Lil Wayne’s ‘Tha Carter III’ Recounted Through Oral History For 5th Anniversary

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Five years ago, a then-25-year-old Lil Wayne capped off an inhuman run of mixtapes, guest features and unofficial leaks with the release of the biggest (in sound and stature) album of the late 2000s, Tha Carter III. It’s often overlooked that by the time he released the third part of his Carter series, Wayne had been a working rapper for close to a decade, as the youngest and most energetic member of Cash Money Records and its wily quartet the Hot Boys. Not only had Wayne been exposed to different styles, sounds and proper ways to create records in that span of time, he’d been practicing and perfecting his craft via a consistent output of mixtapes and studio albums, making the greatness of Tha Carter III all but inevitable.

At the time of its release, much of the hype surrounding Tha Carter III mentioned its incredible sales numbers—it sold over a million copies in its first week, a feat that hadn’t been accomplished in hip-hop since 50 Cent’s 2005 LP, The Massacre—but listening back on the album, it’s more a cultural touchstone than a commercial success story. By pulling together a diversely talented crew of collaborators, Wayne—who reportedly recorded over 300 songs for CIII—slowly and painstakingly curated a well-rounded album that plays as more of a greatest hits compilation than an execution of a singular idea.

With contributions from icons like Swizz Beatz, Kanye West and even Jay-Z—who figuratively passed the torch to Wayne as rap’s new key-holder on their fittingly titled anthem “Mr. Carter”—Weezy got more than just co-signs of his greatness; he got an open door to the next floor of the building, the superstar floor. With Tha Carter III, he cemented himself as a new legend while aggressively asserting, “Next time you mention Pac, Biggie or Jay-Z, don’t forget Weezy baby!” In any conversation about rap’s elite since, we haven’t forgotten to mention Weezy.

To celebrate the five-year anniversary of Tha Carter III, XXL pulled together a group of collaborators who played an instrumental role in the making of the album to discuss our eight favorite tracks, in which they shed light on the recording process, the unfortunate number of leaks leading up to the album’s release and the legacy of Tha Carter III, five years later. Click through to check out what they had to say.

“3 Peat” | “Mr. Carter” | “A Milli” | “Got Money”

“Mrs. Officer” | “Let The Beat Build” | “Lollipop” | “La La”

Importance of Tha Carter III | Is It Wayne’s Best Album?

  • BrianRaider

    This Shit Is Dope As Fuck! I Always Love The Articles & Reviews Here But This Is Prolly My Favortie Of 2013 So Far! I Loved The Carter 3! I Would Say It’s One Of His Classics! My Favorite Wayne ALbum Of All Time And I Think Is His Best Is the 1st Carter! You Guys Touched On Some Key Moments Of Making This Album That I Didn’t Realize Or Know! Wayne Is My Favorite Living Rapper! I Grew Up On Lil Wayne! That’s Funny Because We Are The Same Age Basically! Reading This Entire Article Took Me Back To 2008! 2008 Was A Bad Year For Me But There’s Always The Music & Wayne Took It To Another Level. I Remember At The Time I Was Hoping Mannie Or Drumma Boy, Or Timbaland Would Be On There But It Was Stellar Without Them. Drumma Was On A Tirade In 07 & 08 So I Figured Hed Be In There. Shouts Out To Wayne & Stunna For Puttin Out Such Dope Product! But This Article Is Helluva I Really Enjoyed It!

  • Arkitekt702

    Dick riding to its fullest

    • cain45

      hater carter 3 classic

      • Arkitekt702

        Really? Out of all the hip hop albums that were released in 2008, you’re going to say Carter 3 was classic. Shit was real mediocre.

        The Preface, The Renaissance, Pain Language, When Life Gives You Lemons, The Evil Jeanius, Untitled (Nigger), Grey Hairs, Megagraphitti…all shit on that album.

    • Alonzo Boone

      Hating faggot.

  • raytarded

    Carter 3 was amazing but Carter 2 was better! Wayne’s best work so far, classic material!

  • mistah dubs

    always thought why the hype and could not get into it when he was blowing up and in fact kinda felt like why is this catching on? I mean carter 1 and 2 were alright but there was always some other artist out there that was a lot better in 08 it seemed as though I guess mainstream hip hop was at a major loss Wayne is sooo unbelievably overrated its disgusting he tries way too hard to may similes and metaphors that just sound flat out stupid and laughable I admire the grind he put in since that takes a lot of dedication but the work put out was very mediocre Quality >>>>>>>> Quantity the only rapper to record a lot of quality music in a short time frame and leave a true mark by containing substance throughout his music was the ever influential Tupac Shakur most artists who are amongst the greatest flesh over a course of time and sure I guess he improved since I did like what I heard off carter 1 and 2 but he really fell off hard after that he just proves that nowadays any idiot swag rapper can get to the top of the charts with absolutely no creativity and substance nor talent The only dudes in mainstream hip hop right now killing it are Kendrick Lamar and Black Hippy as well as J.Cole, Big KRIT, Kid Cudi and ASAP Rocky and the legends Eminem and Jay as well as the Wu Tang and Kanye at times other than that I don’t know man

    • hussle

      wayne’s best songs can stack up to jay and ems and the wu members best songs.

  • Kizman

    Wayne used to be top 5 (in 2005-08), now he’s not even top 50!

  • jon

    Wayne isn’t even a talented rapper. its why he auto tunes and affects his voice so much. he also has repetitive subject matter, even though he hires a team of fucking GHOST WRITERS. the only all time list he belongs on is most over- rated

    • hussle

      wayne doenst have ghostwriters stop talking out your ass

  • jango boy

    WOW

    LIL WAYNE CANT WALK IN THE SAME HOOD AS
    BIGGIE,NAS,JAY,PAC……

    WTF

  • jango boy

    WHY IM HERE?

  • jango boy

    IF YALL MENTIO YEEZY IN YOUR RAP CONVERSATION

    IMO

  • williambrujan

    Lil Wayne are you fucking serious? You guys dick ride the worse garbage pointless music out there…thats y i hate all this commercial shit cause its fake as shit and brain washing? Comparing Lil Wayne to the greats…Pac would be disgusted!