Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr. (born September 27, 1982), better known by his stage name Lil Wayne, is an American Grammy Award-winning rapper. Formerly a member of the rap group the Hot Boys, he joined the Cash Money Records collective as a teenager. Get It How U Live!, released in 1997, was Lil Wayne's first album with Hot Boys, and Tha Block is Hot, his solo debut, came out in 1999.
After gaining fame with two other albums in the early 2000s, Lil Wayne reached higher popularity with 2004's Tha Carter and its two subsequent albums Tha Carter II (2005) and Tha Carter III (2008). He earned various accolades following Tha Carter III, including eight Grammy Awards nominations. He has had two number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 ("Lollipop" with Static Major and being featured on "Down" by Jay Sean). He will release a rock album titled Rebirth in 2009.
Lil Wayne was born Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr. and grew up in the Hollygrove neighborhood of New Orleans, Louisiana. Carter enrolled in the gifted program of Lafayette Elementary School and in the drama club of Eleanor McMain Secondary School. He wrote his first rap song at age eight. At age eleven, he met Bryan Williams, rapper and owner of Cash Money Records. Lil Wayne recorded freestyle raps on Williams' answering machine; Williams would eventually mentor the young Carter and include him in Cash Money-distributed songs. When he was 12, he played the part of the Tin Man in his middle school drama club's production of The Wiz. He claims that he accidentally shot himself with a .44 caliber gun at that age. He dropped out of school at age 14.
Main article: Hot Boys
In 1997, Lil Wayne joined the group Hot Boys along with rappers Juvenile, Turk, and B.G.; at age 15, Wayne was the youngest member at that time. Hot Boys' debut album Get It How U Live! was released the same year, followed in 1999 by the group's major-label debut Guerrilla Warfare, which reached #1 on the Billboard magazine Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and #5 on the Billboard 200. During their career, the Hot Boys had two charting singles, "We On Fire" from Get It How U Live! and "I Need a Hot Girl" from Guerrilla Warfare. Lil Wayne was also featured on Juvenile's single "Back That Azz Up", which reached #18 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #5 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks. Let 'Em Burn, a compilation album of unreleased tracks recorded during 1999 and 2000, came out in 2003, several years after the group disbanded. It reached #3 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and #14 on the Billboard 200.
Early solo career (1999-2003)
Lil Wayne's debut solo album Tha Block Is Hot at age 17 featured significant contributions from the Hot Boys and went double platinum, climbing to #3 on the Billboard album charts. The album earned him a 1999 Source magazine award nomination for "Best New Artist", and also became a Top Ten hit. The lead single was "Tha Block Is Hot". After the release of Tha Block is Hot, Lil Wayne was featured on the single, "Bling Bling", with B.G., Juvenile, Turk, and Big Tymers.
His 2000 follow-up album Lights Out failed to attain the level of success achieved by his debut but was certified gold by RIAA. Critics pointed to the lack of coherent narratives in his verses as evidence that he had yet to mature to the level of his fellow Hot Boys. The lead single was "Get Off The Corner" which was noticed for an improvement in lyrical content and style, it also received a music video. The second single which received less attention was "Shine" featuring The Hot Boys. Near the release of Lights Out, Lil Wayne was featured on the single, "1# Stunna" with Big Tymers and Juvenile, which rose to 24th place on the Hot Rap Tracks charts.
In 2001, Lil Wayne was shot in the chest in Florida after "some groupies" fired two shots through his tour bus window. He recalled the incident in 2008 interview: 'It 'didn???t go all the way in, ???cause the window slowed it down.'
Lil Wayne's third album 500 Degreez, released in 2002, followed the format of his previous two, with significant contributions from the Hot Boys and Mannie Fresh. While certified Gold like its predecessor, it too failed to match the success of his debut. The title was a reference to the recently estranged Hot Boys member Juvenile's recording, 400 Degreez. The lead single was "Way Of Life" which like the album failed to match the success of his previous singles. After the release of 500 Degreez, he was featured in the single "Neva Get Enuf" by 3LW.
Tha Carter and Tha Carter II (2004-05)
In the summer of 2004, Wayne's album Tha Carter came out, marking what critics considered advancement in his rapping style and lyrical themes. In addition, the album's cover art featured the debut of Wayne's now-signature dreadlocks. Tha Carter gained Wayne significant recognition, selling over 1 million copies in the United States, while the single "Go DJ" became a Top 5 Hit. After the release of Tha Carter, Lil Wayne was featured in Destiny's Child's single "Soldier" with T.I., which peaked at #3 on the U.S. Hot 100 and the U.S. R&B Charts. The song Get Something (featuring Mannie Fresh) was supposed to appear on the album but failed to make the cut, however the music video was released.
Tha Carter II, the follow-up to the original Tha Carter album, was released in December 2005, this time without production by longtime Cash Money Records producer Mannie Fresh, who had since left the label. Tha Carter II sold more than 238,000 copies in its first week of release, debuting at No. 2 on the Billboard Top 200 albums chart, and went on to sell 2,000,000 copies world wide. The lead single, "Fireman," became a hit in the US, peaking at 32 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Other singles included "Grown Man", "Hustler Muzik", and "Shooter" (featuring R&B singer Robin Thicke). Lil Wayne also appeared on a remix of Bobby Valentino's "Tell Me", which rose to #13 on the U.S. R&B Charts.
In 2005, Lil Wayne was named president of Cash Money, and in the same year he founded Young Money Entertainment as an imprint of Cash Money. However, as of late 2007, Lil Wayne reported that he has stepped down from the management of both labels and has handed management of Young Money over to Cortez Bryant.
Collaborations and mixtapes (2006-07)
In 2006, Lil Wayne collaborated with rapper Birdman for the album Like Father, Like Son, whose first single "Stuntin' Like My Daddy", reached #21 on the Billboard Hot 100. Instead of a follow-up solo album, Lil Wayne reached his audience through a plethora of mixtapes and guest appearances on a variety of pop and hip-hop singles. Of his many mixtapes, Dedication 2 and Da Drought 3 received the most media exposure and critical review. Dedication 2, released in 2006, paired Lil Wayne with DJ Drama and contained the acclaimed socially conscious track "Georgia Bush," in which Lil Wayne critiqued former US president George W. Bush's response to the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the city of New Orleans. Da Drought 3 was released the following year and was available for free legal download. It contained Lil Wayne rapping over a variety of beats from recent hits by other musicians. Numerous of features in prominent hip-hop magazines such as XXL and Vibe covered the mixtape. Christian Hoard of Rolling Stone magazine considered the mixtapes Da Drought 3 and The Drought Is Over 2 "among the best albums of 2007."
Despite no album release for two years, Lil Wayne appeared in numerous singles as a featured performer, including "Gimme That" by Chris Brown, "Make It Rain" by Fat Joe, "You" by Lloyd, and "We Takin Over" by DJ Khaled (also featuring Akon, T.I., Rick Ross, Fat Joe, and Birdman), "Duffle Bag Boy" by Playaz Circle, "Sweetest Girl (Dollar Bill)" by Wyclef Jean (also featuring Akon), and the remix to "I'm So Hood" by DJ Khaled (also featuring T-Pain, Young Jeezy, Ludacris, Busta Rhymes, Big Boi, Fat Joe, Birdman, and Rick Ross). All these singles charted within the top 20 spots on the Billboard Hot 100, Hot Rap Tracks, and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts. On Birdman's 2007 album 5 * Stunna, Lil Wayne appeared on the singles "100 Million" and "I Run This" among several other tracks. Wayne also appeared on tracks from albums Getback by Little Brother, American Gangster by Jay-Z, and Graduation by Kanye West and Insomniac by Enrique Iglesias. "Make it Rain", a Scott Storch production that peaked at number 13 on the Hot 100 and number two on the Hot Rap Tracks chart, was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for 2008.
Vibe magazine ranked a list of 77 of Lil Wayne's songs from 2007 and ranked his verse in DJ Khaled's "We Takin Over" as his best of 2007, with "Dough Is What I Got" (a freestyle over the beat of Jay-Z's "Show Me What You Got") from Da Drought 3 the second song. At the end of 2007, an MTV poll selected Lil Wayne as "Hottest MC in the Game", The New Yorker magazine ranked him "Rapper of the Year", and GQ magazine named him "Workaholic of the Year". In 2008 he was named "Best Rock Star Alive" by Blender magazine and "Best MC" by Rolling Stone.
Tha Carter III (2008)
Main article: Tha Carter III
Initially planned to be released in 2007, Tha Carter III's largest delay came after the majority of the tracks were leaked and distributed on mixtapes, such as "The Drought Is Over Pt. 2" and "The Drought Is Over Pt. 4". Lil Wayne initially decided to use the leaked tracks, plus four new tracks, to make a separate album, titled The Leak. The Leak was to be released December 18, 2007, with the actual album being delayed until March 18, 2008, The release of The Leak in this format never came to fruition, but an official EP titled The Leak and containing five tracks was released digitally on December 25, 2007.
Tha Carter III was released on June 10, 2008, selling more than a million copies in its first week of release, the first to do so since 50 Cent's The Massacre in 2005. The first single "Lollipop", featuring Static became the rapper's most commercially successful song at that point, topping the Billboard Hot 100, making it the first Top 10 single for Lil Wayne as a solo artist, as well as his first #1 on the chart. His third single from Carter III', "Got Money" featuring T-Pain, peaked at #13 on the Billboard 100. Along with his album singles, Lil Wayne appeared on R&B singles "Girls Around the World" by Lloyd, "Love In This Club, Part II" by Usher, "Official Girl" by Cassie, "I'm So Paid" by Akon, "Turnin' Me On" by Keri Hilson, and "Can't Believe It" by T-Pain; rap singles "My Life" by The Game, "Shawty Say" by David Banner, "Swagga Like Us" by T.I., "Cutty Buddy" by Mike Jones, and "Haterz" and the remix to "Certified" by Glasses Malone; and pop single "Let It Rock" by new Cash Money artist Kevin Rudolf. On July 14, 2008, the Recording Industry Association of America certified Tha Carter III two times platinum. In an October 2008 interview with MTV News, Lil Wayne announced plans to re-release this album with all new tracks, including a duet with Ludacris and remixes of "A Milli".
Lil Wayne performing at General Motors Place concert in Vancouver in January 2009.
The lineup for New Orleans' 2008 Voodoo Experience concert, held in October, featured Lil Wayne. Jonathan Cohen of Billboard magazine reported that the event would mark his biggest hometown headlining set of his career. Lil Wayne will be reuniting with Hot Boys alongside Juvenile, Turk, and B.G. They plan to release an album after B.G.'s solo album Too Hood to Be Hollywood is completed. Wayne also performed as the 2008 Virgin Mobile Music Fest with Kanye West, performing the remix of "Lollipop" with West and also lip-syncing to Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You". Lil Wayne also performed at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards with Kid Rock ("All Summer Long"), Leona Lewis ("DontGetIt (Misunderstood)") and T-Pain ("Got Money"). On the season premiere of Saturday Night Live, he performed "Lollipop" and "Got Money". He later performed at the homecoming rally at Vanderbilt University and the 2008 BET Hip Hop Awards with 12 nominations. He won the "MVP" title at the BET Hip Hop Awards and seven others. It was revealed that M.I.A. dropped out of performing on the tour due to her pregnancy, however Jay Z is expected to perform with Wayne on the song "Mr. Carter" at select shows.
On November 11, 2008, Wayne became the first hip-hop act to ever perform at the CMA awards. He played alongside Kid Rock for the song, "All Summer Long", in which Wayne did not rap but instead inaudibly strummed guitar strings alongside the guitarist in Kid Rock's band. Shortly after, Wayne was nominated for eight Grammys - the most for any artist nominated that year. Wayne was then named the first ever MTV Man of the Year at the end of 2008. He won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance for "A Milli", Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for his appearance in T.I.'s single "Swagga Like Us", and Best Rap Song for "Lollipop". Tha Carter III won the award for Best Rap Album.
DJ Drama stated that there would be a third installation of the Dedication mixtape series with Lil Wayne, who insisted that it will would be a full album under the title. However despite the fact Wayne wanted to release Dedication 3 as an album, it was released as a mixtape on November 14, 2008.
Wayne stated that he would release a debut rock album titled Rebirth. The album was originally scheduled for a April 7, 2009 release, however after numerous delays, the album is now to be released on December 15, 2009. "Prom Queen", the first buzz single, debuted on January 27 immediately after a live Internet broadcast on Ustream of his concert in San Diego. "Prom Queen" peaked at #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. "Hot Revolver", the second buzz single, debuted on iTunes on March 17 and peaked at #33 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. For the anticipation of Rebirth, Wayne was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone.
MTV listed Lil Wayne number two on their 2009 list of the Hottest MCs In The Game.
He has announced several possible upcoming projects, including a collaboration album I Can't Feel My Face with rapper Juelz Santana that has been in production for several years. On the website HipHopDX.com, he has discussed a possible R&B album titled Luv Sawngz, for which he will heavily rely on a vocoder. He has also talked with singer Lloyd about doing a collaboration album in the future. On June 19, 2008, Lil Wayne and T-Pain formed a duo called T-Wayne and planned to release an album.
In an interview on MTV's Mixtape Monday, Wayne asserted the possibility of an album titled Tha Carter IV. Following Tha Carter III's achievement of selling over 2 million copies, becoming 2008's best record, Wayne re-signed with Cash Money Records for a multi-album deal. Wayne said Tha Carter IV will be released in 2009 just before the holidays. Birdman had confirmed that Tha Carter IV will be packaged with Rebirth as a double disc album. However, Wayne denied this idea saying that "Tha Carter IV deserves Tha Carter IV". He went on to say that Young Money Fam may be packaged with Rebirth.He will be releasing a new mixtape titled No Ceilings.
It has also been confirmed that Wayne will be releasing a collaboration album with Young Money, with the first single confirmed as "Every Girl".
Wayne is featured on the song, "Revolver", with Madonna for her 2009 greatest hits album, Celebration. He will also feature on a Weezer song, "Can't Stop Partying", on their forthcoming album, Raditude.
Television and film career
Lil Wayne was a guest debater going up against Skip Bayless on the "1st & 10" segment on the January 6, 2009 edition of ESPN First Take. On February 10, 2009 he also appeared on ESPN's Around The Horn and beat out veterans Woody Paige, Jay Mariotti and fellow New Orleanian Michael Smith to win that show's episode. Wayne is set to produce and compose music for the film Hurricane Season. A documentary titled Tha Carter is also in production and was released at the Sundance Film Festival. Prior to the 2009 Grammy Awards, Wayne was featured in an interview with Katie Couric. On February 7, 2009, he presented the Top Ten List on CBS's Late Show with David Letterman. He then appeared on an April 24 episode of The View - talking about his GED and addictions. In September 2009, Wayne appeared in an episode of VH1's Behind the Music. and was a presenter of the 2009 MTV Movie Awards.
Lil Wayne has three children. His first, daughter Reginae, was born when he was 15, to his high school sweetheart Antonia "Toya" Carter (n?Še Johnson). Wayne and Johnson married on Valentine's Day of 2004 and divorced in 2006. His second child, Dwayne III, was born on October 22, 2008 at Christ Hospital in Cincinnati. His third child, Lennox Samuel Ari, was born to actress Lauren London on September 9, 2009. He is expecting a fourth child with singer Nivea.
After earning his GED, Wayne enrolled at the University of Houston in January 2005 with plans to major in political science. To earn his degree, he had been taking online courses. An article in Urb magazine in March 2007 asserted that Wayne had been earning high grades at Houston, and by the end of the year Wayne discontinued his education there.
In a CBS interview with Katie Couric, Wayne described why he goes by the name of "Wayne" instead of his given name, Dwayne. Carter explained, "I dropped the D because I'm a junior and my father is living and he's not in my life and he's never been in my life. So I don't want to be Dwayne, I'd rather be Wayne." Couric asked Wayne if his father knew of this and Wayne replied with a smile, "He knows now."
Sports and musical interests
In an interview with Blender magazine, Lil Wayne revealed one of his favorite bands from childhood to be rock group Nirvana, and cites them as a major influence in his music.
On September 24, 2008, Lil Wayne published his first blog for ESPN in their issue, ESPN The Magazine. Wayne revealed he was a fan of tennis, the Green Bay Packers, the Boston Bruins, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Red Sox. Wayne has continued writing for ESPN, notably reporting at the ESPN Super Bowl party.
Lil Wayne made his debut on ESPN's daily sports round table show "Around The Horn" on Feb. 10, 2009.
Along with Mack Maine, Wayne was in attendance of Game 3 of the opening round NBA playoff series between the Denver Nuggets and the home team New Orleans Hornets on April 25, 2009.
Drug use and arrests
Wayne told CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric on her All Access Grammy Special in 2009 that he enjoys smoking marijuana recreationally. He also stated that he is "not addicted" to drinking purple drank, which refers to codeine cough syrup, any longer. He has been arrested for use or possession of marijuana and other drugs.
In the latter half of 2007, Lil Wayne was arrested twice. On July 22, 2007, Lil Wayne was arrested in New York City following a performance at the Beacon Theatre; the New York City Police Department discovered Lil Wayne and another man smoking marijuana near a tour bus. After taking Lil Wayne into custody, police discovered a pistol on his person, and he was charged with criminal possession of a weapon and marijuana. Another arrest was on October 5, 2007, following a performance at Qwest Arena in Boise, Idaho, on felony fugitive charges after Georgia authorities accused the rapper of possessing a controlled substance. The incident was later described as a "mix-up" and the fugitive charges were dropped.
On January 23, 2008, Lil Wayne was arrested alongside two others. His tour bus was stopped by Border Patrol agents near Yuma, Arizona. A K-9 Unit recovered 105 grams of marijuana (3.7 ounces), almost 29 grams of cocaine (1.02 ounces), 41 grams of MDMA (1.4 ounces) and $22,000 in cash. Lil Wayne was charged with four felonies: possession of narcotic drug for sale, possession of dangerous drugs, misconduct involving weapons and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was granted permission to travel outside of the state and remain out of custody on the $10,185 bond he posted. On May 6, 2008, Wayne returned to court in Arizona to plead not guilty to the charges.
In February 2009, production company RMF Productions filed a $1.3 million lawsuit against Wayne, following a $100,000 advance payment for three shows, all of which were cancelled by the artist.
On October 22, 2009, Wayne pled guilty to attempted criminal possession of a weapon. He is due for sentencing in February 2010 and is expected to receive a one-year jail sentence.