Ah, The Carter III. Was there a more polarizing rap release in 2008? One need only look up any of the album’s tracks on Youtube, and the vicious arguments in the comments section will speak for themselves. It seems many internet users hate Weezy so much they spend significant amounts of time searching out forums to defame him. And of course on the other hand there’re the Weezy stans, who will defend dude’s honor to the death, as if he were the second coming of Rakim. I was living in Argentina throughout 2008, so I kind of missed the album’s impact, but I remember being puzzled as it topped so many critics’s year-end lists. I remembered Wayne from the days of “wobbly, wobbly, drop, drop it like it’s hot,” and had a hard time believing he had morphed into some super emcee. It wasn’t until about a month ago that I finally copped Carter III and started getting familiar. And I gotta say it is a dope album, quite possibly the year’s best (sorry, Stretch.)
But the album’s best moment? Doesn’t even belong to Wayne. Hidden near the end of Carter III‘s 70-plus-minute run is “You Ain’t Got Nuthin,” an Alchemist-produced banger seemingly better suited to a Mobb Deep joint than to something as spaced-out as Weezy’s opus. And while Wayne lends the track a surprisingly effective auto-tuned chorus, it’s guest rapper Fabolous who steals the show. That’s right, Fabolous, Mr. “Trade It All” and the go-to-guy for crappy r&b crossover records. Leading with the first verse, Fab absolutely destroys this track, leaving fellow guest Juelz Santana and even Weezy himself struggling to make an impression. It’s the kind of verse that almost gets you pumped for a rapper’s album, until you remember that this rapper, a la Jadakiss, is seemingly incapable of releasing an album free of r&b hooks and unnecessary guest appearances. Case in point. I doubt Fab will win many rave reviews with the forthcoming Loso’s Way, but at least dude can say he outshined 2008’s critical darling on the man’s own LP. That’s certainly more than can be said for Busta Rhymes.