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Lil Wayne 

Tha Carter III (Young Money/Cash Money/Universal)


Tha Carter III is destined to become a stoner classic, and it should silence any critic who thought Lil Wayne could never make a cohesive album. The raspy-voiced rapper's vision and self-confidence have improved exponentially since the humorless mishmash of styles on 2005's Tha Carter II. This is pop-rap to giggle over and marvel at — from "Phone Home" (where Wayne blasts way off into outer space) to the filthy nursery rhyme "La La" to the 10-minute record closer "Dontgetit," in which Wayne disses Al Sharpton and dishes on his child-molesting next-door neighbor.

Through it all, Lil Wayne — not so surprisingly — sounds high. Which probably explains Tha Carter III's many throwaway lines: "I ain't kinda hot/I'm sauna/I sweat money/And the bank is my shower." But the record has many great ones too, and it never stops being weird. Cuts like "Mr. Carter" and "Got Money" elevate Tha Carter III right up there with Dark Side of the Moon and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road — albums that are classics not in spite of, but because of, their grandiose absurdity.

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