Benefitting fully from the creative renaissance the street-born Cash Money label experienced after the first Tha Carter, Careless World: Rise of the Last King is a glittery teenage dream that can slice off a little of the Lil B demographic while still being completely sellable to radio thanks to its Drake-level polish and its Watch the Throne-sized ego. That's a lot to pull off, but the aptly titled album does it, and effortlessly, although with names like Pharrell, Tha Bizness, and Cool & Dre behind the boards, the 22-year-old Tyga's got a better shot than most. He won't be mistaken for Kanye, Jay-Z, or his label boss Weezy, but while borrowing some of that Pilot Talk dreaminess from Currensy (the boast and float "I'm Gone") and allowing T-Pain, Robin Thicke, and J. Cole to bring their distinctive sounds and dominate their respective tracks, he does retain an identifiable love of the wisecrack and a chameleon-like skill that lets him go from melancholy to mean without a hitch. On top of that, Cash Money does well with those who were born on third and thought they hit a triple, and when the ego-fueled artist adds a handful of truly inspired numbers, the sky's the limit. Cool ruler Tyga surprises with the slow and royal "Black Crowns," a majestically soaring number that lasts over five minutes, one of which is given to a heartfelt answering machine message from mom. With 808s rumbling as Tyga and Nicki Minaj go hard, "Muthaf**ka Up" is an excellent pre-game anthem for defense tackles, and then there's the awfully horny, awfully dumb, and awfully infectious "Rack City" ("Rack city bitch/Rack, rack city bitch"), which will forever be required ammo for strip-club DJs. "Faded" repeats the infectious "Rack City" thing with extra filth (including a nasty Ben Wallace reference), while desirable names like Nas, Wale, and Lil Wayne are saved for the album's fourth quarter, capping off a quite long, and touch overstuffed, track list. Growth since his previous effort is obvious, both for the good (writing skills) and an arguable definition of bad (Penthouse Forum might even balk at some of the aggressive sex talk here), meaning Careless World is a case of happening label meeting able artist, so just let the expensive tape roll and leave it to the audience to sort out. In this case, it's well worth it.
© David Jeffries /TiVo