It wasn't until he released the first of his 'Tha Carter' series in 2004 that New Orleans-born rapper Lil Wayne really hit critical paydirt. Displaying a maturity and precision previously lacking in his material, the 25-year-old's 'Tha Carter' and 'Tha Carter II' heralded a new approach for the Lil Wayne sound, and the third in the series - his sixth studio effort overall - has already sold well over a million copies since its recent release.
It's easy to see why, too; this is a solid album that doesn't necessarily break new ground within the genre, but changes up its style enough to keep things fresh and interesting. Carter's penchant for humour within his lyrics (and expression within his rhymes) is a welcome change from the dour, monosyllabic artists that customarily flood the charts: see his constant references to pop culture, like the Kanye West-produced Let the Beat Build ("Used to think my shit didn't stink, boy was I wrong / Approvin' million dollar deals from my iPhone") or 3Peat's "Abrakadabra, I'm up like Viagra / I just do this shit for my clique like Adam Sandler."
His knack for inventive methods is also brought to the fore, too, especially on the likes of the amusing Dr. Carter, the sunny soul-pop soundtrack of Mrs.Officer, and the zippy Got Money. Strangely, though, his biggest success to date - Lollipop - is one of the weakest, most simplistic tracks on display.
Overall, however, Lil Wayne may not be joking when he makes brazen references to 'controlling hip-hop' and being 'the best rapper alive.' If he's received the blessing of his predecessor and namesake Jay-Z, who spews: "As I share the mic with my heir" on Mr. Carter, Tha Carter III's success looks distinctly like the beginnings of world domination - even if it doesn't completely sound like it.