Today I would like to show some appreciation to one of my favorite artists Lil Wayne. Ever since the release of Tha Carter back in the summer of 2004 I have been a fan of Wayne. Wayne has been around for a long time in the industry. In 1991 Baby discovered Wayne and ever since he’s been evolving and growing as an artist. Wayne has grown so much over the years he’s even transcended past what we expected from him. Let’s take a look at what Wayne’s done for the industry and what we hope he will do for it in the future.
Every since Weezy was discovered by Baby back in 91′, he’s been a student of hip-hop. By hanging around Juvenile and Turk, he’s learned a lot growing up in Cash Money. As a solo artist, Wayne struggled as a solo artist due to his ability to sound clear enough for people to understand what he was saying. He also struggled with his narratives. That was the main reason why I personally couldn’t get into him until he matured more as an artist. All of his albums since his debut album Tha Block Is Hot wasn’t successful until he put together the first installment of the greatest rap series, in my opinion, in Tha Carter.
Tha Carter I
Even though he wasn’t gaining much notoriety for his work, he learned from his failures and focused on his craft. With the release of Tha Carter, it all began to come together for Wayne. The success of the album’s lead single ‘Go DJ’ grabbed people’s attention. With his lyricism and overall clarity as far as how he performed his verses. The success of that single got Wayne a verse on Destiny Child’s ‘Soldier’. This was a huge thing for Wayne at the time. Destiny Child helped him gain the attention he needed to promote his album.
After the release of Tha Carter Wayne didn’t take a break between his albums. Instead, he continued recording and polishing his craft and released a lot of music by way of mixtapes. Before we get into his mixtapes, let’s take a look at the second installment of Tha Carter series
Tha Carter II
Tha Carter II was released shortly after the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The album was slated to release in September but the hurricane delayed its release. With Tha Carter II Wayne showcased his growth artistically and lyrically and gave us our true first taste of what he was made of. With his lead single, ‘Fireman’ Wayne gave us a taste of how confident he’s become and it reflected in his record sales. The album sold more than 238,000 copies the first week and landed at #2 on the Billboards 200 albums chart. This album was also the first album Wayne did with multiple producers.
At the time of this album’s release, the majority of southern artists weren’t focusing on lyricism and flow. Tha Carter II was an important installment because he showed that he could be just as good as northern rappers. The album was just another step into Wayne becoming a complete artist. For me, Wayne became that complete artist with the release of Tha Carter III.
Before we get into the third installment of Tha Carter series, let’s take a look at Wayne’s mixtapes and work as a collaborator. The time spent between albums was also a pivotal time in his career. Developing The Dedication 2 along with other mixtapes like Da Drought 3 and Tha Drought is Over 2, helped give Wayne a bigger audience. By using mixtapes, Wayne was able to showcase his abilities to rap over different kinds of beats. He also was in high demand as a collaborator. Through his mixtapes and collaborations, he was ready for his most diverse album to date in Tha Carter III.
Tha Carter III
On June 1o, 2008 Lil Wayne released Tha Carter III which sold over a million copies in its first week. In a time where leaked albums and illegal downloads, this was quite a feat.
This was Wayne’s most diverse album to date and it’s lead single ‘Lollipop’ featuring Static Major showed it. The single gave him his first top 10 single as a solo artist and his first number one on Billboards. With this album, Wayne continued to have success releasing three more singles that were huge Billboard hits. The album also had a lot feature appearances from Static Major Jay-Z, T-Pain, Robin Thicke, Busta Rhymes, and Kanye West.
Overall this album was his biggest album to date and showed us how far he’s come in his career. With Tha Carter III I feel Wayne reached the pinnacle of his career in my eyes. The album solidified Wayne’s place in Hip-Hop and his evolution into the biggest rapper alive at the time.
Even though he had other projects and another installment in the series, the first three is what really made Wayne the artists we love today. With his Carter series, he’s pushed the boundaries of Hip-Hop and inspired the generation after him to do the same. As we await the final installment in Tha Carter V, we can only hope he gives us what we have been waiting for.