Album: Tha Carter V
Label: Young Money/Cash Money
Producer: Vinylz, Boi-1da

It's been four years since Lil Wayne, on Birdman's "Money to Blow," told listeners not to worry about Cash Money's future because the label would be all right as long as they "put Drake on every hook." It was a little hyperbolic, but the formula has worked wonders. Tracks like "Right Above It," "With You," "I'm on One," "She Will," and others, all benefited from Drake's earworm penmanship. The Toronto kid couldn't miss. As he ascended the ranks, his mentor's career gradually slid downhill. Weezy dropped albums and mixtapes showcasing a complacent rapper unable to maintain the bleeding edge consistency displayed from Tha Carter to No Ceilings. Fans feared the guy who leapfrogged a number of legendary rappers to sit firmly in the top-five-dead-or-alive conversation had lost it.

"Believe Me" assuaged those fears. The first single from what is rumored to be Wayne's final solo album plays like a comeback. Drake assumes the role of host to the welcome-back party, rolling out the red carpet for his Big Homie. Over a haunting production by Boi-1da and Vinylz, Drake pledges allegiance to the Young Money leader before making it know that it's now their time to run the table ("It's our time, nigga/He left Rikers in a Phantom, that's my nigga"). Then the chorus hits, the beat falls away, you hear someone inhaling a blunt, and Lil Wayne appears. We're reminded that the 31-year-old Cash Money millionaire is still one of the best technicians in the game. One who is perhaps tired of running laps around the competition. He even says as much on the song: "Waitin' for someone to test me like a Harvard nigga." Even as Drake delivers two perfectly measured verses, it's Wayne who captivates. He rattles off line after line, each one a bit more clever than the last, culminating with this gem:

One finger, sliding cross my neck
Niggas know what that means like they deaf
Nigga, I'll fire this nina like it's her first day on the job and the bitch overslept

If Tha Carter V is indeed Wayne's last album, "Believe Me" is a great beginning to the end. —Damien Scott