Tha Carter II
2005, Cash Money Records
It's been no secret on this forum that I'm a giant Lil Wayne fan. But what may be lesser-revealed is that other than Outkast and the very occassional stray single, I was a complete hater of Southern Hip Hop for a long time. I just didn't get any of it. The beats sounded so cheap to me. The dialect and slang was so foreign to me. None of it made any sense to my ears, so I just shrugged it off. Stopped even paying attention.
After THA CARTER II was released there was a 2-year barrage of Lil Wayne mixtapes hitting almost weekly. It seemed like every magazine, blog, website, etc was giving the dude high praises. I couldn't comprehend that someone who's name began with "Lil" could be hip hop's great savior. And then a weird piece of serendipity happened: my wife bought Robin Thicke's 2nd album. She told me there was a song it I might like with a rapper. Guess who it was?
Nothing could have prepared me for "Shooter." It was loose and bouncey. It was playful and aggressive. It built up subtly until Lil Wayne let out a manifesto equivalent of HG Lewis' theme from 2000 Maniacs. "so many doubt cuz I come from the South but when I open up my mouth only bullets come out" is "the South will rise again."
the song was enough to convince me that maybe this Lil Wayne character really was worth paying attention to. I picked up THA CARTER II and was hooked Fast. Within months I tracked down the rest of his albums, as well as a pile of mixtapes, etc. But just as important, I became a full on convert to Southern Hip Hop in general. To this day the genre makes up the majority of my listening, and this album is almost exclusively responsible for that.
Opener "The Mob" is is a slow, bass-heavy 5-minute verse. Unbelievable every time I hear it. The three-parter "Fly In"/"Carter II"/"Fly Out" is just as sick with no choruses. There's the single "Fireman" with it's sirensynths, "Mo Fire" with it's reggae tinge, "D Boy" with Cash Money fam and digs at Jay-Z (presumably also apparent in "Best Rapper Alive"). There's money songs, sex songs, emotional songs... everything is here. It's a sprawling album that needs to be digested slowly. In parts. It's amazing. And needs to be in yr collection if you like hip hop. At all.