Cash Money Records

Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter Turns 10: Why We Still Can’t Stop Listening

Still so good.

Before we’re gifted with Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter V, it’s time to look back on the beginning of the hip-hop staple: Tha Carter, which was released 10 years ago today.

Not only was Weezy’s fourth solo album a platinum-selling hit, it signified a major turning point for the once-kid rapper and the label that’s he’s called home since 12 years old, Cash Money Records. Over the course of 21 tracks (minus a couple of skits), Wayne displayed an elevated level of lyricism and began to shine brighter than any Cash Money star before him.

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Weezy’s stand-out, we’ve narrowed it down to the 10 things we love the most about Tha Carter.

1. The Title
Not only did Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr. get personal using his last name as partial inspiration for the album title, he also threw a nod to Wesley Snipes’ 1991 street classic “New Jack City.” In the film, Snipes’ fictional Nino Brown sold drugs out of a building called the Carter.

2. The Album Cover
Before Tha Carter Weezy used an over-the-top art style popularized by Pen and Pixel Graphics for his album covers. In 2004 he switched to a simple more natural photo which fans immediately connected to.

3. Mannie Fresh
Lil Wayne has worked with a ton of notable and accomplished producers, but there is something about his collaborations with Mannie Fresh that we just love. Fresh didn’t do every track on Tha Carter, but 14 out of 21 isn’t bad. They haven’t worked much together since.

4. The Lyrics
From the album’s intro “Walk In” to the closing “Walk Out,” Weezy didn’t slack for a minute with his bars.

5. “I Miss My Dawgs”
When Wayne was a part of the Hot Boyz, he had Juvenile, B.G. and Turk to rely on, but after Cash Money’s all-star roster began to abandon ship, Weezy was left by himself. With the label’s weight on his shoulders, Wayne stood tall, but still rapped about his real feelings on “I Miss My Dawgs.”

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6. “Go DJ”
After this video it was clear that Lil Wayne was here to stay.

7. The Birth Of Birdman, Jr.
Lil Wayne goes by many names; Weezy, Tunechi, Weezy F. Baby, but on Tha Carter is where he truly cemented himself Birdman, Jr. on “BM J.R.”

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8. The Birdman Cameos
Baby and Wayne have always had a special bond; and on Tha Carter they collaborated on three tracks, not counting all of Birdman’s ad-libs. Some things just go together.

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9. The Dreads
Mr. Long Hair Don’t Care didn’t always have long dreads. Weezy’s hairdo has become a part of who he is and with the arrival of Tha Carter we saw significant growth in his now iconic hair style.

10. The Rise Of Mixtape Weezy
Though he released a few “Sqad Up” mixtapes in 2002, in between 500 Degreez and Tha Carter is when Wayne really planted his feet in the mixtape game. Free projects like Da Drought, Da Drought 2 and The Prefix really established Tune’s beloved alter ego.

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