Lil Wayne, Tha Carter IV (2011)
Label: Young Money/Cash Money/Universal Republic
Saving grace: "John" f/ Rick Ross
Clunker: "How To Love"
Tha Carter IV's first mistake was its name. It shouldn't have been the fourth installment in the Carter series, the preceding three were classics and the name alone set the expectations too high. Almost inevitably the album was a disappointment. It lacked the innovative edge of its three forefathers.
But still, it was seen as Wayne's comeback album after he served a prison bid for gun possession. Plus, after dropping a misguided rock album, Rebirth, it was seen as a return to form for New Orleans rapper. Yet, on the album itself, Wayne wasn't doing anything new and he wasn't doing what he had always done as well as before.
It's telling that one of the album's best songs, "Outro," features exactly no Lil Wayne and is significantly better than Wayne's take on the same beat. Would this album have been as much of a disappointment if it was titled I Am Not a Human Being II? Probably not. But Wayne gave it the Carter name so it had to live up to something that it couldn't. It's kind of like the Marcus Jordan of hip-hop albums.—Max Goldberg