I’ve never been a fan of trilogies. I read the first Harry Potter book at age 10 and loved it, but didn’t keep up with the barrage of books that followed. Call it laziness, or perhaps a lack of focus in those playful years of basketball leagues, Crazy Bones (if you are a 90’s baby you know what I’m talking about) and Pokemon Cards, but, regardless, I didn’t geek out when The Chamber of Secrets was thrust into book stores, libraries and year end book lists in 1998.
Throughout my childhood years, leading into the end of middle school, I heard constant talk among my classmates about when the next book was going to come out, the rumor that a movie was in the works, and who was going to play Harry. You’d think after the constant murmurs I would finally give in and read, or at least watch more than one book or movie. But I didn’t.
This didn’t just go for Harry Potter, but also The Lord of the Rings and any superhero movie that has a part two (or three, or four…) Some time ago I realized that I didn’t grab The Chamber of Secrets because I didn’t feel a need to. I just didn’t care about what happened next. The story may have grabbed my attention for awhile, but nothing was pulling me in for the long haul. It wasn’t until I seriously delved into hip hop that it became a necessity to immediately download and consume new releases from the artist that drew me to the genre in the first place: Lil Wayne.
Most hip hop heads know the story. Lil Wayne and Bryan “Birdman” Williams met in 1991, the year Cash Money Records was founded. Soon after, (1995 to be precise) both Birdman and co-label owner Ronald “Slim” Williams signed Lil Wayne alongside B.G. and Young Buck. He joined the Hot Boys which included Juvenile, B.G. and Turk and put out two well received albums. Wayne decided to head into solo territory and dropped his debut Tha Block Is Hot followed by Lights Out and 500 Degreez.
I was only 13 when Tha Carter was released and 14 when Tha Carter II sold more than 238,000 copies in it’s first week. Embarrassingly, I was head over heels in love with Fall Out Boy’s From Under The Cork Tree (which was, in all honesty, a pretty good album) and only had CDs from Ja Rule. My brother and his friends were avid users of Limewire so I burned CDs off of his downloaded tracks which included “In Da Club,” Yeah!” and “Slow Jamz” among others. But, they were singles, the best cuts off of an album.
It wasn’t until I got my full dose of “Mixtape Weezy” that I started to become interested in full albums from the self proclaimed “Best Rapper Alive.” After hearing loose cuts from these tapes such as “Prostitute Flange,” “Ridin With the AK” “I Feel Like Dying” and “Promise” I became solely focused on getting his newest project right when it dropped.
I remember the first time I heard “I’m Me” off of The Leak EP which I bought directly from iTunes. I was in a hotel in Chicago the day after Christmas, although I am not sure why. Having obsessively tracked down most of Lil Wayne’s official and non-official albums, I was constantly checking iTunes for a new release from him. Oh, how naive I was back then. After downloading the EP and connecting my iPod, I put on my crappy Apple headphones and pressed play:
“Unfuckin’ believable, Little Wayne’s the president
Fuck ‘em, fuck ‘em, fuck ‘emEven if they celibate
I know the game is crazy, It’s more crazy than it’s ever been
I’m married to that crazy bitch
Call me Kevin Federline”
I knew this was next level Weezy. It wasn’t until years later that I learned The Leak sold on iTunes was actually composed of tracks that were going to be on Tha Carter III but were, of course, “leaked” onto unofficial mixtapes. Wayne was even planning on adding on more tracks and releasing it as a second album, but the idea never came to fruition.
After hearing this track I poured over Google, looking for the release date of the new album (if there was one) the consensus was that Tha Carter III was supposed to release in 2007, but was now delayed to March 18th, 2008. I was a little heartbroken as I had to wait another 4 months. After pouring over Wayne’s mixtape cuts already in my iPod, I thought about songs like “Fireman” and “Go DJ” that I had heard echoing in my brother’s room down the hall from me. I knew they were on Lil Wayne albums, ones I hadn’t heard, so I decided to go back on iTunes and do some research. The rest is self explanatory. I inhaled the first two Carter albums and became 10x more excited for Tha Carter III.
In the years since I have listened to almost every album/mixtape Lil Wayne has put out. Yes, even Rebirth. In the last year or so, not so much, but I Am Not A Human Being, Dedication 4 and Free Weezy among many others have all been given a spin or two. Tha Carter trilogy will go down as my favorite span of Lil Wayne’s career. While friends were begging me to see the last Harry Potter movie, I was putting off homework and family dinner’s to listen to a trilogy I will always make time for.