Tha Carter III

Following the suggestion from Serving Older Teens (Anderson, 2003), I decided to include a few CDs suggested by real live teenagers. This teen’s favorite artists also included Chris Brown, Pleasure P, T.I., and Jay Sean. I chose to include Tha Carter III because it won the Grammy for Best Rap Album 2008 and track twelve, Lollipop, won Best Rap Song (Retrieved August 7, 2009 from http://www.grammy.com/GRAMMY_Awards/Winners/Results.aspx).

Artist: Lil Wayne
OCLC Number: 216934629
City and Producer: New York: Cash Money (Universal)
Copyright Date: 2008
Musician’s Website: http://www.lilwayne-online.com/

Tracklist: 1. 3Peat 2. Mr. Carter 3. A Milli 4. Got money 5. Comfortable 6. Dr. Carter 7. Phone Home 8. Tie My Hands 9. Mrs. Officer 10. Let The Beat Build 11. Shoot Me Down 12. Lollipop 13. La La 14. Pussy Monster 15. You Ain’t Got Nuthin 16. DontGetIt

Critical Evaluation: Tha Carter III is a thumping good time. The songs are catchy and complex. Lil Wayne’s lyrics are provocative and occasionally funny. His producers draw samples from a wealth of other sources, from John Axelrod’s Holy Thursday to E.T. Yet the album is a little too shiny. Lil Wayne’s music reflects the neighborhood he grew up in, but it is filtered through his success. While the album is catchy, the tunes have the feel of cannibalized originality, grit filtered through a formula.

Interest Age:
16 and Up
Curriculum Ties: Examining song lyrics is a great way to introduce teens to poetry. Tha Carter III could be examined for use of rhythm as well as descriptive language. Or course the explicit nature of Lil Wayne’s lyrics would make a tough sell in most public high schools.
Booktalking (CD Talking) Ideas: Playing teens snippets of the actual songs is a good way to peak their interest.

Genre: Rap
Other Genres: Hip Hop

Challenge Issues:
Tha Carter III is a bestselling and Grammy award winning album and its inclusion in a library may be defended on those merits. As for parents who feel it is inappropriate for their own children, Lil Wayne’s lyrics are explicit content, like it says on the label. He details sex, drugs, and violence in intimate and artistic detail, sprinkling a little misogyny on top for good measure. Rap music has often come under fire for being too explicit or graphic. Defenses have ranged from “it’s just black culture” to “music has no effect on teens anyway.” In truth rap and hip hop run the gambit, just like rock music, there are artists with many viewpoints and world views. Lil Wayne makes commercialized, gangster influenced rap. While the lyrics may be objectionable, the beats are infectious. The music is catchy and teens may enjoy it without devouring every aspect of the message in the lyrics. Some kids are influenced by music, and some are not, and some kids are influenced by certain music but not all music. Parents must examine the CD, their values, and their teen to determine if Tha Carter III is objectionable. At the very least Lil Wayne provides the opportunity for discussion.

About the Artist: Lil Wayne grew up in New Orleans. At fifteen he was a member of the group Hot Boys. Over his thirteen year career he has been on the top of the charts multiple times, and has released albums which have gone gold and platinum. (More details at http://www.lilwayne-online.com/bio.aspx)

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