“The Carter upgrade is something we’ve been talking about around here for a while now, along with our discussions of the rise of the cultural phenomenon, and self-proclaimed iconoclast, Lil’ Wheezy. Though some of us do remain unconvinced, he does serve us well as a polemic that we might use to question our here and now. This is particularly true in terms of the benefits or pitfalls associated with music distribution in it’s popularly preferred digital form. With a prolific artist such as Lil Wayne, and his seemingly endless output quickly becoming freely available, it allows his massive fan base a hand in the creative process. Wayne records songs but ultimately it will be his fans who create the album. This version below is by no means definitive, but offers up one possibility. Feel free to offer up tracklist suggestions in the comments”–r
Tha Carter 3.1
So it’s inevitable that people out there in the Humanity 2.0 web of deceit are going to start creating their own custom versions of Lil’ Wayne’s “Tha Carter III”; between all of the false leaks of the album over the past year and a half to all the mixtapes, to the officially-released EP from late ’07, there’s about a milli (pun intended – pun intended!) songs floating around. While it’s an outstanding record by any measure, and specifically one of the better rap records mainstream or undie of the past several years, there are some real clunkers on the final released version of “Tha Carter III,” so it’s only natural that alternate fan-created versions are going to start appearing. Here’s mine – let’s call it “Tha Carter 3.1,” with a mild nod to the Windows 3.1 that I grew up with.
1. “I’m Me” (from “Tha Leak”) This is a perfect album opener that sets the tone for everything to come…it essentially introduces the record and the tone of the record, and acts as a brilliant opening statement. It replaces “3peat,” which feels like an inferior re-working of this song to begin with.
2. “Mr. Carter” (Album Version) No problems here, and continues the flow. “I’m me…who am I? I’m Mr. Carter!”
3. “Talkin’ about it” (“Tha Leak”) This continues the pomp and pageantry of the record’s opening salvo of self-definition, boasting, and declaration, looking back a little bit at where Wayne comes from and who he’s become.
4. “A Milli” (Album Version) Straight battle rhymes with a mixtape vibe. He’s spent three tracks telling us how great he is, and now he flexes.
5. “Kush” (from various mixtapes and also on “Tha Leak”) Lighthearted but celebratory stoner jam moves us into classic Wayne weed ventilator territory, and a perfect summer jam for a record that ultimately came out in June. Endless quotables here and cross-references with later tracks…”Keep a bandana like a ninja turtle/I’m like a turtle when I sip the purple.” And who can stop saying “Captain Crunch, these niggas is froot loops!” after hearing this?
6. “Phone Home” (Album Version) “We are not the same, I am a martian.” Goes from the weed and sizzurp of “Kush” into straight outer space with the album’s sleeper hit.
7. “I Feel Like Dying” (from several mixtapes) Seems like a mixtape throwaway, but added to the album creates the perfect hangover and low to finish out the drug trilogy of “kush” and “phone home.” Also brings things down a notch for the first time. “Tie My Hands” will do this again later. Do you remember when records had peaks and valleys?
8. “Dr. Carter” (Album Version) Not my favorite “concept” track, but I’m a sucker for Axelrod’s “Holy Thursday” whenever it makes an appearance in any form. And besides, who do you call when you feel like dying? Dr. Carter!
9. “Prostitute Flange” (from mixtapes and has appeared as “Prostitute Fling”) I like “Prostitute Flange” because it sounds like a Pere Ubu song title and there’s some nice flanger on this track. A true love ballad as only Weezy could twist it, and its inclusion gives the record more sonic and emotional nuance.
10. “Comfortable” (Album Version). The perfect response and chaser to “Prostitute’s” declaration of unconditional love. I’m not the biggest fan of Kenny’s 00′s work, but it works here.
11. “Tie My Hands” (Album Version) Robin Thicke’s embarrassing blue-eyed moans almost knock this off of the record, but it provides another quiet interlude and an emotional interlude and sets up the New Orleans stuff for…
12. “Gossip” (from “Tha Leak” and live at the BET awards) Probably Wayne’s strongest and most emphatic moment to date, and I was shocked that it didn’t make it to the final version of the album. Raw, emotional, angry, and riding on that gorgeous, tense, and epic beat. “Stop!”
13. “La La La” (from various mixtapes) Not to be confused with the final album’s David Banner throwaway “La La,” this is an incredibly breezy and nostalgic moment drifting on a languid piano loop and some gorgeous vocals. Completes the “New Orleans Trilogy” of “Tie My Hands” and “Gossip” with a fond look back.
14. “Lollipop” (Album Version) No real commentary needed, other than that having “Lollipop” on the album singlehandedly allows the user to remove inferior club capitulations like “Got Money.”
15. “Mrs. Officer” (Album Version) Song of the year? Continuing from the sex rap hilarity of “Lollipop,” Wayne rewrites Prince’s “Lady Cab Driver” and forever changes how we hear the phrase “Fuck the police.”
16. “Let the Beat Build” (Album Version) Bringing things in for a triumphant close, this is Part One – The Celebration.
17. “Love Me or Hate Me” (from “Tha Leak”) The final declaration and the perfect bookend to “I’m Me.” I’m me…here’s who I am. Here’s why. Now love me or hate me.”