“At just twenty-three, Canadian rapper Drake is already leagues ahead of those who’ve come before.”
Lil Wayne 2.0 seems like he was designed in a laboratory, so perfectly is he suited to be pop culture’s next superstar. He was born into music, writes and raps like his mentor, dresses up instead of down, and vaguely resembles a young Obama.
A word after a word after a word is money. For example: “I’m a Young Money millionaire, tougher than Nigerian hair. / My criteria compared to your career just isn’t fair.” That’s a bit of “A Milli,” one of six platinum- and multi-platinum-certified singles by Lil Wayne, the Louisiana rapper who coined the term “bling.” Last summer, Forbes magazine estimated his annual earnings at $18 million (US) — a recession-beating 38 percent rise over the year before. His 2008 album, Tha Carter III, has sold several million copies worldwide; its support tour, a nine-month bus ride bounded by shows in Miami, Montreal, Vancouver, and San Diego, grossed $42 million (US).
At least twice, Barack Obama has counselled children not to emulate Wayne, because it would be easier for them to slam-dunk an anvil than to walk his life path. Lil Wayne won three Grammy Awards last year, cementing his style — sex-and-drug ditties laced with raspy, digitally altered vocals — as one of the most important sounds in the global music industry.
But Lil Wayne, also known as Weezy, is temporarily leaving the rap game. By the time these sentences reach you, he’ll be a month or so into his year on Riker’s Island, the punishment for illegal gun possession. (During a 2007 search of his tour bus, nypd officers found a loaded semi-automatic in a Louis Vuitton bag.) He already looks the stereotypical part of an inmate: his beltline sags below his ass cheeks; heavy dreadlocks droop past his chest; his scores of tattoos include the words “Fear” and “God” on his eyelids. Nevertheless, it will be his first experience of jail.
Weezy’s brand will endure his sabbatical, in large part because he has groomed a protege to take up his mantle. Lil Wayne 2.0 seems like he was designed in a laboratory, so perfectly is he suited to be pop culture’s next superstar. He was born into music, writes and raps like his mentor, dresses up instead of down, and vaguely resembles a young Obama. He is half-black and half-Jewish, media polished, and Hollywood handsome — a vocal gymnast and jet-setter who’s never known hip hop’s “thug life”; the type of gentleman a groupie would bring home to her mother. He’s also Canadian.
Before he picked up and slammed that anvil, Toronto’s Aubrey Graham was a television heartthrob. From 2001 through last year, he played basketball hero Jimmy Brooks on CTV’s Degrassi: The Next Generation. In the series, a cornball hit with young viewers above and below the forty-ninth parallel, Jimmy was shot and paralyzed from the waist down. The character became a rapper, reflecting the actor’s life. The work paid well enough for Aubrey to lease (but not purchase) a Rolls-Royce Phantom, an ultra-luxury more suited to the celebrity he had not yet become.
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Article written by Matthew McKinnon on The Walrus.