After years in proverbial hip-hop purgatory, Lil Wayne has finally released his long-awaited album Tha Carter V, just after his 36th birthday.
CV, the fifth installment of Wayne's chart-topping, Grammy-winning series that started in 2004, nearly became a pop culture fable about the perils of music industry politics, following years of legal battles with his Cash Money Records boss and musical father figure, Birdman.
Few aspects of the album sound like hip-hop-circa-2012, when the project was first teased. It's clear from the beat production, the subject matter in Wayne's verses and the array of rappers listed as featured artists that this isn't a body of music that's been collecting dust on a self somewhere in the Cash Money offices all these years; as trap and rap-rock beats have become the dominating sound of hip-hop in the last four years, Wayne kept his ears open. Features on the 23-track album range from long-established names Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar and Wayne's Young Money signee Nicki Minaj to culture-leading hypebeasts like Travis Scott and the late XXXTentacion.
Weezy raps double time about blowing rappers out of the water on "Let It Fly," boasts about staying resilient on "Can't Be Broken," but takes a backseat to let Kendrick shine on "Mona Lisa." Wayne's own daughter, Reginae Carter, sings the haunting chorus on "Famous," while Weezy rhymes about becoming a stranger to himself through the years.
As described in a recent Billboard profile, Wayne addresses his childhood suicide attempt on the record "Let It All Work Out" over a Sampha sample which serves not only the album's close, but as the most heartfelt revelation of the project.
"I woke up, blood was all around me / Its' mine, I didn't die but as I was dying / God came to my side and we talked about it / He sold me another life and he made a prophet," raps Wayne.