Lil Wayne


Lil Wayne
▪ 2009
Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr.; “Weezy” 
born Sept. 27, 1982, New Orleans, La.

 Lil Wayne, regarded by many as the best rap artist of his generation, had a banner year in 2008, culminating with his eight Grammy Awards nominations, including album of the year and best rap album, for his best-selling Tha Carter III. In fact, he could be seen on most music awards shows in 2008, from the BET Hip-Hop Awards in October, on which he won seven awards—among them lyricist of the year, MVP of the year, and Alltel Wireless People's Champ—to the Country Music Association's CMA Awards in November, where he appeared onstage with genre-crossing musician Kid Rock. In September he performed with Kid Rock at the MTV Video Music Awards and picked up the prize for best hip-hop video, and in November he won the artist's choice award at the MTV Europe Music Awards.

      Lil Wayne grew up in New Orleans's impoverished 17th ward. There he came to the attention of Cash Money Records head Brian (“Birdman”) Williams, and he soon became a member, with Juvenile, B.G., and Young Turk, of the label's all-star group Hot Boys and won notice on its albums Get It How U Live! (1997) and Guerrilla Warfare (1999). Lil Wayne's first solo LP, Tha Block Is Hot, arrived later in 1999 and went double platinum, with its title track reaching the top 10, but two subsequent releases were less successful.

      Lil Wayne found a new avenue to success in 2003 with his first underground mixtape, Da Drought. His 2004 album Tha Carter reached number five on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and number two on the Hot R&B/Hip Hop chart and spawned a hit single, “Go DJ.” During this time Lil Wayne came into his own as an artist, with lyrics that were both profound and clever and that spoke to a wide range of people. His contribution in 2004 to the single “Soldier” (by Destiny's Child) was the first of a long line of guest performances with other artists. Two popular mixtapes preceded the critically praised album Tha Carter, Vol. 2 (2005), which sold more than 1.8 million records. His reputation continued to grow throughout 2006 and 2007, with numerous mixtapes, CDs, and collaborations. On his music videos, Lil Wayne appeared to play guitar, but it seemed the instrument was more of a prop. In 2008 more than a million copies of Tha Carter III, which contained the ubiquitous singles “A Milli” and “Lollipop,” were sold in its initial week, and it went on to sell more than 2.8 million units, becoming the best-selling album of the year.

Patricia Bauer

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Universalium. 2010.

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