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Default Blender: Lil' Wayne Interview

if nothing else, read the last part of this shit that i bolded........

He’s hip-hop’s resident word-twisting, pill-popping, gunslinging genius. But is he too crazy for his own good?

Jonah Weiner

Ladies and gentlemen, please rise for the Greatest Rapper on Earth. He is two hours late, which is on the early side by his clock. He’s five-feet-six, which is perhaps shorter than you were expecting, but it’s a magisterial, Yoda kind of short. He carries a Styrofoam cup thick with a woozy-making purple potion. He drifts around the room like a good smell, receiving the faithful (in this case, his entourage) with a lazy handshake. He carries himself like some well-fed, opium-eating pasha: regal, radiating satisfaction, really stoned. And when he greets Blender, it isn’t a hello so much as a benediction: We say, “Hey, man,” and he responds, as though setting mortal eyes upon him is enough to defy credulity, “Believe.”

We knew this about him: Lil Wayne is seriously into Lil Wayne. “Don’t I look fresh?” he asks the gathered at Atlanta’s Hot Beats Recording Studios. We nod. His look is skater-fabulous: fitted black sweatshirt, diamonds everywhere, multicolored Nike Uptowns. His dreadlocks are gathered nonchalantly into a rubber band, and a red bandana plumes from his back-right jeans pocket: a gangbanger’s flag doubling as a dandy’s flourish. “Look at me,” he says. “You could bury me looking like this.”

It’s 9 p.m. and Wayne is checking in for a night of work. His cup brims with Hawaiian Punch and promethazine codeine cough syrup; he drinks the stuff constantly—for pleasure, for the chronic head-and-chest colds that have given his voice its signature Speak & Spell croak and because he can’t stop. “If I go off it,” he explains, “I go into withdrawal.”

Since early 2005—even before Hurricane Katrina sneezed Wayne’s hometown of New Orleans into near oblivion—the rapper, 25, has split his time between Miami, Atlanta and his tour bus. He’s here this December evening to work on songs for his sixth studio album, Tha Carter III, which should be hip-hop’s biggest release of 2008, anticipated by gangsta-rap obsessives, blog dorks, the music industry and his peers alike (Kanye West, Jay-Z and T.I. are all on-the-record Weezy appreciators).

He instructs his engineer, Darius “Deezle” Harrison, to fire up a new song; as soon as he hears his own music, Wayne grows wild, his slow-mo confidence shoved abruptly aside by a raging, theatrical egotism. The track is called “Dinnertime,” in which Wayne compares other rappers to food and then eats them, chewing noises included. Faced with his prodigious skills, he stutter-steps around the room, headbanging with increasing violence. “I’m too sick,” he says, revving himself up. “Too sick! I don’t even wanna listen to my own shit, ’cause it makes me want to kill somebody!” The moment the song ends, Wayne bellows at no one in particular, “Fuck yo’ favorite rapper!” He tells Deezle to dial up another track and reiterates his point, stomping his Nikes to emphasize each syllable: “FUCK! YO’! FAV! OR! ITE! RAP! PER!”

Lil Wayne’s self-regard is so high, his urge to prove his best-ness so total, that trying to communicate this, he can exceed propriety and, often, logic itself. That’s when he says things like, “I’m better than Jay-Z” or “I will annihilate your favorite rapper—even if it’s me” or “I’m a Martian, and if you understand me, then you’re Jesus Christ.”

Tonight he announces, “Fuck it, I’m not even a rapper. I’m past that.” Dramatic pause. “I’m an R&B singer now.” Then he plays us “Staring at the World,” in which he serenades a crush through a vocoder: E.T. meets T-Pain. “Call me T-Wayne,” he says. “I have an album coming out called Luv Sawngz. It’s me being more creative, more talented, more than hip-hop.

If anyone can back up this sort of bravado right now, it’s Lil Wayne. For the past two years—a span in which Wayne has produced two official albums, a half-dozen mix tapes and 60-plus guest verses—he’s been upending everything we know about gangsta rap. In his songs, he’ll threaten bloody murder one moment, shout out Harry and the Hendersons the next. He’s as comfortable rapping alongside Jay-Z as he is Enrique Iglesias. Gangsta orthodoxy says you can’t turn a ho into a housewife, so Wayne releases “Prostitute,” about settling down with a card-carrying skank; gangsta orthodoxy says don’t get high on your own supply, so he releases “I Feel Like Dying,” an eerie transmission from the outer reaches of one wigged-out codeine binge. And when a photo surfaced last year of Wayne kissing his mentor, the rapper Bryan “Baby” Williams, there were no disavowals and denials. Instead, Wayne bragged about it. “Every nigga talking shit about me?” he declares. “All of they bitches would love to kiss me right now.”

Forget partying like a rock star: Wayne lives, breathes, eats pills and sleeps around like one. He plays electric guitar onstage and wears bling festooned with skulls; he’s blissfully allergic to be-nice/act-nice media training; he’s been arrested on narcotics charges so often it’s a wonder Kate Moss hasn’t come crawling; he’s pushed drug rap to a hallucinatory, existential extreme Jim Morrison would envy; and he oozes a dangerous, polyamorous, borderline-polymorphous sexuality.

“I don’t disguise anything about myself,” he says. “If there’s rules in hip-hop, take me out of that motherfucker.”

He was born Dwayne Carter in New Orleans’s Hollygrove neighborhood. His bedroom was spare: no posters on the wall, no action figures (“I wasn’t into that toy shit”), just a calendar, a Nintendo, a bunk bed. No siblings, though: He just decided he wanted a bunk bed, and his mother, Cita, a chef who’d become pregnant with Wayne at 19, indulged him. “I did perfect at school, so at home I was king,” Wayne explains. We’re on a couch at Hot Beats, and a very cute girl named China (girlfriend? Atlanta girlfriend? She’s certainly not Toya Johnson, with whom Wayne had a daughter at 14, nor the rapper Trina, to whom he’s been linked, nor the actress Lauren London, to whom he was briefly engaged) sits quietly beside him, tracing spirals on his back as he talks.

Wayne’s childhood is hard to figure. On one hand, he was a bookish overachiever, enrolled in the gifted program at Lafayette Elementary. In middle school, he joined the drama club—you can YouTube him playing the Tin Man in The Wiz. He’d gotten his taste for performance at age 8, rapping on his front porch. “I had a crew called K.W.A.—Kids With Attitude,” he recalls. “Neighborhood girls would be the audience, and I always wound up getting booty”—bump-and-grind dancing, that is—“in the back yard after. That was encouraging.”

On the other hand, he was, in his words, “a young G.” Wayne hardly knew his biological father, and by the time he turned 11, Cita had taken up with a drug dealer nicknamed Rabbit. “That was when I found out about all the things I shouldn’t have,” Wayne says. He started carrying a .32 Dillinger, loaded with bullets he’d purchased at 25 cents apiece from a neighbor. He’d bring his pistol to school and stow it in his “gifted desk.” Cortez Bryant, Wayne’s friend since junior high and now his manager, recalls that “at school, he could be as brainy as he wanted to be, but when that bell rang, he was back out in the jungle.”

A couple of years later, Wayne’s mother bought him his first Glock. “My mama’s a gangsta,” he says. “She told me every day, ‘Nigga play with you, you kill him.’ I believed her, and I do everything she say.” He stands up, agitated, and points at four teardrops tattooed on his face—these marks traditionally signify lives their bearer has snuffed out. “You see these four,” he says. “Lord, forgive me. But guess what, you play with me, I’ll knock your head open and piss on your motherfucking eyes.”

Talk about a paradox. The Tin Man? Toting a Glock? But when Wayne signed with local label Cash Money as a tween, he realized that rapping offered a perfect way to reconcile his middle-school-musical side with his eyeball-pissing mean streak. He dropped out of school at 14, and a year later Wayne was touring the globe.

There is one shooting victim Wayne will discuss: himself. He was 12, in his bedroom, wielding a hamburger and a .44, staging his own little Taxi Driver “You talking to me?” scene. “I was watching a Biggie video in the mirror, so I could see myself with the gun. Like, ‘Yeah, nigga! What, nigga?’ Stupid.” The trigger slipped, and a bullet missed Wayne’s heart by two inches.

In these sorts of tales, he comes off like rap’s Chuck Norris—when Lil Wayne falls in water, he doesn’t get wet; water gets Lil Wayne. How bad were you hurt? “I was a young G,” he says, brushing his shoulder for effect. “It was all good.” Ditto the other time he survived a bullet: On his tour bus after a show in Florida in 2001, his friend refused to let some groupies aboard. The girls got pissed and fired two shots through the window. One struck Wayne in the chest. “It didn’t go all the way in, ’cause the window slowed it down,” he explains. “We pulled that motherfucker out, dropped it on the sofa, full of blood.” Chuck Norris can’t resist a punch line. “I was like, ‘Damn! Them bitches wanted to fuck bad!’”

Hip-hop is home to many unsolved mysteries. Who killed Biggie? Who invented the remix? Who bought Kevin Federline’s album? And: How did Lil Wayne get so damn good? How did he go from competent, pint-size novelty to rap’s reigning simile-twister, brag-crafter and joke-lander—not to mention, on the smoldering “Georgia … Bush,” its most eloquent post-Katrina spokesman? “I don’t know, man,” his friend T.I. says. “All I can say is, he’s been doing his push-ups.”

Part of it is his voice—how it grew from adolescent wheedle to something brittle but sonorous, warm but alien. Part of it is age—not all child stars need go out in a blaze of rehab and crotch shots come adulthood. And part of it is mix tapes. Typically, these unofficial releases are repositories for ideas MCs deem too “street” or out-there for label release. Since 2002’s 10,000 Bars, Wayne has released mix tapes compulsively, filling them with left-field boasts and surrealist doodles; now, if he wants to compare competitors to tuna casserole, he just does it. “Wayne always had strange ideas,” Bryant explains. “But mix tapes gave him an outlet.”

That unhinged genius has only increased the pressure on him to deliver a great, bottom-line-affecting, official CD. The question, though, is whether or not Wayne’s wildness is its own liability. Tha Carter III has already been bumped several times, and you can almost hear Wayne’s label execs wondering whether he’s spread himself too thin, or whether rap’s finest free-associator can deliver a cohesive, capital-A album. But do you think he cares? “Album, mix tape—” he scoffs “—when I’m behind that mic, I don’t give a fuck. I have too much fun in the booth.”

Around midnight, Wayne has some fun in the booth. He decides to record the final verse for a song called “Dr. Carter.” As a dusty funk groove loops, Wayne paces, checking his two-way. He hasn’t written out a rhyme in five years, but he’s always punching notes into his phone. After several minutes, he steps to the mic: “Swagger tighter than a yeast infection,” he begins. “Fly, go hard like geese erection.” The room cracks up. “Play that back,” Wayne says. He consults his two-way. Listens to the couplet. Returns to the mic. Goes through 16 bars like this, adding lines incrementally, tweaking his cadence, perfecting his phrasing, thinking up rhymes as he goes. The final product sounds exhilaratingly ad hoc and disjointed, like a rapped exquisite corpse.

Finally, he emerges, Styrofoam cup and glowing blunt in hand. It’s 1 a.m. and his eyelids are so low he looks like he’s sleepwalking. He listens to the playback and smiles.

“Hear that?” he says. “Fuck yo’ favorite rapper.”

Honorary HHU SuperMod
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