The role of Tha Carter series in Lil Wayne's career is kind of like the Mission: Impossible franchise in Tom Cruise's. Both performers are well past the point of being central figures in their respective fields, but still capable of commanding attention with the latest iteration of their signature brands.

In Wayne's case, the New Orleans rapper is a full decade past his most loved hit, "A Milli," released back in 2008 when calling himself "the greatest rapper alive" seemed more than just an idle boast. He's spent most of this decade tied up in contractual woes, however. The release of Tha Carter V (Young Money ***) was first said to be imminent in 2014, and Wayne has spent the intervening years keeping his fans dissatisfied with subpar mixtapes.

It would be overstating the case to say that V finds the rapper born Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. back on top of his game. But the seriousness of assembling an event release has snapped Tunechi to attention. Sure, the 23 track, 80 minute enterprise is flabby and rarely flat-out brilliant, though the soulful and sexy "Dark Side of the Moon" (not the Pink Floyd song) collaboration with Nicki Minaj is a superb use of both of their talents, and the high concept teaming with Kendrick Lamar on "Mona Lisa" showcases the verbal skills of both emcees.

V can't maintain that level of inspiration, but the album which begins with a spoken intro from Wayne's mother Jacida Carter ("I can't wait till your album come out, because everybody asking about it") is enlivened along the way by guest spots from Snoop Dogg and Ashanti, who sings on a song called "Start This S- Off Right" that, counter intuitively, is the 18th track on the album. V has begun to feel like a slog by that point, but it's worth sticking around — or skipping ahead — to the end. The final track "Let it All Work Out," which features British pianist and singer Sampha, turns out to be a deeply personal, moving song in which Wayne admits that the incident in which he shot himself in the chest when he was 12 was not an accident, but a suicide attempt.