Kate's Notes

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Lil' Wayne

Lil' Wayne

Dwayne Michael Carter Jr (born September 27, 1982 in New Orleans, Louisiana), better known as Lil' Wayne, got hip-hop fans attentions when he came into the spotlight as the youngest boy in the young rapping group, Hot Boys in the late 1990s. Since then he has become an American, Grammy-nominated rapper, and has achieved a steady stream of best selling albums, and a lucrative solo career. He went onto produce several top-ten albums on the Billboard 200 Chart, and earned the respect of his pears as a lyrist and beat-master.

He has also become the CEO of Young Money Entertainment and the president of the New Orleans-based label Cash Money Records; the very same record company he idolized as a child, and which gave him his first break. He has come a long way since the beginning of his rapping career, and, given his young age, will continue to flourish for years to come.

Early Life

Born in the poverty-stricken and crime-ridden Hollygrove section of New Orleans, Louisiana, which is part of the 17th Ward, Wayne’s biological father left him when he was an infant; subsequently Reginald "Rabbit" Carter acted as his stepfather until the age of sixteen. Even though crime, and substance abuse was all around him, Wayne struggled to keep off the streets and to stay in school.

Wayne's first contact with hip-hop was listening to local Cash Money artists such as Pimp Daddy and U.N.L.V.; he credits both of their names as his earliest influences. He first started rapping at block parties around his neighborhood; at one of these impromptu performances an earlier Cash Money Records artist who was from the same neighborhood as Lil Wayne, Lil Slim, took notice; he gave Wayne the Cash Money Records phone number. Wayne then accompanied Lil Slim on an autograph signing session, where he met Cash Money Records owners, Brian "Baby" Williams and Ronald "Slim" Williams for the first time. His free styling, rhyming abilities impressed the Williams brothers; however, they did not sign the 11 year old to their record company immediately. Instead of letting the obstacle discourage him, Wayne began calling the company and recording some of his freestyle rapping on Baby Williams’s answering machine, in addition to lurking around the Cash Money offices nearly every day in order to convince the brothers to sign him to their record label. His dedication paid off, and Baby Williams became impressed by Wayne’s tenacity and finally signed him to Cash Money Records; he then acquainted him with another newcomer Lil' Doogie (who would later become famous as B.G.) to form group The B.G.'z. The group released their first and only album, True Story, in 1995. Wayne then dropped out of school at the age of 13, in order to fully pursue a music career.

However, unlike many child rappers, such as Lil' Romeo and Bow Wow who performed bubblegum rap until their late teens, Wayne did not rap about adolescent issues. Though, he did refrain from swearing in his rhymes out of respect for his mother’s wishes.

Hot Boys: 1997 - 1999

Formed in 1997, the Hot Boys consisted of four rappers from the same neighborhood of New Orleans, Louisiana. Two of the four, B.G. and Juvenile, were already regionally successful, each having spent several years making a name for themselves in the local rap scene. Young Turk and Lil’ Wayne, where the two new comers: critics said that they both rapped with a polished style that belied their age and inexperience. The Hot Boys' output was significantly similar, in personnel as well as musical direction, to the group members' solo albums. This, coupled with the fact that all four rappers were signed to the same label, made the Hot Boys as much a marketing ploy than an actual group.

In 1997, the foursome released their debut album, Get it How U Live, on the then-independent Cash Money Records. The Hot Boys limited themselves to typical gangsta topics: guns, sex, and money. However, the four rappers' entertaining and varied deliveries and original backing tracks (provided by in-house producer Mannie Fresh) separated their release from numerous similarly themed releases. Despite little or no commercial exposure, Get it How U Live quickly sold over 400,000 copies, primarily in the mid-South; following B.G.'s national success, the album was reissued nationally in 1999, followed later that year by Guerrilla Warfare, which was their Universal debut, and which went onto have platinum status.

Lil’ Wayne Goes Solo: 1999 - 2005

Wayne launched his solo career in 1999, at age 17, with the release of Tha Block Is Hot.
Though he didn’t vear far away from his Hot Boys cohorts; from beginning to end, Juvenile, B.G., and Turk back him on just over half of the album's 17 songs. In addition, Brian "Baby" Williams and Mannie Fresh make several appearances as well, and Fresh produces the entire album. With help from his friends, the album reached #3 on the Billboard 200 in November of 1999.

His sophomore album, Lights Out was released in 2000. C ritics praised that Wayne showed substantial growth as a rapper and lyrist, supports by some of Mannie Fresh’s wildest production to date. Wayne is deep on heartfelt songs like "Everything" and "Grown Man," and he is street-smart on insightful songs like "Lil One" and "Get off the Corner." He's much more effective, though, when he lightens up his lyrics and has fun, as on "Shine," "Let's Go," and "Hit U Up," three album highlights. His stuttering beats on "Tha Blues" were classified as “breathtaking,” by critics and as are the Eastern-style ones on "Hit U Up," and the album-opener, "Get off the Corner," sounds absolutely massive and reached #88 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks. Lights Out reached #13 on the Billboard 200 in January of 2001.

Lil Wayne's third album 500 Degreez was released in 2002, and tries to trump the big Cash Money hit by ex-labelmate Juvenile (400 Degreez). With the smooth, laid-back productions of Mannie Fresh leading the way for Wayne's drawling delivery, 500 Degreez does was critically praised as doing just that. The whole album's powered by the infectious party hit "Way of Life," which reached #71 on the Billboard Hot 100. The entire album reached #6 on The Billboard 200 in August of 2002.

Coming into his Own: 2004 – 2005

In 2004, Wayne released Tha Carter; this marked a personal milestone for him, as he was quoted as saying that had finally perfected his trade. Tha Carter also earned him respect outside of just his home area in the south. Though most southern rappers are stereotyped as having little to no lyrical ability, Wayne’s nimble flows proves that there are always exceptions.

In 2005, Wayne became the president of the Cash Money label and began work on a new album.
On December 11, 2005, Wayne released Tha Carter, Vol. 2 which further solidified his spot as a contemporary rapper, selling more than 238,000 copies and debuting at #2 on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart; it has also been certified platinum. The lead single off the album, "Fireman," became a hit in the United States, peaking at #32 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The second single, "Grown Man," was solicited to urban radios in January of 2006 in hopes of spreading to Top 40 Mainstream and then to the Billboard Hot 100, but failed to do so and also failed to receive any attention due to lack of promotion and no video. The third single "Hustler Muzik" was accompanied by a music video and gained minor attention, reaching #87 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Tha Carter, Vol. 2 appeared at the end of year while Lil Wayne was busy in his native New Orleans raising money for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Recently, Wayne was recruited by the Boyz N Da Hood as their fourth member after Young Jeezy left the group to engage in his solo career. However, due to scheduling conflicts involving the promotion of Tha Carter, Vol. 2, Wayne was never be formally named an active member of Boyz N Da Hood; though, he maintains a very good relationship with the group and even records new tracks with them on occasion. Lil Wayne will also be featured on Roman Verone's up coming mix CD and LP due out soon.

Inspiration and Continuation: 2006 – Present

In 2006, Wayne released his critically acclaimed sequel to his Dedication mixtape with DJ Drama called Dedication 2. On it, he included a final track entitled "Georgia....Bush" that addresses the problems surrounding the government's response to Hurricane Katrina in his native New Orleans, Lousiana, which places a large amount of blame on President George W. Bush. Throughout the track, he claims that theories of the government sabotaging the levees of New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward were indeed true. The track was recorded on the beat to Ludacris' single "Georgia" which sampled the Ray Charles track "Georgia On My Mind." This song is followed by a freestyle called "Money, Money, Money" over 2Pac's “Ambitionz Az a Ridah.” The freestyle was originally done on BET's “Rap City” following the release of Tha Carter II.

Lil Wayne is set to release two collaboration LPs.

The mixtape I Can't Feel My Face with Juelz Santana was released over the summer in 2006; extreme demand and popularity followed, and there are now rumors of it becoming a major-label commercially released LP.

On October 31 2006, Wayne released an album with his mentor Baby: Like Father, Like Son.

Personal Life

Many confuse Brian “Baby” Williams as Wayne's birth father; however, this is false, as evidenced by Wayne's singles "Everything" (from Lights Out), and a song on Like Father, Like Son, where Wayne explains that his “Dad died when I was 16."

Lil Wayne has been linked to female rapper Trina since around the time of the 2005 NBA All-Star Game at the Pepsi Center in Denver. They later recorded a single, “Don't Trip,” which appeared on her album Glamorest Life, and appeared on the remix for Remy Ma's "Conceited (along with Papoose and Jae Millz). After these collaborations came about, rumors began regarding a possible relationship, and even an engagement, between the two. On a radio interview, Trina said that the relationship was more of a "brother-sister" relationship; and later, on “Victoria's RapBasement,” Wayne said he knew nothing of the rumors.

However, in an issue of Sister 2 Sister magazine, Trina later said that she made a huge understatement at that radio interview, and that "He's one of the sweetest people I've ever met...I have so much love for him!" However, she just laughed when further questions were asked and added, "We're both happy. That's all the world needs to know." In the March 2006 issue of VIBE magazine, Lil Wayne said that this relationship was better than his past ones because "She's (also) a rapper, so we understand each other." When asked about the ring, he smiled and said, "She just likes rings. I saw a nice one, so I got it for her."

A picture of Wayne and Brian “Baby” Williams kissing drew some media and fan attention. While it was explained as a father-son kiss, the photo is highly controversial, and Williams later claimed the kiss was a "black variation" of Mafia affection.

It was announced that Wayne and Trina recently ended their relationship; this was stated by Wayne, himself, on BET's 106 and Park.

Lil Wayne has recently purchased a sky box at the Louisiana Superdome with Birdman.

Legal Issues and Arrest

On August 14, 2006, Wayne was arrested on charges of possession of less than one ounce of marijuana and possession of a controlled substance. Police claim the rapper was in possession of several unlabeled bottles — one containing 60 pills of Alprazolam, a generic form of Xanax that is used to treat anxiety disorders and panic attacks; another containing 59 hydrocodone pills — along with "two small burnt joints of marijuana," the report read. A second man, Derrick Lawrence, 37, was also charged with possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana. He was released from Georgia's Fulton County Jail on $11,000 bond following his arrest.

Wayne is being sued by a group of Florida concert promoters, who claim the rapper still owes them $45,000 after he failed to show up for a performance in October 2006.

Charity Work

Though he’s come a long way from the rough streets of the Hollygrove section of New Orleans, he returned after the Hurricane to help his neighborhood, and do anything he could.

He also was a staunch non-supporter of President George W. Bush, and In 2006, Lil Wayne released his critically acclaimed sequel to his Dedication mixtape with DJ Drama called Dedication 2. On it, he included a final track entitled "Georgia....Bush" that addresses the problems surrounding the government's response to Hurricane Katrina in his native New Orleans, Lousiana, which places a large amount of blame on President George W. Bush. Throughout the track, he claims that theories of the government sabotaging the levees of New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward were indeed true.


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