New Orleans rap label Cash Money Records entered the hip hop
scene in the late ’90s when Southern bounce was only
beginning to hit national radio airwaves. Its roster is mainly
known for being the originators of bling-bling rap, not talented
lyricists.

On the first single of his latest album, Tha Carter, Dewayne
Carter, better known as Lil’ Wayne, presumptuously ends the
song saying that he’s the “Best rapper alive / Since
the best rapper retired.” He is referring, of course, to
Jay-Z. Is Lil’ Wayne at the level of Hov? Hell no, but Wayne
might have partially closed the canyon-sized gap on Tha Carter.

Despite much of the flatness of subject matter on songs such as
“This is the Carter,” “Cash Money
Millionaires” and “Hoes,” every now and then
Lil’ Wayne can drop a clever rhyme or punchline. Lines like
“They tellin’ me I’m the shit / Like a nigga
don’t piss” and “My niggas call me little Russell
Crowe for my Beautiful Mind” from the song “Ain’t
That a Bitch” would bring a smirk to any hip hop head’s
face.

Lil’ Wayne’s Southern accent adds to his delivery on
tracks like “Tha Heat.” Nevertheless, this attribute is
limited by his sing-rapping, which makes much of the album sound
monotonous.

Wayne’s not-so-hidden weapon is producer Mannie Fresh. His
textured beats are the album’s highlight. “BM
J.R.” has heavy bass and drum with syncopated snare taps and
a dark melody filled with harp sounds and bell chimes in a minor
key. On “Go DJ,” he provides Lil’ Wayne with a
strong bass line, electronic synth sounds and hard-hitting drum
that complements Wayne’s lyrics about DJ Mannie and his Cash
Money partners-in-crime: “Birdman, put them niggas in a trash
can / Leave ’em outside of your door, I’m your trash
man.”

Although Lil’ Wayne shows some potential, this album is,
at best, average. Fresh does supply Wayne with decent beats, but
Wayne still has to step up his lyrical content and raise his
maturity. Beats alone don’t make an album.

Rating:  2.5 out of 5 stars.

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