Four Years of ‘Carter V’ False Starts: The Complicated History of Lil Wayne’s New Album
Lil Wayne's Tha Carter V album has been embroiled in more drama than a Game of Thrones episode, but Weezy is once again teasing a release for the long-awaited album. We've compiled a timeline of some of the key moments that have followed the phantom release of Tha Carter V over the last four years - and counting.
The album, which has been heading our way since March of 2014, has had plenty of stops and starts, notably a $51 million lawsuit against Wayne's former label, Cash Money, a shooting, a mixtape, another album and a few leaked tracks. But it's still unclear who is featured on the project; Drake has appeared on two of the songs that have officially surfaced, while Kendrick Lamar showed up on one of the leaked tracks and Lil Twist said in 2017 that Mannie Fresh was involved again.
Fans have wondered if it was ever going to come out, but then, at a show in a Miami back in June of 2018, Wayne said the wait was almost over.
“Just to let y’all know I had a meeting today, it wasn’t a long meeting,” he told the audience at the Story nightclub. “Just so y’all know the meeting was about the release date of Tha Carter fucking V.”
Who knows if or when the album will actually drop. With the slew of major releases from hip-hop's biggest names—Drake, Nas, Black Thought, Jay-Z and an upcoming project from Nicki Minaj—summer seems as good a time as any for Wayne to finally put it out. And now that he's free from Cash Money, Weezy seems liberated to do whatever he wants, and give the people what they've been asking for since 2014.
March 2014: Wayne Announces the Album Is Dropping
Lil Wayne first mentioned the album in March 2014, telling Elliott Wilson of CRWN that he is "approaching it like it is my last project. I think that's why it's a lot different than everything else, I think that's why the grind is different, that's why I'm working harder. I'm approaching it a whole lot different; I'm approaching it as if I don't have tomorrow." However, he didn't give any indication when it would be available.
April 2014: Kobe Bryant Promotes It
There were a few false starts after the initial announcement from Wayne but when Kobe Bryant went on Twitter to tease it, things seemed pretty real.
"Carter V season begins," he tweeted in 2014, along with an image that was originally believed to be the artwork, but subsequently denied by Wayne's manager, Cortez Bryant.
April 2014: Wayne and Drake Seen in Studio
Two days after Kobe's tweet, boxer Floyd Mayweather posted a 15-second video to Instagram of Lil Wayne and Drake working together. "#Carter V Season. #BelieveMe," he wrote in the caption. The post has since been deleted.
May 2014: "Believe Me" Released as First Single
A day after Mayweather's leak, Lil Wayne uploaded the same video to his YouTube channel and confirmed that the track featuring Drake, and production by Boi-1da and Vinylz, "Believe Me," would be the first single. It dropped a few days later.
August 2014: "Grindin'" and "Krazy" Released
On Aug. 8, another track recorded with Drake, "Grindin'," dropped. A few days later, Weezy put out a video for "Krazy," which echoed the 1975 Jack Nicholson film One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Both songs, as well as as "Believe Me," were eventually removed from the Internet, although naturally they have since re-emerged.
August 2014: Oct. 28 Announced as the Official Drop Date
Lil Wayne showed up on ESPN's SportsCenter and announced that Tha Carter V would come out on Oct. 28 to coincide with the start of the NBA season. He also revealed the cover art, a photo of him and his mother Cita. “This album means a lot to me," he said. "People been waiting on this album and I’m just at the point in my life and stuff to have my mom on there. It’s more than an accomplishment, it’s an achievement.”
October 2014: Album Delayed but Wayne Gifts "Gotti"
A day before the scheduled release date, Wayne said that he was delaying the album, and was splitting it up into two parts, with the first coming on Dec. 9. "I recorded so many songs for this album," he said, "we had to come up with a way to get all the music out there not just 12 or 13 songs." To make up for it, he dropped a new single, "Gotti," featuring Styles P and Jadakiss of the Lox.
December 2014: Weezy Wants Off Cash Money
On the eve of its intended release, Lil Wayne blamed Cash Money for refusing to put out the album. "To all my fans, I want u to know that my album won't and hasn't been released bekuz Baby & Cash Money Rec. refuse to release it," he tweeted. "This is not my fault. I am truly and deeply sorry to all my fans but most of all to myself and my family for putting us in this situation....I want off this label and nothing to do with these people but unfortunately it ain't that easy."
December 2014: Fans Start a Petition for the Album's Release
A day after Wayne blasted Cash Money, fans started an online petition demanding its release. "We would like to take the time to request that Baby & Cash Money Records consider releasing Lil Wayne aka Lil Tunechi new album for the holidays," it read. "We the fans have truly been looking forward to a new release and hope you will reconsider your decision not to release it. Thank you so much in advance for your consideration."
January 2015: Lil Wayne Tells Fans "Sorry 4 the Wait 2" on New Mixtape
After two announced release dates came and went, he put out a mixtape called Sorry 4 the Wait 2. It contains many lyrics directed at Cash Money and co-founder Baby, aka Birdman, and hints that he's looking for a new label. "The garden’s full of snakes so I had to escape,” he raps on "CoCo," later adding, "Did my time in Cash Money, time served and released / But this agent ain’t free, word, that’s the word on these streets."
January 2015: Tunechi Prepares $8 Million Suit Against Cash Money
TMZ reports that Wayne is about to file an $8 million lawsuit against Birdman after negotiations between the two parties break down. He also wants to take artists who are on his Young Money imprint, including Nicki Minaj, Drake, Lil Twist, Christina Milian and Mack Maine, with him. But a few days later, that figure would increase exponentially.
January 2015: Wayne Files a $51 Million Lawsuit Against Birdman
By the time 2015 rolled around, it pretty clear just how bad things had gotten between Baby and Wayne, who once boasted a "father-son" dynamic. Wayne filed a whopping $51 million lawsuit against Birdman, accusing the Cash Money CEO of owing him millions and hemming up the release of Tha Carter V. In addition to the money, he also wants to be declared the joint copyright owner of all Young Money recordings.
February 2015: Carter V Season Becomes Free Weezy Season
Possibly as a way of getting back at Birdman, Wayne tweeted that he was going to be giving away an album. "Free album. Free Weezy season. The Free Weezy Album. #FWA," he wrote. It came out in July, exclusively on Tidal.
February 2015: "It's Nothing That a Good Blunt Can't Cure"
Weezy made his first public statements about the lawsuit in an interview with Rolling Stone. “I have no words,” he said. “I’m super-numb to it, to tell you the truth. ... I’m human. But it’s nothing that a good blunt can’t cure." He added that the completed Tha Carter V is "a jewel in the safe. It’s that stash-house money," and that he was devoting his time to finishing up The Free Weezy Album.
March 2015: Combat Jack Explain's Weezy's Cash Money Contract
Former entertainment lawyer Reggie Ossé, who writes under the name Combat Jack, went through the details of Lil Wayne's lawsuit against Cash Money. Tunechi was supposed to receive an $8 million advance for Tha Carter V, plus an extra $2 million upon its completion. But according to Wayne's court documents, he only received $2 million, which explains why he was originally going to sue for the remaining $8 million. The other $43 million, Wayne claimed, was his share of the profits from the Young Money artists that he brought to Birdman.
April 2015: Lil Wayne's Tour Bus Shot, Birdman and Young Thug Indicted for Conspiracy
After a show at an Atlanta club, the buses carrying Lil Wayne and crew were shot at multiple times while rolling down I-285. Fortunately, nobody was injured. In May, a 25-year-old named Jimmy Carlton Winfrey, who had once been Young Thug's road manager, was arrested, and the police stated that it was an attempt to impress the Bloods. Six weeks later, Birdman and Thug were indicted for plotting to kill Lil Wayne.
June 2015: Lil Wayne Goes for "Glory"
The first taste of the Free Weezy Album was "Glory," which came out exclusively on Tidal. It was produced by Avenue Beatz.
July 2015: Wayne Declares His Independence With the Free Weezy Album
Five months after first announcing it and a month after "Glory" arrived, the remaining 14 songs on the Free Weezy Album appeared on Tidal, somewhat symbolically, on July 4. It featured contributions from Wiz Khalifa, Cory Gunz, Jeezy and Junior Reid.
Birdman reacted by filing his own suit against Tidal for $50 million, on the grounds that Cash Money owned the exclusive rights to Lil Wayne's music. Tidal claimed that they got permission from Weezy in exchange for an ownership stake in the company.
July 2015: Birdman's Pals Reportedly Throw Water Bottles at Wayne
During a show at Miami's Club LIV, bottles of water were thrown at Lil Wayne, with some in attendance saying they came from members of Birdman's entourage. Birdman eventually denied that it came from his crew. "That was a disrespect towards him," he said. "That shit got checked ASAP. I'm not going to let that happen to my family. They know what Wayne mean to me. They know what I mean to him. That's my son."
July 2015: Baby Finally Responds
Birdman finally spoke about how the lawsuit affected him. "It was shocking to everybody," he said. "No one's ever said nothing ever about me -- in no lifetime. You never thought Wayne would be saying nothing negative about me in no lifetime. I never thought that could ever happen -- for that man to open his mouth and say something negative about me. I love my son. He mean the world to me. For that man to say something negative about me, that affected my life.”
He also denied that he was involved in the tour bus shooting a few months earlier. "That's the craziest shit I heard in my life," he said.
January 2016: An Apparent Truce
Baby and Wayne were spotted partying together at the LIV Club in Miami, giving the impression that they had settled their differences. "This my motherfucking son and I'ma die for him," Birdman told the crowd. "I'ma live for him and I'ma motherfucking kill for him. Ya heard me? That ain't never gonna change, n----s. It's YMCMB for life."
May 2016: Weezy Leads "Fuck Cash Money" Chant
The peace only lasted four months. During his headlining slot at the 420 Rally in Denver, Lil Wayne led the crowd in a call-and-response chant of "Fuck the bullshit. Fuck Cash Money." The timing of Wayne riling up the crowd coincided with the reported end of another unsuccessful round of talks between the two parties. Two months later, the offending phrase was spotted on a baseball cap he was wearing.
September 2016: Birdman Denies Having the Master Tapes
A year and a half after saying that Birdman was holding up the release of Tha Carter V, the label head said that he never could have put it out because Wayne still has the master recordings. He added that Weezy would not hand them over until they had worked out their disagreement over the money.
October 2016: Manager Says Wayne Wanted to Release Tha Carter V for Free
Wayne's manager Cortez Bryant revealed that part of the disagreement between the two sides involved Lil Wayne's desire to release it as a streaming-only album on Google Play for free, but Baby and his Cash Money co-founder Slim were against it. "They basically told me 'Yo, we can't put the album out,'" Bryant said. "When I had to tell Wayne that, he was like 'What? You can't stop me, you can't hold me back. I got to tell my fans because they don't deserve this and I'm 'bout to air it out. Before I got off the phone to call his lawyer to let him know we was about to have some shit, TMZ was on the other line."
December 2016: Martin Shkreli Leaks a Few Songs
Martin Shkreli, the pharmaceutical CEO who bought Wu-Tang Clan's infamous Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, went on Periscope claiming that he had acquired a copy of Tha Carter V and played some of the tracks. Wayne's camp launched an investigation into how the "pharma bro" acquired it. He added that it was the two-CD version Wayne had first talked about in October 2014, and that it was a legitimate sale. It would later be reported that the copy was left in a car that Wayne sold somebody, and the purchaser, in turn, offered it to Shkreli.
Shkreli promised Wayne that there would be no more leaks, but he went back on his word in May, offering snippets of two more tracks, including "Mona Lisa," a collaboration with Kendrick Lamar. Weezy responded by sending out a cease-and-desist letter to Shkreli, with a promise to sue if it happened again. In March 2018, Shkreli was sentenced to seven years in prison after being convicted of securities fraud.
January 2017: Birdman Says The Carter V Is Coming ... Again
Despite the lawsuit drama between him and Wayne, Birdman insisted in early 2017 that he still respected Wayne as an artist and that his label planned to release The Carter V.
"It's definitely coming out," the Cash Money boss said during an interview on Beats 1 Radio. "The situation with me and my son, I'm going to put it all behind us and just let it move forward. Wayne is one of the best artists ever to do the game, and I want to see him continue to do what he been doing, and I'm going to support whatever he's doing."
April 2017: Wayne Hints That He's Signed With Roc Nation
During a concert in Dallas, Wayne told the audience that it was on the way, hinting that he had signed with Roc Nation. In August, he said that it was done and was just waiting for the right moment to drop it.
July 2017: Wayne Adds Another Charge to the Lawsuit
Lil Wayne filed an amended petition in a New Orleans court claiming that Birdman and Slim conspired to keep him from receiving a portion of the profits for the Young Money artists, per the 2003 agreement that led to the founding of Young Money.
August 2017: Lil Twist Claims He's Heard Tha Carter V
“C5 is fucking crazy,” Lil Twist told HipHopDX. “I can’t wait ‘til y’all hear it. I’m the only person outside of him that got it on my phone. It’s fucking crazy. It’s berserk. He got a lot of features on that. He working with Mannie Fresh on the album again. That’s gonna be good for the people.”
March 2018: Wayne and Birdman Hug It Out
Once again the LIV Club was the site of an apparent detente between the warring parties. A since-deleted video was posted to Instagram in which Baby and Weezy were standing next to each other, followed by Birdman hugging Wayne and saying something to him, which was met by Wayne nodding his head. Two weeks later, Birdman shared a photo of the two of them with the caption, "Me and my son."
June 2018: Wayne Leaves Cash Money, Drops Lawsuit
By June 2018, Lil Wayne's lawyer filed a motion to dismiss his suit against Cash Money, suggesting that a settlement had been reached. While there has been no official announcement, it's believed that he received $10 million and his freedom from Cash Money in exchange for dropping the suit. Birdman and Wayne even became friends again.
July 2018: Tha Carter V Billboard Revealed as Fake
A photo of a billboard that seemed to promote Tha Carter V began making the rounds on Twitter in July, with text that read "THE F IS FOR FIVE," with an emphasized V in five. Fans jumped at the idea that Lil Wayne's long-awaited album is finally imminent, but it was quickly revealed that someone had photoshopped a Postmates billboard from 2016.