Review #370: Tha Carter II, Lil Wayne

Karla Clifton
3 min readApr 8, 2023

#370: Tha Carter II, Lil Wayne

TWO rap albums in a row? Don’t hurt yourself, Rolling Stone!

Actually Lil Wayne’s rap album is very different from Mobb Deep’s album — we went from Nineties cerebral rap to early Aughts maximalist rap. From Timbalands and bandanas to drippy jewelry and pants hung around under boxers. (That’s right, the jeans hanging around the ankles is Lil Wayne’s doing. Honestly — don’t hate — it’s kind of a look.)

Saying that Lil Wayne’s reputation precedes him is an understatement. He apparently “accidentally” shot himself in the chest at the tender age of twelve, and he may or may not be in the Bloods. Also, I believe he’s a functioning cough syrup addict.

But when we talk about people who changed the musical landscape in the 2000s, Lil Wayne might be at the top of the list. His froglike croak is maybe the most instantly recognizable flow in rap — “Tha Mobb” put me right back in that Lil Wayne headspace. And everyone in my generation can quote “Money On My Mind,” even if they can’t place where it comes from: Fuck bitches, get money.

Lil Wayne basically introduced the idea of 2000s swagger. It’s so incredibly confident to use the same beat on three different songs — “Fly In,” “Fly Out,” and “Carter II” — a stately piano track that Wayne turns into profane grand statements. (As RS says, this move makes Weezy “like a Michelin-starred chef using every part of the animal.” They are so funny sometimes.)

Wayne doesn’t produce on this record, but he’s smart enough to collaborate with enough genius producers that every one of his songs are so unique. He raps over The Supremes (“Mo Fire”), raps without the anchor of a hook (“Oh No”), raps over Iron Maiden (“Best Rapper Alive”), and even raps over Robin Thicke on the weirdest track ever (“Shooter”). And he paves the way for other 2000s swagger rappers with the needly laser beat on “Fireman,” which I cannot get out of my head no matter how hard I try.

Speaking of that song — Lil Wayne spends some more time on the record than I expected talking about his drug dealing past (and present?). “Hustler Musik” is allegedly his favorite of his own songs, but I prefer “I’m A Dboy.” I know drug dealing is bad and all, I just like the fact that all songs about drug dealing are really songs about money.

Money and fear, that is: Wayne seems to want to intimidate everyone in his path. (See “Lock And Load” and “Hit Em Up.”) On the flip side, there are some genuinely sweet moments. I love “Receipt,” where he shyly begs a girlfriend to come back to him. “Grown Man” isn’t exactly sweet, but it’s got its moments. “Get Over” is a genuine tearjerker, with Wayne rapping about the people in his life that he’s lost, and how he honors their memory. The line that got me was I pray everytime I cross the spot on the pavement.

This album is an hour and seventeen minutes long, rivaling Drake for unnecessary length, and not every song felt necessary — particularly the skits, “On Tha Block #1, #2 and #3.” Unlike Mobb Deep’s skits/interludes, which felt vital to the tone of the album, these ones felt absolutely dispensable. It doesn’t help that Weezy is mumbling. But I guess if we can’t take him at his most peanut butter mouthed, we don’t deserve him.

Most Delightful Colloquialism: “Weezy Baby.” Not my favorite song, per se, but I did love the line Sweet succotash, gee golly, what the fuck.

Least Favorite Song: “Feel Me,” in which Wayne condescends to an imaginary reporter. I can only imagine how condescending he would be to me, a lowly blogger.

Review #369: The Infamous, Mobb Deep

Review #371: Anthology, The Temptations