Life & Art Editor
By the time he was sweet 16, Lil’ Wayne was off the street selling crystals in the 17th Ward community of Hollygrove, New Orleans, and on top of the indie charts selling 400,000 indie copies with the Hot Boys.
‘Member them? There was Juvenile (“Back Dat Azz Up”), B.G. (“Bling Bling” – coined it), Turk (whatev) and Lil’ Wayne – that cocky cornrowed rookie. Juvenile blew up soon after and started asking for loot that Cash Money execs Baby and Ronald “Godfather” Williams weren’t about to shove forth. B.G. got hooked back on the H, got all skinny and started seeing black choppers. And then Turk – well, who the hell knows and cares? Though at one point, every white high schooler in America was claiming dude like Raphael on the Ninja Turtles – what cool kids we were.
…And Lil’ Wayne, well, he stood firmly and smartly by the CMR fam, keeping watch, loot and limelight, becoming their blue chip all-star, and toppling SoundScan with last year’s 500 Degreez.
But this isn’t some kiss ass brief. Who cares how many Hummers, asterisk-inducing-photo necklaces and master tapes this clique has wrapped around their Southern world and probably locked up in Swiss safes? Fuck that. I’m tired of seeing Baby and Mannie on “Cribs” while I’m at home, swigging a Corona, eating Ramen noodles and (Winn-Dixie brand) beefaroni. I mean, who should really have tears tatted beside their eye?
Well, in all honesty, Wayne should. After a life of crime, his pops died when he was much lil’-er – before that Wayne shot himself in the chest, after that he spent requisite years on the block slinging bottles and baggies. After all that and plenty more – no press release, just fact – Dwayne Carter has gone on to stash a few mil’, hone a flow that is nasal like banana fish flowing through a wave, and now oversees a mucho-stable label to boot. Leaping such harsh odds diminishes your boy’s “filler” criticism – so save that talk for his new album – then we’ll see who is fugazi, wankstas.
Lil’ Wheezy is finally of matter-age now, pushin’ ‘Rarris, not even scribblin’ down his rhymes anymore on some Jigga shit – from the dome.
Say what you will, Wayne is a down dude, a cursive ‘C’ between his eyes for his moms, the struggle with going ghetto-to-rich while dealing with the white-as-hell-top-bracket life continues. And that’s what rap is, at least should, be all about. Somebody wrap a flag around this dude. Christ.
L&A: So, you’re about to hit the studio in North Beach, that’s what’s up?
Wheezy: They [Mannie Fresh, Baby and CMR posse] already at the studio. I don’t really know what they doing over there. Shit, they got Juveie in the studio.
L&A: What, he’s back with y’all? When did that shit happen?
Wheezy: Yeah, yeah, yeah, over this year or something, shit, got back. I don’t really know.
L&A: So Juveie’s back and Turk right?
Wheezy: Nah, not no Turk.
L&A: What? He’s up on the [Cash Money Entertainment] Web site. [laughing]
Wheezy: Naaaah. [smirks shadily]
L&A: He’s done huh? And B.G.? Done?
Wheezy: [silence, a smirk] [the “Nah” motion]
L&A: Shit. Let’s talk about Young Money, ’cause that shit’s gonna blow up, right? Young Money Entertainment.
Wheezy: Yeah. That shit there, new label, know what I’m sayin’? Something to make a lil’. I guess I did this rap shit enough, I see how the rap money come, now it’s time for me to make some big money, bigger money, bigger than what I did. Shit’s through Cash Money, yeah, so we can’t go wrong. I’m the CEO. Our first group, Squared Up [pronounced Squr’d Up], that’s my first group off my label. I’m in that group also; that’s me, and six more people. It’s a way to explode, exploit it and then put us all out.
L&A: Like Hot Boys?
L&A: You’re 20 right?
L&A: Damn, congratulations on that. What’d you do for your birthday?
Wheezy: Shit, I had a party. I had a prom party. It was like a prom. I ain’t never been to no prom, so I figure I get my shit, nigga, and get a prom. It was in New Orleans.
L&A: Who won king and queen? [laughing]
Wheezy: Shit, I was the king. [laughing]
L&A: Who was the queen? [laughing]
Wheezy: Every bitch in there.
L&A: How’s it been with the Miami girls so far?
Wheezy: Strap up! Keep moov-in! Gang of times, Miami, it’s the same old shit, but right now it’s kinda poppin’ tho. Bitches everywhere.
L&A: What’s the best place you’ve traveled to so far?
Wheezy: I come to Florida a whole lot, man, really. But they show me a whole lot of love in Ohio, Cincinnati and Columbus, a whole lotta love. I can’t front.
L&A: Ohio? How you going to say that? [laughs]
Wheezy: That’s your thing right? [laughs] But y’all cool right now, so they can’t do shit. I fuck with Miami though, dog. I really wish y’all’s homie, Frank Gore, hadn’t a got fucked up. Y’all got that boy, he lookin’ nice, Jarrett Payton.
L&A: Our quarterback is kinda spaz though huh? It’s like the dude is thinking “RICH GIRLS” as he’s throwing interceptions.
Wheezy: Who Berlin? That nigga from my city. Yeah, he played back home for Tulane, word. [laughs]
L&A: You ever think about dropping the Lil’ on the Wayne?
Wheezy: Naah. Nah, that’s me, shit. I mean shit, unless I grow a hundred feet tomorrow, I’m going to be a small dude. Lil’ Wayne – I’m me. That’s just me. I came into the game with my name, rap or no rap, that’s what people call me. My daddy named Big – my daddy named Wayne – so I was a Lil’ Wayne, Lil’ Wayne forever.
L&A: Do you think Southern hip hop’s blowing up ’cause it’s more real? Is there a deficiency right now in New York hip hop?
Wheezy: That’s how we know how to do, know what I’m sayin? I think up North, got a lot of personalities up there man, know what I’m sayin? So they got a lotta more things, a lotta more access up there, so they get the chance to react and act like something else and put on a front. They get that chance. In the South, you don’t get the chance to do that. In the South, you put on a front, you get murdered. So you gotta be real, so that’s why our music’s so real. I mean they got some real motherfuckers up there, sure, they cool. But there’s some shit that they do that we just don’t understand and vice versa.
L&A: So, they show love up North when you visit?
Wheezy: I don’t even look for no love from no New Yorker.
[Publicist cuts in. She’s from Queens]
Publicist: Wayne, you know we show you love.
Wheezy: [laughs] Yeah, you show me love, but I don’t know about nobody else up there.
Lil’ Wayne has a new album dropping in early December called The Carter – as in New Jack City. Mannie Fresh is on the boards, of course, and Wayne says Juveie might appear or might not. Quote him, “I feel like my new album’s that crack, get high.” For more info, visit CashMoney-Records.com.
Hunter Stephenson, born in Pinebluff, North Carolina, can be reached at Huntlaed@hotmail.com.