At Sundance: The Carter
The world premier of The Carter, Adam Bhala Lough’s intimate documentary about rapper Lil’ Wayne, was possibly one of the most highly anticipated Sundance debut’s, documentary or otherwise. It was hyped up to be shockingly intimate and revealing, promising to show audiences a side of the artist they had never seen on MTV or read in any article. For this reason, I think many of the filmgoers who left the midnight premier at Eccles Theatre were disappointed. “I didn’t really learn anything new” I heard several people moan, as though expected him to explain the story behind every tear drop tattooed on his face and do cocaine on camera.
I, on the other hand, never expected a tell-all from such a high profile artist with a history of drug dealing and gang related activity– such revelations would pose a very serious threat to his safety! I also didn’t anticipate any tabloid worthy confessions about his love life, and actually respected the fact that he stayed mum about it. Instead, I was hoping to for more insight on Lil’ Wayne as a musician, which as far as I’m concerned is the most fascinating and complicated aspect of his persona.
Keeping my expectations realistic, I left the theatre very content, and enjoyed every dynamic, musically charged moment of The Carter.
For those unfamiliar with Lil’ Wayne, he has slowly but surely proved himself the most innovative and hardest working artist on the music scene. With his raw, raspy voice, bizarre rhymes and masterfully produced beats, Weezy has created a very eccentric yet marketable sound for himself. Not to mention, having a ridiculous amount of singles and collaborations released on the radio at one time, he achieves both quantity and quality, all through an unorthodox means of writing and recording his music. How Lil’ Wayne does what he does is what the documentary was most successful in revealing. Bhala Lough focused on the rappers’ obsession with constantly recording, be it on the bus, in a studio, or a hotel room. In doing so, I think he revealed the essence of Lil’ Wayne’s INHERENT genius as a musician, whose mind works on autopilot. Not only does Lil’ Wayne devote little time to characterizing his style, or reference any influences, but he doesn’t even write down lyrics before recording, and unlike other rappers refuses to call himself a poet. These qualities are practically unheard of amongst musicians; they are what make Lil’ Wayne the enigma that he is, and why he deserves to be investigated through a documentary, as opposed to his past, which is typical, almost predictable, in the world or hip hop.
While the informative level of the documentary was up to par, I felt that the aesthetic component was even stronger. Even for those disappointed by a so called lack of intimacy, it must have been impossible not to be entertained by the sleek and glossy style of filming and editing, appropriately resembling a music video at times, and accompanied by a high energy soundtrack of Lil’ Wayne’s songs. It was also very evident that the director and subject of the documentary had a very good working relationship, so Bhala Lough was able to capture a very relaxed, candid, and jovial portrait of the rapper, who in no way seemed inconvenienced or guarded in his presence.
I would strongly recommend this film to music lovers in general. Even for those who aren’t sure what to make of the eccentric, yet highly exposed rapper, whose music has seemingly taken over the radio– this film is guaranteed to put his body of work into perspective.
Tags: Anastassia Smordinskaya