Simon Vozick-Levinson
June 13, 2008 AT 04:00 AM EDT

”I’ve been working on [Tha Carter III] my whole life,” Lil Wayne told EW last summer. ”I live in the studio.” But that was almost a year ago — so why has it taken so long for the product of his labors to hit shelves? The disc’s release was postponed several times after widespread leaks online forced him to start recording again — more or less from scratch. The best leaked tracks were collected last year on unofficial mix tapes like The Drought Is Over 2, winning acclaim from critics and fans.

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