TOP TRACK: “Let the Beat Build”
In a year that gave us landmark releases from Radiohead and Coldplay, Lil Wayne rose to the top of the pack with Tha Carter III. On it, Weezy proved that despite what Soulja Boy or Flo Rida may tell you, hip-hop doesn’t necessarily have to follow a party-ready formula to succeed. By augmenting his rhymes with a number of excellent guest performances and musical backdrops ranging from reggae (“Mr. Officer”) to modern soul (“Tie My Hands”), he crafted an album that demands attentive, repeat listening. Forget about the sales figures or the Grammy Awards, with Tha Carter III, Lil Wayne showed the world that there was still room for a creative personality in contemporary hip-hop.
— Dan Kaplan