Tha Carter III Mixtape Mixtape
By Dom Sinacola | 15 February 2008
Tha Carter III Mixtape is supposedly a collection of cuts from Tha Carter III sessions and, as we may hope, an amalgamation of Album Weezy and Mixtape Weezy; the difference between the two, while simple, is worth parsing when money’s involved. If on album Lil Wayne is rabid, punchy, now pushed in marketable increments to new ideas about hip hop’s melody—that stir between anger and the tolerance that comes with money’s freedom—and about his own voice without the mire that Mannie Fresh stuck him to, then on mixtapes he’s absolute bonkers. Because he’s unrestrained, yes, but mostly because all this shit’s free and—unlike with drugs, women, diamonds, weapons, tattoos, and drugs—for once Weezy doesn’t owe shit to anybody. He needs not our platitudes, doesn’t have any reason to thank for being championed by us law-fearing little people (those of us that don’t have us much money, or as much sex, haven’t given as much head, have never considered drawing deep lines in the sand sanctioning our own impenetrable greatness while half-drooling about dying without a visceraful of drugs). Not just prescription pharmaceuticals at that.
Wayne’s is an entire landscape godsent of drugmatter: to “smoke that kush” is to “ball like swoosh,” to flagrantly defy all established methods of creativity and output, as if saying “I don’t know what you on but I’m on some new shit / While your bitch is on my dick like a glue stick,” can acknowledge one’s highfalutin’ position in the chronology of notable MCs while looking down into a big toilet, extending verbal diarrhea—“I’m so aware / I’m so prepared / I’m so fly I’ll take off into open air”—into magical realism and giving all due to narcotics; not just the kush at that, because “lightin’ up that la la” isn’t just getting high, isn’t just a Rastafarian-lite excuse for mind altering substances, it is a big bear hug for the id, a transformative assertion of messianic influence. La la is to be smoked but it’s also to be spit, the very words and flow of Weezy’s game la la itself, stupidly song-y, playing to the subconscious—chthonic, natural, giddy, and mostly unexplored in its endless strains.
That “La La” shamelessly hands a halo to Wayne is nothing. That Wayne can so cleanly tramp through biblical language, shunting lines into half the syllables, making couplets graveyards for internal rhyme only to recede into reused symbols which just raise the graveyards into dynastic tombs, that “Can I kick my story to y’all? / My glory in God / My faith in my flow / I pray that I go where no other rapper has / And when you’re rapping as / Vivid as I your limit is the sky” sounds even sweeter than it looks (and maybe shouldn’t look) because it all is ceaseless, it’s glossolalia, it is infinite, prolific, and so fucking goofy, that he can cap the metaphor with a brisk “Who am I to not follow greatness? / I give these MCs hell like they all atheist” when the song is ostensibly about weed and then come off as a sort of prophet for battle, the very wind in the cipher: nothing short of brilliant. I think. Has someone already called Lil Wayne rap’s holy fool?
Besides an obvious Prince sample, a souped up Heart byte, and a dumb Beatles ape this mixtape bears almost no copped beats, a fact I’ll now deem clairvoyant: Lil Wayne is home and insularly inhabiting a world of his choosing, so how will he pay Kanye? Does it matter how if he is preoccupied “playing basketball with the moon” while he’s “got the whole world at [his] feet,” “swimming laps around a bottle of Louis the Thirteen” or traversing “a sea of codeine,” this Migh-das, King of Buying? No, Tha Carter III Mixtape is not The Leak, isn’t available as a paltry EP through iTunes and Zune, isn’t really even available in any definitive tracklisting. If anything, it’s important to understand that, in fact, Lil Wayne does not give a shit. More than that, he’s completely allowed not to, needs not our apologies, doesn’t have any reason to thank for being parsed into serviceable semiotics by us hyperbole-driven whores of argument.
(“Whores”: Those of us married to the canon Weezy so quickly floated over already with Da Drought 3—stealing as he declares himself the “Best Rapper Alive,” which was believable enough, acceptable at least, because his mimetic dominance over the beats of his idols surpasses their recent output at least in pure melody of dude’s many gutturals, many sloppy tones and personas—those of us unable to admit genius even if it is in only endrhyme or punchline, those of us tortured by less-than-400 words and unadorned phrases, album-less).
Mixtape Weezy is just a lot of fucking fun. Album Weezy kinda isn’t. Mixtape Weezy is an improvisational dynamo, a moment in himself so freshly and completely realized that any turn of phrase is balletic, any pun balls-out clever, so much so that if the song or phrase or pun were to be performed elsewhere or elsetime then it would sound different, carry a different cadence or be enunciated at different points. That is fun, being a part of that kind of singular occurrence, and his albums can’t claim the same, too populated with crunk organ flourish and caffeinated snare, with poses of Wayne manbody/boyface looking downright tough as any experimentation or intuition in lyrical flow is couched in meticulous programming. Even a track like “Shooter” from Tha Carter II (2005), all baleful groove, all grinning Robin Thicke and pages of descending bleeps exhaling into the closest a mainstream rap artist has ever come to a sweating James Brown mindfuck of a breakdown, as if a rimshot were to soundtrack McCarthy’s The Road, even that song is a pimple in the middle of its radiocut brethren. Instead, Mixtape Weezy is all “Shooter” Weezy, his beats turnstiles of forward-thinking empiricism leading to an archaic circus vibe.
Like “Zoo,” which could exist almost wholly in the white between counts, bass burnt down to steel bars and the space between and then the high end only boogers of sewer dew. “Kush” and “La La” are orchids of beats, bent and pleated at the mercy of a sweet vocal iteration, total springtime as opposed to “I Feel Like Dying” which is total melodrama. But “Dying” is itself only syrup-lo and a wistful croon; Wayne slowly crows about his drugs and his landscape of drugs; this is not rapping, it’s some new shit, or not. Doesn’t matter. What matters is that it is Wayne’s. It is Wayne telling the police that he can buy his own bracelets. It is Wanye inimitably confessing, “My spot remain, like a bleach stain, a cranberry / It’s ‘Murder, She Wrote’ like Angela Lansbury,” and exorcising, ““The ground shall BREAK when they bury him / Bury him? / I know one day they gotta bury him but I lock my casket tight baby so I don’t let the devil in” to make the question sound both ascending, as is typical of question marks, and descending, as is typical of condescension or disbelief.
We need not believe him; this is Wayne standing over us—“Yes I’m the best you know I ain’t positive I’m definite”—and creating a logical quandary to which Mims would double-take: “I’m me / So who you? / You’re not me? / You’re not me. / I know that ain’t fair, but I don’t care, I’m a motherfucking Cash Money millionaire.” He’s Weezy ‘cause we’re not and we’re not ‘cause he is. And such is hierarchical. Lil Wayne is free to do all that his heart desires and we aren’t; we have not the scope of imagination to create an economy of drugs nor do we have the swagger to match such mixtape freedom. And he needs not our permission, doesn’t have any reason to be free relative to the rest of us (those of us who prescribe to utilitarianism, those of us that can only find a flowchart of justification between means and ends, those of us that recognize the name John Stuart Mill before Mack Maine). Ancillary characters are only plot filler; the world outside of Wayne’s orbit is a grand illusion. If our court sentences him to jail, he will only laugh from outside the bars as we unknowingly incarcerate ourselves. Weezy is pre-Copernicus and Weezy is the earth.
Thus, Tha Carter III Mixtape exists as it must exist: tome and testament, Weezy doing as Weezy does. In other words, we must give a shit about Weezy because he doesn’t give one about us, and in order for harmony to ever exist in this world again, we must maintain balance. Through mixtapes. Not quite yet with his albums.