Lisa," which features a classically fired-up Tunechi and an Oscar-worthy performance from Kendrick Lamar. Similarly, Travis Scott walks Lil Wayne into the new school rap world, which he flawlessly adapts to on "Let It Fly."
But at the end of Tha Carter V, Lil Wayne reminds you that he's not perfect. As he expresses that his self-inflicted gun wound at 12 years old was not an accident ("Took His Time," "Let It All Work Out"), a tale he's told for years, he also reminds fans to look into the mirror and see both the good and bad of the person looking back at them. (Young Money/Universal)