Lil Wayne is a legend in the rap world. Famous for his uncensored lyrics and unique looks, he’s celebrated across the industry for his antics and influential tracks.
In his early days, Wayne tried everything he could to get Eminem to notice his talent. He wanted to be a star, releasing his first album in 1999. However, in the end, he didn’t need his help. The young rapper managed to make it mostly by himself. Over time, he built a loyal following that cemented his position as a star.
Lil Wayne was born September 27, 1982, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Like many rappers, Lil Wayne faced many challenges in his early life. His mother was only 19 when he was born, and his father abandoned the family at a young age. He was originally called “Dwayne,” but he changed it to Wayne, symbolically rejecting his dad.
Despite this difficult start in life, though, Lil Wayne proved to be academically talented. Teachers enrolled him in various programs to enhance his educational attainment, with some calling him “gifted.”
While Lil Wayne started rapping at age 8, it wasn’t until the late nineties that he began producing professionally. He joined a group called Hot Boys and used that as a springboard to share ideas with his fellow bandmates. This experience eventually led him to create his 1999 debut single Guerrilla Warfare. Despite being the first piece of music he produced, it managed to get to number five on the Billboard 200, immediately transforming him into a star.
Soon after, Lil Wayne released The Block is Hot. It did even better on the Billboard 200, getting to number three. Unfortunately, subsequent albums up until 2004 didn’t do as well. The public saw them as lackluster, and Lil Wayne struggled to progress his style.
All was not lost, though. In 2004, the rapper released The Carter. Critics thought the melodies, insights, and lyrical genius were a step above what had come before, and praised his work. It was really this album more than any other that proved Lil Wayne was a serious artist, capable of producing a string of hits.
More mixtapes, collaborations, and featured performances followed. Lil Wayne proved a master at appealing to other artists and convincing them to work with him. While he maintained his relationship with the Hot Boys, he also worked with Chris Brown, Fat Joe, and DJ Khaled.
Lil Wayne famously told Hot 97 in an interview that he would retire at 35 in 2011 to spend more time with his family. However, he continued his career in the studio for many years after that.
After 2020, Lil Wayne focused on Funeral after the successful release of Carter V. The album went straight to number one on the U.S. Billboard chart, giving the rapper almost legendary status. Rave positive reviews flooded in from critics on all sides, even those who had been skeptical of his work in the past.