Da Drought 3 recalls a time when calling Lil Wayne the "Best Rapper Alive" was perfectly justifiable. The mixtape is a one-of-a-kind behemoth with Wayne demolishing the most popular instrumentals of the time beyond recognition. Seriously. No one remembers "King Kong" by Jibbs or "Mr. Jones" by Mike Jones, but their beats have been immortalized by Wayne's otherworldly flows, non sequiturs, and braggadocio.

Wayne even marks his territory on instrumentals whose original versions matter in the context outside of Da Drought 3. "Upgrade" disregards all the pop sheen on Beyoncé and Jay-Z's hit in favor of over four minutes of spastic delivery from Lil Wayne, where everything from Apollo Creed to the Toronto Maple Leafs get their due shine in one of the track's many punchlines. DJ Khaled posse cut "We Takin' Over" gets re-appropriated for a solo remix in which Wayne asserts, "Damn right, I kiss my daddy," in response to the leaked photo of him kissing Birdman, effectively ending much of the discussion surrounding the image, in the slickest way possible.

Six years later, Da Drought 3 stands as a project that blessed and haunted Lil Wayne's career with equal weight. It's so prolific a mixtape that it confirmed all of the hyperbolic claims being tossed around by the press, and the rapper himself, but it also set the bar so unbelievably high for his subsequent efforts. Never again will we get to hear someone rap, "It's going down like there's a whale in the boat," and actually make it work. For better or for worse. —Ernest Baker

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