Tha Carter III, which I’m deliberately getting to late since I don’t need to worry about deadlines or reputation regarding it, sounds pretty amazing to me on two listens. The most convincing write-ups of it so far have tended to discuss its flaws in detail, like Jess in Salon, but what struck me is that it flows and coheres like an album. Sure, it’s an uneven goddamned mess. It’s an uneven goddamned mess that flows and coheres like an album. Those don’t happen so often. And the music! I wasn’t expecting such a range. Don’t ask why: maybe I figured the zillion freestyles were letting off steam; I hadn’t considered that he was probably listening to his sources very carefully, which is my fault for underestimating him and his for such a profusion of output in the first place. Who, producing that much, has time to stop and think about it? That’s how I felt, anyway, and yeah, that’s pretty arrogant, isn’t it? Critical arrogance is a pet peeve of mine, especially because I know I fall prey to it all too often. It doesn’t usually make its way into print, but it’s there, and I try to avoid it.
In my defense, though, I simply can’t believe it doesn’t take Wayne at least a little while to come up with his best stuff. I don’t think he just hoists microphone and rambles it out uncut on the spot--he's a writer, and I know how writing can be. Chemical enhancement can help (it is now, cough cough), but still, that’d have to be a LOT of punch-ins for Da Drought 3 to sound that good if he were simply winging it, and it doesn’t really sound like that. I know it’s endemic to the hip-hop faithful to silently bow to the figure who kills it without even writing anything down, and I love Wayne too, in my limited way. But I wish it weren’t so heavily romanticized--that’s why I’m not part of the hip-hop faithful. (I romanticize the hell out of the things closest to my heart, too, so I’m not making fun of anyone, just delineating my own limits of taste and formal appreciation. You know?)