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’08 WAS GREAT!: Lil’ Wayne, Artist of the Year?

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Let me begin by saying that I like Lil’ Wayne. I’ve met Lil’ Wayne, and, yes, he’s a very friendly guy. He’s got a magnetic personality, and his demeanor alone could sell a few thousand albums. That being said, it still zaps my mind (much like that vein tattoo on Lil’ Wayne’s forehead) that he became music’s most praised star in 2008. And we’re not just talking about Dwayne Carter getting fist pounds from fellow hip-hoppers. He was loved by the pop set, mainstream music lovers, and even–no lie–the indie elite. (A certain Chicago emcee/producer is secretly wiping his brow and readjusting his Pee-Wee Herman suit jacket).

(left: Somehow, someway, Lil’ Wayne conquered the world in 2008.)

To be honest, when Lil’ Wayne’s brand new album, Tha Carter III, was released earlier this year I didn’t pay much attention to it. I gave the album a quick listen, wasn’t blown out of the box, and continued to listen to all the other music I had to listen to. I was actually a bit disappointed, cause I wanted to love Lil’ Wayne’s new album. For someone who’s not into hip-hop as much as I used to be, it’s fun to latch on to a current hip-hop star, cause it makes you feel, well, current.

While I was dismissing Tha Carter III, America was doing just the opposite. In a CD industry on life support, the album sold 400,000 copies in its opening day (which even drew a surprised response from 50 Cent). The disc went on to become one of the top selling albums of 2008 and even landed on several critics’ year-end, best-of lists. SPIN named Lil’ Wayne “Rock Star of the Year” and Pitchfork Media, the bastion of all things indie, named Tha Carter III their #11 album of 2008 (beating out efforts from music blog darlings Lykke Li, Santogold, and even–Kanye West).

Lil’ Wayne was everywhere in 2008. He was nominated for eight Grammy Awards (more than any other artist this year), he got ample face time on MTV’s VMA show (even sharing the stage with Kid Rock), performed live on SNL, was appearing on other aritsts’ tracks in the same fervor as Akon, inspired Michael Phelps to swim to eight gold medal victories (getting name-dropped on a nightly basis at the Olympic Games), and even during my Christmas shopping I couldn’t avoid Lil Wayne, as I was given a free Tha Carter III velvet black-light poster in my Virgin Megastore shopping bag.

In the midst of Lil Wayne madness I decided to revisit Tha Carter III. I gave it a couple more listens, and–still–nothing.

I was blind to its genius.

What was the rest of the world seeing that I couldn’t see? The production didn’t seem out of the ordinary (lots of rolling drum fills, some vocoder, and dirty-south-ready synth loops), the lyrics, many times, dipped into familiar hip-hop territory, with rhymes about getting your dick sucked and getting shot, and Tha Carter III may also be the first album in history to get nominated for Grammy’s Album Of The Year Award, despite possessing a track titled “Pussy Monster.”

I understand why Lil’ Wayne has dominated the world of hip-hop in 2008, but it’s still a mystery how he won over serious music critics. His guitar playing skills are almost insulting (though I do see a smidgen of punk rock in thought process), his 24-year old voice sometimes sounds like an ailing old man, and his biggest hit of the year was one he did with T-Pain (and doing a track with T-Pain is about as original as a tabloid magazine putting Britney Spears on the front cover).

Maybe it’s his tight jeans and tattoos?

Maybe it’s his don’t-give-a-fuck-do-it-yourself attitude?

Maybe I have to listen to the album again?

Maybe I still won’t get it after I do…

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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