Tha Carter II

Of all the Cash Money MC's who blew up in the Nineties, Lil Wayne has grown the most — understandably so, since he was just sixteen when he released his debut in 1999. Wayne's fifth album finds him in excellent lyrical command, whether he's dropping whimsical wordplay on ""Grown Man"" or solemn biography on the piano-tinged statement of purpose ""Fly In."" Made with relatively obscure Dirty South producers, Tha Carter II is overlong, but often thrilling: It works up soulful streetscapes (""The Mobb""), nimble reggae (""Mo Fire"") and just plain hot synth-bounce (""Fireman""). Wayne sounds his best on brash bangers like ""Money on My Mind,"" in which he gives a deliciously drawled ode to his pockets-filling mode: ""I . . . fuckin' . . . love . . . it.""