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After selling 964, 000 copies of Tha Carter IV last week, Lil Wayne stands as hip-hop’s current undisputed first-week king. The incredible feat also cemented Weezy’s Carter series as one of hip-hop’s most commercially successful franchises, though, he faces stiffer competition in that department—namely another MC who shares his Carter surname, Jay-Z.
In November 1997, Hov kicked off the first of his two excellent trilogies with the release of In My Lifetime, Vol.1. The forecast looked a bit cloudy at first, as Jay’s attempt at crafting a more universally-appealing record was panned by critics. The disc still sold upwards 1 million copies, but Jigga Man’s ambitions to take New York City’s reigns in the wake of The Notorious B.I.G.’s death, as suggested on Vol.1‘s “The City Is Mine”—initially appeared out of reach.
Undaunted, Hov went right back to work and released The Streets Is Watching—a straight-to-VHS (remember those) film titled after one of Vol.1‘s standout tracks. The movie dropped with an accompanying soundtrack featuring bangers like the Memphis Bleek-assisted “It’s Alright” and “Murdergram” featuring a red-hot DMX and an ascending Ja Rule. The soundtrack reversed Jay’s momentum leading into the release of the God MC’s highest-selling album to date, Vol.2… Hard Knock Life, in September 1998. Hovi closed out his first trilogy with the release of Vol.3… Life and Times of Sean Carter in December of the following year.
After showing his crew love on 2000′s compilation-turned-solo-album, The Dynasty: Roc La Familia, Jigga launched his second trilogy, The Blueprint, on September 11, 2001. The Blueprint 2: The Gift and the Curse followed in November 2002 and S. Dot concluded his second trilogy—following a short-lived retirement and mixed reviewed comeback LPs—with The Blueprint 3 in 2009.
Similarly to Hov’s Lifetime franchise, Weezy’s Carter series got off to a slow start. Though he’d been written off, the last soldier of Birdman’s Cash Money army began his quest to plant the CMB flag atop of hip-hop’s elite with the release of Tha Carter in June 2004. The record sold decently, but Wayne’s mission appeared impossible until the release of Tha Carter‘s second single, “Go DJ” and a career-defining guest appearance alongside T.I. on Destiny’s Child’s appropriately titled, “Soldier”—powered by a cosign from Jay-Z no less. Soon enough, fans previously blind to Lil Tunechi’s music began to pay attention. Weezy’s “Soldier” verse was a taste of things to come, as the New Orleans rapper reinvented himself into a punchline-driven rhyme animal and began a string of seemingly endless guest appearances that resulted in a deafening buzz. Tha Carter II followed in December 2005, earning Tune another platinum plaque and Birdman Jr. made history when he sold a little over 1 million copies of Tha Carter III in June 2008.
But who’s the Head Carter in Charge? Wayne’s Carter series features four installments, but in all fairness he’s moving units in a tough climate in comparison to Hov’s Lifetime franchise. Blueprint Vs. Carter may be a fairer match-up. XXL crunched the numbers to see which Carter has the upper hand. —XXL Staff