Sorry for the Wait: The Complicated Journey to Lil Wayne's 'Tha Carter V'

Six years of lawsuits, feuds, videos, tweets, and almost anything else you can imagine have finally come to an end—we think.

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Photography by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for BACARDI
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It took more than six years, a few lawsuits, and countless missed release dates, but Tha Carter V is almost here. Lil Wayne’s very-long-awaited album was announced this week, with a release date of Friday, Sept. 28, and Weezy F. Baby fans couldn’t be happier. The album is the latest (and, if you believe Wayne’s many, many proclamations, the final) chapter in his Carter series, which has taken him from being “the young one in the Hot Boys” to Best Rapper Alive to a key influence on today’s stars. The last installation of the Carter series arrived back in 2011, an eternity in rap time. We’ll find out very soon if Wayne’s still got it. But until then, retrace the (many) important steps on the road to C5.

July 1, 2012: The First Announcement

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Nov. 21, 2012: His Last Album

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Oct. 18, 2013: The Tweet, Record Exec Edition

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— Drizzy (@Drake) February 10, 2014

"Carter V May 5th, that's all we focused on." - @Drake

— Word On Road (@WordOnRd) February 15, 2014

Drizzy, while performing in the Big Easy during NBA All-Star Weekend, makes a big announcement. The Boy brings Wayne onstage, and additionally says that C5 is coming out on May 5.

March 21, 2014: The First Denial

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Cortez Bryant, Wayne's manager, denies the May 5 date. He explains, in what should have become a mantra to every party involved: "I'm not going to release that date until I really, really, really know when it really, really, really is.”

Carter V season begins #carterV

— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) April 29, 2014

Kobe Bryant posts an image on social media that a lot of people assume is C5 cover art. More people think this when Wayne himself reposts Kobe’s IG post on Twitter with the caption “Believe me.”

April 30, 2014: The Champ Is Here

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May 6, 2014: First Single Released

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Fader puts out an interview with Soulja Boy, who says that he and Justin Bieber were working on the album in Miami. SB also claims he has two beats on the record.

That same day, Tha Carter V’s first single, “Believe Me” f/ Drake, is released and serviced to radio.

May 15, 2014: Wayne Drops D'usse Anthem

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Wayne puts out the track “D’usse,” which is reportedly also on C5.

"We're actually working on The Carter V." - @manniefresh on working with @lilwayne #MicrophoneCheckLive

— Microphone Check (@FrannieandAli) May 20, 2014

During an interview with NPR’s Microphone Check, Mannie Fresh says that he’s working on the album. If true, this would be the first time he’s collaborated with Weezy in a decade.

May 28, 2014: “Side Bitch”

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Wayne has taken to releasing “Weezy Wednesday” vlogs. On this one, he previews a tune called “Side Bitch,” produced by DJ Scoob Doo. The song, Wayne claims, will be on C5.

June 3, 2014: ‘It Just Sounds Better’

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June 17, 2014: Mike Will Made-the-Album

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Producer Mike Will Made-It stops by The Breakfast Club and reveals that he has three songs on the album.

June 25, 2014: Goin’ “Krazy”

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On another Weezy Wednesday vlog, Wayne shares a snippet of a song called “Krazy” that he says is a “Carter V leak.” The following day, he puts out the full song. It’s released as a single on July 2, and a video drops a little over a month later.

July 1, 2014: The Second Release Date(s)


While talking to future Everyday Struggle host Nadeska Alexis for MTV, Wayne throws out a whole bunch of options for the album to come out. It might be released, he says, “in September or August… It might drop before then, in July… August 25, or something like that.”

Aug. 8, 2014: Keep “Grindin”

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Weezy releases the Drake collab “Grindin,” the cover art for which was shared by none other than Kevin Durant. The track, the album’s third single, hits radio on Aug. 26.

Aug. 14, 2014: Another Release Date

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Aug. 24, 2014: DJ Mustard on the Beat

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Oct. 27-28, 2014: The Pushback and the Revamp

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Wayne tells on Oct. 27 that the record has been pushed back. He is, the site says, “currently working on a new release date.”

The following day, Wayne puts out a video (which you can see above) saying that, because he has so many great songs, he’s now dividing the album into two parts, the first of which is dropping on Dec. 9. Weezy F. also takes the opportunity to tease a new L.O.X. collaboration called “Gotti.”

Nov. 23, 2014: Single No. 4

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To all my fans, I want u to know that my album won't and hasn't been released bekuz Baby & Cash Money Rec. refuse to release it.

— Lil Wayne WEEZY F (@LilTunechi) December 4, 2014

Wayne pens a stunning series of tweets. He says that Birdman and Cash Money "refuse to release" Tha Carter V and that he is a "prisoner."

Dec. 12, 2014: Mack Maine Weighs In

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Wayne’s longtime right-hand man Mack Maine tells Miami’s 99 Jamz that the album will “for sure” be coming out in the first quarter of 2015.

Jan. 28, 2015: The Lawsuit

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Wayne sues Birdman and Cash Money for a whopping $51 million. He claims, among other things, that the label has held back money he's owed for Tha Carter V.

Sept. 14, 2015: It’s Finished?

Weezy sits down with Cari Champion for the Be Honest podcast. He says that the album is “finished” and that he’s working on “a comfortable deal” to put it out.

May 2, 2016: ‘I Would Never Stop Him From Doing Nothing’

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Birdman gives an interview to Hot 97 in which he denies that he is holding back the album.

“Me not putting out Tha Carter V—why wouldn’t I? I’ve got a lot of money invested into Young Money and Wayne,” he explains. “So for me, I want to get some of mine’s back...I think the world deserve Tha Carter V...Wayne is a boss. He his own boss...I would never stop him from doing nothing. He’s still putting out records. I could stop that shit if I wanted to, but I ain’t gonna stop him from hustling. We in this for the money, man. We rap for the money.”

May 13, 2016: ‘Lord, Free ‘Tha Carter’’

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Chance the Rapper releases Coloring Book, which contains the Wayne-featuring “No Problem.” “Lord, free Tha Carter,” Weezy raps. “Niggas need Tha Carter...And if that label try to stop me/There gon' be some crazy Weezy fans waitin' in the lobby.”

Sept. 14, 2016: Birdman Says He Doesn’t Have the Album

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After months of Wayne insulting Cash Money publicly, Birdman fires back. He can’t put out Tha Carter V, he says, because he doesn’t have it—Wayne kept the music to himself to use as leverage in their legal battle.

Oct. 13, 2016: Google That

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During an appearance on the Rap Radar podcast, Cortez Bryant shares that at one point there was a deal with Google to release Tha Carter V for free, but that Cash Money “didn’t get it,” so the idea was nixed.

Dec. 23, 2016: Do You Even Pharma, Bro?

Martin Shkreli leaks a song that he claims is from Tha Carter V, and that he further claims is about him. He would leak two more songs, one featuring Kendrick Lamar, the following May. After the second leak, Wayne threatened to sue. The Daily Caller’s Alexis Pfeiffer claims that Shkreli got the music because Wayne left a CD in a car he sold. The buyer in turn sold the music to the Pharma Bro himself.

Almost a year after the initial leak, Shkreli’s Weezy recordings are listed as assets that could be seized to pay back the government after being convicted of fraud.

Jan. 6-7, 2017: Definitely Coming Out?

Lil Wayne and Birdman

April 28, 2017: It’s the Roc, Maybe

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Wayne closes out a concert by saying, “C5 coming soon. Fuck Cash Money. It's the Roc.”

July 5, 2017: In Tune We Trust

Weezy drops a surprise EP called In Tune We Trust, claiming that he’s “STILL trying to fight for my independence… #freeC5.”

The very next day, Wayne files an amended petition in court. He seeks, in addition to $40 million and the liquidation of Cash Money’s assets, the ability to put out Tha Carter V in whatever form or fashion he wants.

Aug. 5, 2017: ‘‘C5’ Is F*cking Crazy’

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Aug.16, 2017: ‘I Can Do What I Want at Any Time’

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Wayne sits down with Wild Wayne from New Orleans station Q93. He says that “of course” Tha Carter V is coming out—it’s just a matter of how.

“I just don’t want to put it out the wrong way,” he says. “Honestly, I can do what I want at any time. The fans deserve it to be right, and that’s how it’s gonna be. I’m gonna make sure it’s right. I can drop whatever I want to drop. That’s why I keep dropping whatever I want to drop. But I’m not gonna give them Tha Carter V the wrong way.”

June 7, 2018: The Legal Battle Ends

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Reports come in that Wayne and Birdman have settled their legal dispute, finally clearing the way for the release of C5.

June 23, 2018: The Meeting

During a show at a club in Miami, Wayne drops hints about the album.

“Just to let y’all know, I had a meeting today,” Weezy tells the crowd. “It wasn’t a long meeting. Just so y’all know, the meeting was about the release date of Tha Carter-fucking-V.”


Put them 5s up ‼️‼️‼️

— Mula (@youngmoney) September 12, 2018

A tweet by Young Money sharing what is believed to be—but is not—the album’s cover art is widely misinterpreted (exactly why is unclear, though it may have something to do with Floyd Mayweather), leading many to believe that Tha Carter V will drop on Sept. 21. The day passes with no album.

Sept. 25, 2018: It’s Here, Almost

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In a video, Wayne announces that Tha Carter V will finally be available on his 36th birthday, Sept. 27, 2018 (the label quickly clarifies that it will actually drop at midnight on Sept. 28). The video shares the cover art first seen on ESPN back in 2014.

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