Lil Wayne

Destined to be a stoner classic, Tha Carter III should silence critics who think Lil Wayne can't make a cohesive album. His vision and self-confidence have improved exponentially since the humorless mishmash of styles that was Tha Carter II. Instead of trying to record the hardest Southern gangsta album of the year, Tha Carter III is pure pop-rap to giggle to and marvel at, from "Phone Home," where Wayne gives his outer-space shtick the full treatment, to filthy nursery rhyme "La La" to the ten-minute "Dontgetit," in which he disses Al Sharpton and imparts that he lives next door to a child molester. (All while getting high, naturally.) The CD has almost as many throwaway lines — "I ain't kinda hot/ I'm sauna/ I sweat money/ And the bank is my shower" — as hot ones — "To the left/ To the left/ If you want to leave/ Be my guest, you can step," but it never ceases to be weird. Throw in sure-fire hits like "Mr. Carter" and "Got Money" and you've got an album that belongs in the all-time pop-music pantheon. Not beside Paid in Full or Death Certificate but beside Dark Side of the Moon and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, classics not in spite of but because of their grandiose silliness.

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