Something Special: Tha Carters…Ranked

Today, in recognition of what is undeniably a landmark event in the industry, we’ll be flashing back to 2004, 2005, 2008, and 2011. Last night at midnight, Lil Wayne, a titan of the hip-hop industry, dropped Tha Carter V, the fifth in his line of self-titled albums. In recognition of this event, I suggested to Commissioner Heff that I rank the previous four Carter albums for today’s Flashback Friday, before his impending review of the new one. It turns out, it’s not too easy to rank these albums. Tha Carter I, II, III, and IV have each been over an hour of music, each one reflecting Wayne’s ever-changing style that had allowed him to stay on top of the rap game for so long. Here’s my order, worst to last.

Tha Carter IV:

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It was hard to decide which one would take the last place, but at the end of the day, it had to be four. There are various examples in music of the sequel being better, but this is not one of them. I’m not saying it’s the Jaws 4 of the series, but it wasn’t a hip-hop masterpiece like its predecessors, just a very solid album. A handful of my favorite Weezy tracks are on this album, but I just don’t think it stacks up to the other 3.

The Essentials:

“6 Foot 7 Foot,” “Blunt Blowin,” “Up Up and Away,” and “It’s Good”

Tha Carter:

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The one that started it all, Tha Carter, shows Wayne at his hungriest. Before Cash Money Records sold over one billion units worldwide, they were Cash Money Millionaires, and Lil Wayne was their champion. At 22, Wayne captured the attention of the music industry with his gruff southern voice and unpredictable flow. This was his fourth studio album, but the first that began to reveal the trademark style that he developed throughout the 2000s.

The Essentials:

“Go DJ,” “I Miss My Dawgs,” “Cash Money Millionaires,” and “Bring it Back”

Tha Carter II:

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This album was a huge switch up in style from The Carter. Released just one year after, Tha Carter II takes on sounds of classic R&B throwbacks, some of the tracks not even resembling anything close to a traditional hip-hop structure. The production took a huge step up, and so did Wayne. His flow was more fluid, his hooks more clever, and the production behind him was simply better. This album shows Weezy really hitting his stride.

The Essentials:

“Lock and Load,” “Hustler Musik,” “Shooter,” and “Best Rapper Alive”

Tha Carter III:

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This was the easiest decision of the whole list. Released in 2008, this album has songs you could still throw on at a party to get the people going. Not to mention it’s commercial success, going platinum in the first week it was released. The tracks on this hour and a half monster explore classic rap styles, Jamaican style hip-hop beats, R&B, pop, and everything in between. Wayne stretches the rap medium to its limit in a way only he could.

The Essentials:

“3 Peat,” “Mr. Carter,” “A Milli,” “Mrs. Officer,” “Shoot Me Down,” “Got Money,” and “Lollipop”

Stay tuned for a review of the newest in Wayne’s line of self-titled masterpieces, hopefully, he’s back with another gem. Until next week, keep it classic.


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