Lil Wayne: Tha Carter III

Tha Carter III: Finally, Lil Wayne gives rap its own Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.

Destined to be a stoner classic, Tha Carter III should silence critics who think Lil Wayne can't make a cohesive album. His vision and self-confidence have improved exponentially since the humorless mish-mash of styles that was Tha Carter II. III is pop-rap to giggle to and marvel at, from "Phone Home," where Wayne gives his outer-space shtick the full treatment, to filthy nursery rhyme "La La," to the ten-minute long "Misunderstood," in which he disses Al Sharpton and imparts that he lives next door to a child molester. (While getting high, naturally.) The CD has almost as many throwaway lines — "I ain't kinda hot, I'm sauna, I sweat money, and the bank is my shower" — as hot ones — "To the left, to the left, if you want to leave be my guest, you can step," but it never ceases to be weird. Throw in surefire hits like "Mr. Carter" and "Got Money," and you've got an album that belongs in the all-time pop-music pantheon. Not beside Paid in Full or Death Certificate, but beside Dark Side of the Moon and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road — all classics not in spite of, but because of, their grandiose silliness.

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