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Lil Wayne is Hip-Hop's ideal protagonist from Homer’s Odyssey. Like Wayne, Odysseus’ tale took on many trials. His journey began after winning the Trojan War by hiding in a wooden horse. This groundbreaking idea started the actual story, which quickly turned from a tale of power and success, into a struggle to return home. After leaving Troy, Odysseus encountered a number of problematic events before returning to Ithaca twenty years after his battle in Troy. His journey and the overall task of making it back to his beautiful wife Penelope shaped his future, because while he was gone, Penelope assumed her husband was dead.
Wayne’s journey began after Tha Carter 3 hit the world like a Trojan horse. This unsuspecting triumph took on the role of hip-hop’s the Dark Side of the Moon. Soon after that though, Wayne departed from this success into a rough journey that depleted any credibility he once had. Fans once euphoric praise of his music was quickly followed by an unwanted side affect. That side affect was Rebirth. Like Odysseus, after Wayne won the battle, he landed into a series of casualties that proved he hadn't won the war. It showed that he wasn't a titan after all, but in fact a simple rapper with a talent for making fun records. Once he forgot this about himself, Mr. Carter encountered the Sirens, and was attracted to a false sense of superiority which he fell victim to.
Luckily for his fans though, Lil Wayne has finally found his way out of that muck and made it back to Ithaca. Tha Carter 4 is the fourth installment in Wayne’s titular series and its sound, style, and overall entertainment value is the best he's come up with yet. “This is Wayne’s world, and ya’ll are just tourists,” is exactly what the rapper accomplishes in his latest effort, because not only does he drive the listener to his world, he drops us off directly at the epicenter. Wayne utilizes the same formula he's previously implemented on the other Carter efforts and it works perfectly here with the added bonus of this album still being uniquely its own.
Most notably, songs like “Intro,” “Interlude” and “Outro” grab audiences by the ears. The record's novel style book markers section off each movement in Tha Carter story. The tracks stride along swiftly, segueing in and out of infectious beats, catchy choruses, and fun lyrics that add upon his catalog of famous one-liners. Wayne brings you into his world, but it’s the use of his old formula that takes advantage of his talent. Unlike Rebirth, which delved way too deeply into experimentation, Tha Carter 4 keeps his eccentric vision grounded to reality. In the meanwhile, this record ends up being far more accessible to a wider audience. He still mentions his famous themes, like smoking weed, getting drunk, and in almost every song, his overall persona, but Wanye uses these trite ideas in a manner that's unique. His music puts us on that same level of euphoria tha first three Carter albums so effortlessly do without getting trampled over by selfish indulgence.
Songs like “6 Foot 7 Foot” and “President Carter” nod to his past, but the tracks also usurp his older works with infectious beats and unique sampling. With sampled songs like “Day-O (The Banana Boat Song)" by Harry Belafonte, Mr. Carter gives his listeners a number of reasons to return to this installment again and again. Even when T-Pain, Nas, Busta Rhymes, John Legend and Drake making appearances, the record never falls on its head. If, for anything else, because it holds onto that fun and overall child-like playfulness that made his records, besides the past two non-Carter efforts, worthwhile.
The reason why The Carter 4 works and Rebirth, or even I Am Not a Human Being doesn't, is because his trademark confidence returns. After sifting through a series of failures and enduring multiple trials along the way, Wayne has finally found his sound again. The sirens attractive glare for indulgence pushed this rapper towards egotism, but it took a horrible rap-rock album to show that he is not immortal. Tha Carter 4 goes back to his roots for entertaining over experimenting, and that’s exactly what we wanted in the first place. Wayne might have won the Trojan War with an unsuspecting wooden horse, but he’s finally learned that just because you have won the battle, it doesn’t mean you’ve won the war.
Tha Carter 4's similarity to previous LPs stops it short of being an all-time classic, but the record actually makes a good effort to stay original and provide his fans with what they’ve come to expect. And there’s nothing wrong with that, because I’d rather have him make the same old fun, ridiculous music he’s made all along. I give Lil Wayne’s The Carter 4 a 4 out of 5.
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