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Rating is available when the video has been rented. Fittingly, the last mixtape he released before spending eight months in prison, was his final classic.
“Run This Town” was the tape’s highlight, as Wayne jumped on the moment’s hottest song, making the Jay-Kanye original, obsolete. Recorded during They Carter III sessions, the tracks were leaked online early, forcing Wayne to package them as an EP.
It’s easy to forget that Beyoncé’s “Upgrade U” was a hit-song before Little Wayne freestyled over the Swizz Beatz-produced track on The Drought 3. Backed by Swizz’ trademark horns and claps, Wayne does lyrical gymnastics for three-straight minutes.
Kanye may have been the first rapper to call-out George Bush in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but Little Wayne’s response is the only one that matters. Due to an endless amount of leaks while recording the album, Wayne was forced to package all the tracks into a mixtape; for all intents and purposes, known as The Carter 3 Sessions.
On “Something You Forgot” Little Wayne uses the ’80s ballad as the back-drop for a tale of regret and lost love. Over the next two years, 50 Cent, T.I., and Young Jeezy grabbed it momentarily; but only when Little Wayne proclaimed himself the Best Rapper Alive” on 2005’s They Carter II, did it feel like hip-hop was close to crowning a new king.
The following year, Jay-Z returned with his first single “Show Me What You Got.” The track, as well as its accompanying album, Kingdom Come, felt forced. In April 2007, he boldly used the beat for The Drought 3, flipping the chorus into “Dough Is What I Got.” In an instant, the torch was passed.
When you’re surrounded by yes-men building you up constantly, I suppose it’s impossible to maintain the chip-on-your-shoulder mindset which helps push rappers toward hip-hop’s upper echelon during the early stages of their career. Fittingly, Little Wayne used a poop reference to reinforce his streak of dusting the competition.
In its entirety, the verse stands as one of the best of his career, but the final 30 seconds may be the most accurate testament to his greatness; specifically, when Wayne spends four-straight lines uttering words (“Beef! Wayne blacked out so effortlessly, so often, that his brilliance made him immune to following the rules taught in Grammar School.
Hip-hop accepted Little Wayne’s habit of beat-jacking, in large part because his remixes frequently supplanted the originals. Jones.” Wayne didn’t just use the beat to showcase his unmatched prowess, but also crafted an entirely new song out of the triumphantly dark instrumental.
Ten years on, “Sky Is the Limit” is the best anthem in Wayne’s catalog, if not one of the greatest in hip-hop’s last decade. Most importantly, though, it represents Wayne at his most urgent; one year before being unanimously considered the Best Rapper Alive”, on this track, he was still playing the role of underdog.
Both The Drought and Dedication can claim the top spot of that title, but in this day in age, when the vast majority of people consume music through streaming services, mixtapes tend to be overlooked and forgotten, as it can be quite a tumultuous process for them to be added to streaming services due to possible copyright issues. The Wayne train was in full motion circa 2006, fueled by a compilation of leftover tracks from They Carter III brought to us by New Oceanian and former Weezy collaborator DJ Raj Move.
This tape is reminiscent of the days when gangsta rap was the primary sound of mainstream hip-hop, before the crown was slowly but surely usurped by backpack rappers. Despite some songs sounding like they were recorded on a webcam in a hotel bathroom, this leftover dish still packs some flavor 13 years after it was released, but luckily for us, this was still just an appetizer.
Even if D3 doesn't scratch the itch for a hard-bodied flow or killer double entendres, it's packed with hilarious skits and features from Nicki Minaj and Drake, among other upcoming acts of the era. Later in his career Wayne would master a quick transition from staccato to melodic deliveries in the span of a single bar, for which we thank him, because the world is too small for it to have two T-Pains.
Unlike the rest of the series, The Drought 2 packs an equal amount of good and not-so-enjoyable songs, which happened to be the same tracks where we don't hear the Martian at all. It's no secret that HOV is Weezy's biggest influence when it comes to lyrics (to the point where Wayne has one of the Brooklyn MC's verses tattooed on his leg).
This project signifies the rise of the older, more mature Weezy, who effortlessly aces mixing bouncy and melodic flows. Roughly 15 years after his rise to stardom, the Young Money general was still able to impress with what was supposed to be an appetizer for They Carter V.
Composed and released by Raj Move, Weezy's affiliate from They Carter I days, this tape has quite an accurate name to it as it bleeds Louisiana, mostly because of the amount of guest features from local artists, which include preppiest Talk Currency, Mack Maine and Raw Dizzy. Unfortunately, just like with The Drought 2, we don't hear as much Wayne on this release compared to other projects, but we can spot a rare occurrence of an act known as 2 Chain, who was still performing under the moniker City BOI and was a part of Play Circle.
The The Drought series was brought to listeners' ears by none other than DJ Khaled, when fans were finding for new music from the New Oceanian. He definitely backed both of those statements up, as the large amount of romantically vulgar punchlines and references to mind-altering chemicals have proven to be his go-to topics for the better part of this decade.
Once again, this was a major nod to the move JAY-Z had pulled three years earlier when launching his own line with Reebok accompanied by a release of a mixtape dubbed The S. Carter Collection. From such lines as “I love a blowjob, I need an employer” to the rhymes galore on all three parts of “16 Bars,” the collections pack paramount material when it comes to ace Weezy lyrics.
Clearly a worthy, if not a superior, follow-up to the previous release, No Ceilings 2 dropped at a time when the world was dying for They Carter V, and it offered a system of life support akin to Tony Stark's Iron Man suit. Declared the MC as he impenitently unwrapped this 12-track apology to his fans for the untimely release of one of his most monumental bodies of work, They Carter 4.
Conclusively, Big Wayne's take on Adele's monster hit “Rolling in the Deep” actually brought something new to the table, all it took was sprinkling some Weezy magic on it. One of the highlights of the tape is a feature from July Santana, especially for those who are still waiting for their collaborative project, which at this point in time has gained a Detox -level of mysticism.
Sound-wise, this tape signifies the birth of the modern day Weezy, who seriously 1-up'd his lyrical game compared to previous releases by expanding the topics of his bars. It might be his best tape when it comes to the quality of guest verses, varying from Wayne's old roadies and fellow New Orleans Currency & Mack Maine, as well as July Santana in his heyday.
He may sound like he just crawled out of a bong, but hip-hop’s most obsessed-over MC is also its most prolific. Lil Wayne hasn’t released an official album in almost two years, but, with a work ethic to shame Ryan Adams, he’s put out more songs in 2007 than most rappers do in a career.
Until Steve Jobs invents an iPod big enough to hold all his mixtapes, though, Vulture presents our list of the ten new Wayne songs you should download right now. A decent mix of backstory and braggadocio, highlighted by an inexplicable shout-out to Angela Danbury.
“How You Like Me Now” He bullshits about his drug intake and bling expenditures, but at least he’s upfront about his dental hygiene: “I got a grill, I don’t got to get my tooth fixed / The tooth fairy would retire if I lose it.” “Lyrical Homicide” (with the Game) It’s pretty safe to say that Wayne is the only one guilty of murder on this track.
“Duffle Bag Boy” (with Play Circle) Play Circle’s verses are pretty boilerplate (rims, haters, cheddar, etc. ), but Wayne’s hook transcends the bling-addled hot dagger.
“Alphabet Bitches” Weezy nimbly assesses the contents of his phone book, in alphabetical order. “Getting’ It” (with DJ Benji and the Cool Kids) He’s “so high” that he thought he “saw spaceships,” but that won’t stop him from rhyming about sneakers, computer programming, and threesomes, all within the span of 40 seconds.
It’s Me Bitches Remix (with Swizz Beats and R. Kelly) In which he tries on a fake Jamaican accent and practices his French. “Help” The titular Beatles sample makes it unlikely that this track will ever get a real release, which is a shame since it’s probably the most honest 83 seconds in his discography.