Album: Lil Wayne, Tha Carter III (Cash Money)

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The Independent Culture

With MTV, Rolling Stone and Blender magazines, and even Kanye West conceding he's the hottest rapper, and his MySpace site becoming the first to clock up a hundred million visits, no act currently has their finger as firmly on the pulse of contemporary American culture as Dwayne "Lil Wayne" Carter, whose long-delayed sixth album finally appears following extensive leaks last year.

Recorded with the usual array of star producers, including Kanye, Swizz Beatz, Alchemist and Cool & Dre, it employs Wayne's lubricious drawl, heavily vocoderised on the singles "Lollipop" and "Got Money", tackling familiar hip-hop targets with ease, but excelling on more individual tracks such as "Dr Carter" and "Mrs Officer". Best of all is "Tie My Hands", a furious indictment of the treatment of his beleaguered hometown: "Take away the football team, the basketball team / Now all we got is me to represent New Orleans / No governor, no help from the mayor / Just a steady beatin' heart and a wish and a prayer".

Pick of the album:'Tie My Hands', 'Mrs Officer', 'Dr Carter', 'Playing With Fire'