“I lost my mind, it’s somewhere out there stranded,” declares rapper Lil Wayne on his single “6 Foot, 7 Foot” from his most recent studio album. Listening to the album, called “Tha Carter IV,” I concede that Wayne is probably right: He’s lost his mind.
Perhaps Wayne was too concerned with his untouchable stature in the rap industry to really care about the result of his ninth studio album, because it’s evident something more interesting took priority during its development. Consequently, the album lacks anything remotely memorable.
“Tha Carter IV” serves one purpose: to be Wayne’s ninth album, and just that. Fans hoping for lyrical epiphanies and innovative beats will unfortunately be dissatisfied. But the album does not entirely disappoint. Wayne did something right in choosing his radio singles. The songs “6 Foot, 7 Foot,” “John” (feat. Rick Ross) and “How to Love” are not only the most radio-friendly tracks, but in most cases also illustrate Wayne’s best efforts.
“How to Love,” however commercially successful and overtly popular, is the strangest “rap” phenomenon I’ve encountered as a listener. It’s hard to find a place for the track on “IV” and it’s even more bizarre to think it was chosen as a single. It strays far away from Wayne’s usual self-glorifying rap banter, but somehow, it works. Consider this: “How to Love” has been a strong presence on the iTunes Top Songs chart for weeks now, and though it’s experimental and different, it projects an intriguing message. “How to Love” depicts a girl with distorted perceptions of love, who is insecure due to past romantic experiences that fell short. “You had a lot of crooks trying to steal your heart / never really had luck, couldn’t ever figure out how to love,” Wayne raps.
It’s clear during my first listen of “Mirror” as to why it’s blowing up the iTunes charts. “Mirror” possesses all the makings of a radio hit, especially because it features Bruno Mars. Mars sings the hook, and though his efforts sound an octave too high, and his voice relatively strained, the masses seem to overlook his faults. Will Mars ever be on a track that doesn’t succeed commercially? I highly doubt it. As a track, however, “Mirror” lacks a lot of substance.
“Tha Carter IV” is littered with cheap one-liners that make an impact lasting about two seconds. Any evidence of Wayne’s usually meticulous metaphors is overshadowed by his overbearing reliance on weak punch lines. Though “IV” fails to live up to Wayne’s past achievements, he’s probably not too concerned. As successful an artist as Lil Wayne understands the supreme artistic freedom that comes with being one of rap’s royalty, and therefore knows he can distribute an album, however mediocre, and still be considered “the greatest rapper alive.”