By Jabril Power

“Every wannabe fly ‘til you swat ’em.”

Probably one of the most anticipated albums of 2011, maybe even more so then Jay-Z and Kanye’s “Watch The Throne,” Lil Wayne’s newest creation, “Tha Carter IV,” is almost unavoidable since Wayne is probably one of the most successful rappers on the radio right now. This album is the fourth installment of the “Carter” series, which, unlike his mixtapes, tends to have more hooks and a bit more structure, a common practice with today’s rap artists.

But from the cover all the way to some of the actual songs on the album, it’s debatable on whether or not this album can even be taken seriously. Similar to “The Carter III,” which featured Wayne as a baby on the cover, this cover features what seems to be 6 or 7-year-old Wayne with tattoos on his face and neck. This is simply laughable, especially for a hip-hop album. Where “Tha Carter III” was somewhat understandable because it was a tribute to Nas’ “Illmatic” and Notorious B.I.G.’s “Ready to Die,” no matter how much you look at this one, you’ll still be asking yourself, “Why?”

But people don’t spend their money on albums for their covers. Music lovers buy albums for amazing wordplay, content, features and just all around good music…right?

Sadly, Lil Wayne has watered down his flow to essentially taking idioms or commonly used sayings and making references to them, which makes his verses boring. This type of flow would normally be fine, but his songs are structured in such a way that listeners are left waiting to get to punch lines that don’t have very much weight at all. Unfortunately, everything in between is extremely forgettable.

Some examples of such boring lyrics include: “If time is money, I’m an hour past paid;” “Man, when that cookie crumble, everybody want a crumb;” and “Life is a bitch, and death is her sister.”

And there’s so many more. As you can see, Wayne’s style would be considerably easy to imitate. With this album, there is a lack of creative wordplay and the content suffers for that.

Perhaps the redeeming quality of the album isn’t even Lil Wayne’s work. In other words, in every song that features another singer, Lil Wayne is outshone by the other singers.

It becomes clear it wasn’t the most productive thing to recruit Andre 3000 and Nas, hip-hop legends, to rap on tracks that Wayne wouldn’t even write one word to. The best song on the album doesn’t even have Lil Wayne on it, and that’s simply because the other rappers have the skills that Wayne lacks when creating an enjoyable piece of work. He was brave to include it, but it’s a shame Lil Wayne chose this route because it makes him look even worse when listeners like Busta Rhymes or Tech N9ne’s verse more than the rest of “Tha Carter IV.”

There is one thing for certain, though: The features, from the likes of John Legend and T-Pain, work, and they work well. The production is also loud, energetic fun and a great album to work out to, which is why even with the lack of creativity, skill or whatever you want to call it, the album is still not totally intolerable.

The album is too fun to hate, but it’s not even close to “Watch The Throne” or even in the same ballpark as Kendrick Lamar’s “Section.80.”

Highlights:

“Nightmares of the Bottom”

“How to Hate”

“Interlude”

“Outro”

Verdict: C+