In 2018, Lil Wayne’s name is greeted with jaded chuckles or eye-rolling apathy. He’s not the superstar he once was. His protégés, Drake and Nicki Minaj, have surpassed and lapped him in popularity and acclaim, becoming the two biggest female rappers on the planet. And Tha Carter V is being held hostage like a chubby girl in Buffalo Bill’s basement.
How did a man who was once considered the greatest rapper alive become an afterthought?
Have you people no loyalty?
I might only be 24, but anyone in their 20s or older can attest that, a decade ago, Lil Wayne was the king of the world. He was unavoidable, he was everywhere, he was the HPV of music. And the key to his kingdom was Tha Carter III.
It’s very rare that an album feels like an event, but Tha Carter III was a massive affair in pop culture. In the first few seconds of “Mr. Carter,” you could tell that this was Lil Wayne’s moment, and he knew it. Listening to that song now, it feels like a time capsule of his entire reign.
Wayne was rap’s weirdo superhero, with tattooed eyeballs and the voice of a bullfrog. He was larger than life, even though for some reason he always sounded like he was about to cry. And despite being a pop music darling, he could rap his ass off. “A Milli” was such a dynamic showcase of rapping that we all overlooked the lyric where Wayne thought menstruation was an STD symptom.
His work ethic was unparalleled. EVERY song from 2007 through 2009 had a Lil Wayne feature. You couldn’t even sing Happy Birthday at your nephew’s birthday party without Lil Wayne popping up and spitting a 16. Hell, one time I was singing in the shower and Weezy appeared on the other side of the curtain and started rapping. It was cool but obviously, I filed charges.
Consider the fact there’s an entire generation of rap fans who consider Wayne’s triple-Platinum project a staple of their childhoods, like Halo 3 or acne scars.
On “A Milli,” he vomited dizzying bars over a bizarre beat and bludgeoned us with enough wordplay, similes, metaphors to make an English teacher pass out. “Tie My Hands,” a tribute to a post-Katrina New Orleans, was beautiful even though it’s a bleak reminder that Robin Thicke exists. “Lollipop,” “Mrs. Officer,” and “Got Money” were on the radio so much that Webster’s Dictionary officially changed the word “radio” to “Lil Wayne machine.”
My point is this...
We’re approaching the 10-year anniversary of Tha Carter III, and I propose we make it a national holiday. Not just a hip-hop holiday, but a full-blown, day-off-from-work-if-you-work-at-the-local-mall kind of national holiday.
We should all have backyard BBQs in celebration, with or without Lupe and Talib Kweli on the playlist. Presidents should honor this day. If D*nald Tr*mp doesn’t tweet something about Tha Carter III on June 10, we have NO choice but to finally impeach the dude.
Think about all the dumbass holidays we celebrate. We got St. Patrick’s Day, a day to get drunk and pretend we care about Irish shit. Call me old-fashioned, but I dream of a day where can get drunk EVERY day, and not use leprechauns as an excuse.
Hell, we have Arbor Day. ARBOR. DAY. We have a fuckin day celebrating trees. If TREES can get a day, then Lil Wayne needs one too.
For many of us, Tha Carter III was the soundtrack to our formative high school years, the background music for late-night drives with friends and awkward attempts to get laid at post-prom parties. It’s time we give this cultural artifact the respect it deserves.
I hereby declare June 10 as Carter III Day.
Have a celebration, invite your loved ones, and do NOT go to work. Don’t blame me if you get fired, though.