While his one-time Hot Boy brothers are artfully planning comebacks, Wayne is reigning from a higher plain. Moreover, Lil' Wayne is on top of the Hip-Hop game right now. Hes still on Cash Money, still riding with Baby, and still not afraid to speak his mind outright.
With his critically acclaimed fifth album - Tha Carter II - debuting at number two in the Billboard charts, Weezy has rose from a regional hero to a nationwide superstar. But how did this epic transformation take place? AllHipHop.com decided to find out, as Birdman Jr. discusses his newfound popularity, as well as the conflict brewing with his former running mates Juvenile and B.G. While the trio has differences personally and professionally, they also share different views on Hurricane Katrina. Three of New Orleans greatest back-to-back read for yourself.
AllHipHop.com: Tha Carter II has been getting critical acclaim from everywhere, as people are calling it one of the best albums of the year, so how does it feel to get this amount of love from the album?
Lil' Wayne: Well, of course it feels great. My hard work paid off dog, because I worked real hard - believe that.
AllHipHop.com: Is this what you envisioned while making the album? Did you know this album was going to be huge for you?
Lil' Wayne: Oh no. You envision success, but not the success this album is getting now. I don't try to be too conceited or always looking into the future like that. I try to keep it mellow, and I envisioned it being successful, because I know I worked hard enough for it to be. But what it's doing right now is even surprising me.
AllHipHop.com: What is the biggest difference between the first Carter and this one?
Lil' Wayne: The biggest difference is growth and maturity. In between those times, in that time frame between Tha Carter I and Tha Carter II, I was doing a lot of growing and maturing. I was placed in a lot of different situations and given higher positions. A lot of situations were deeper, the drama got thicker, trouble is more thicker - so a lot of things are different. So now I go into the studio to do Tha Carter II with all these things on my mind and that's what came out.
AllHipHop.com: Why did you take off all the Mannie Fresh tracks off the album after he left Cash Money?
Lil' Wayne: Because I don't know if he knew that I was using some of the beats, because some of them he had sold to other rappers. So I wasn't sure which ones were sold, so I couldn't put none of them on the album, just to be safe.
AllHipHop.com: Do you think people doubted whether you or Cash Money could receive beats of the same quality without Mannie?
Lil' Wayne: I think they probably did until they looked at the reality of things, and the reality of things is that Mannie's music is great, but a lot of other people's is greater.
AllHipHop.com: The past two years I have seen New York City sort of embrace you, so what do you think you have done to win over the New York crowd?
Lil' Wayne: I ain't even know I won them over, but if I did, thanks. I do me, that is what I've done.
AllHipHop.com: Would you say your flow and delivery is inspired by Jay-Z?
Lil' Wayne: Of course, hell yeah! All day - yes.
AllHipHop.com: With the Def Jam situation, were you ever serious about leaving Cash Money, or was it just a business move to use that as leverage to negotiate a higher price with Universal?
Lil' Wayne: [Laughter] Looked like it worked out that way, huh? [Laughter] Nah, I actually was going to holla at Jay, but I had a better situation over here, so I stayed.
AllHipHop.com: A lot of people feel that "Shooters" is the best song on the album, so why go with "Grown Man" over "Shooters" for the second single?
Lil' Wayne: Because, first of all, I am Lil' Wayne and you know me as Lil' Wayne. Whatever you come up with in your head when someone says Lil' Wayne, that's what comes up. Now, "Shooters," that's a good look, that's a real good look and I'm not saying we not going to do that. But its so far away...it's a great sound. But to hear something and to see something is totally different. So to see that song and to see me there - I can't shoot that in the hood, it has to be epic. And right now, I don't need nothing epic. "Grown Man" would be something different for Lil' Wayne but just enough difference - you feel me?
AllHipHop.com: With "Shooters," did you hear the original version by Thicke and just wanted to redo it?
Lil' Wayne: Yeah, hell yeah. I heard it years ago, on his album.
AllHipHop.com: Do you think that would surprise people, like, "Weezy listens to Thicke?"
Lil' Wayne: F**k people.
AllHipHop.com: On "Shooters" you talk about the bias of radio stations and in the booklet for your album you state, "F**k Hot 97." Can you go into your feelings on the bias you have encountered from radio stations, as well as the Hot 97 situation?
Lil' Wayne: I meant Hot 97 in New York. But radio in New York is crazy, first of all. Its crazy out there and they really look at us - and when I say us, I mean Southern rappers - but they look at us like we don't exist. And that is the case with other radio stations as well, so its a struggle. But you got people like me who break down the door waving the fo four, all I heard is Weezy don't kill me no more.
AllHipHop.com: So what happened with Hot 97, is there a specific situation or confrontation that brought this about?
Lil' Wayne: I just had an altercation up there - so f**k them.
AllHipHop.com: Yeah, because I don't think I have heard "Fireman" one time on Hot 97.
Lil' Wayne: Yeah and you probably won't ever hear it, because they know I feel this way.
AllHipHop.com: Do you think artists like yourself and Chamillionaire are proving the South can bring it on a lyrical level like the greats in the game right now?
Lil' Wayne: Yeah, we have proven ourselves most of all, but we just happen to come from the South. That's what we are really doing, we are proving ourselves. I don't know what he is doing or if he is standing up for the South and saying "I'm gonna lyrically hold it down for the South." But me, I say I'm gonna lyrically hold it down and I have done that.
AllHipHop.com: Many feel that Andre from Outkast was the first Southern MC to really show the world that the South can provide complex lyrics, do you agree with that?
Lil' Wayne: No, not Andre from Outkast, try Scarface from Geto Boys or Bun B from UGK.
AllHipHop.com: Do you think Andre had a big impact?
Lil' Wayne: [Huffs, then long pause] Yes.
AllHipHop.com: Recently, we interviewed Juvenile and he didn't have the nicest things to say about you. He said that you aren't really in the streets like you rap about and that you didn't earn that tattoo tear like everybody else normally does. Do you want to respond to that?
Lil' Wayne: Oh yeah - tell him to come say that in my face next time he sees me and then your gonna see me with another tattoo tear - boy! Tell him that straight up, don't even put that in my article, just call him or his manager, or whoever you had to call to get that interview poppin' off. Call him back and let him know, "I told Wayne what you said and he said, when you see him, tell him that and you are gonna be the next tear drop on his face." P*ssy!
AllHipHop.com: I wasn't the one who interviewed him, I was just told he said that.
Lil' Wayne: F**k Juvenile! F**k B.G.! F**k Mannie Fresh! What up Turk, that's my n***a.
AllHipHop.com: You want me to print that?
Lil' Wayne: F**k them n***as, son. Straight up! I say f**k them n***as.
AllHipHop.com: As you know, B.G. has the diss track, so people are wondering where all this is coming from
Lil' Wayne: From the heart, f**k B.G.. Don't even tell me what B.G. or Juve said, I have the number two album in the country and them n***as can't even sell out a club. Them n***as are hurting man. Them n***as girlfriends are calling me everyday talking about they wanna suck my d*ck f**k them n***as! I wish I never met them.
AllHipHop.com: Switching gears to Hurricane Katrina, what do you think about 50 Cent's comments about Hurricane Katrina
Lil' Wayne: That's too serious man, don't bring me into that. Nothing with that dude right there - nothing. Go 50 go - I ain't into that. I heard what he said, I didn't hear it myself, so I got nothing to say about that. Shout out to my people trying to bounce back from Hurricane Katrina though.
AllHipHop.com: On the album, did you ever contemplate doing a whole track dedicated to the Hurricane Katrina tragedy?
Lil' Wayne: No, because I'm from New Orleans, brother. Our main focus is to move ahead and move on. You guys are not from New Orleans and keep throwing it in our face, like, "Well, how do you feel about Hurricane Katrina." I f**king feel f**ked up. I have no f**king city or home to go to. My mother has no home, her people have no home, and their people have no home. Every f**king body has no home. So do I want to dedicate something to Hurricane Katrina? Yeah, tell that b*tch to suck my d*ck. That is my dedication.
AllHipHop.com: On "Feel Me," you stated you used to make a thousand every time you played hooky. So was that the norm, skipping out on school when you were younger?
Lil' Wayne: I wasn't making a stack everyday, because if I was I would still be out there. [Laughter] But you know - yeah - but I didn't really have to skip school because we was right in school. I honestly never skipped school to hustle because I hustled in school. That is where its at. N***as is lying, talking about they getting money on the block. Ain't no money on the block, you have to go somewhere else.
AllHipHop.com: In the booklet for the album, you have a red rag in your pocket and people are wondering if you are claiming Blood?
Lil' Wayne: I don't claim nothing, I claim Cash Money. But I keep a red rag in my pocket though.
AllHipHop.com: Lastly, as the President of Cash Money, what do your new responsibilities entail?
Lil' Wayne: Hiring and f**king firing people! Nah - now my creative thoughts are used more in the decisions. Like, "Wayne, what do you think about this? Or, Wayne, should we do this?" Back then, they probably wouldn't have even thought of my input, so thats mostly what I'm doing. I'm sort of like going through a course and I have to prove something to Baby and them that this is what I want to do and can do. I'm not saying that they don't know. But my whole job right now is to get myself an artist, put them out, make sure they sell, make sure they are phenomenal, and then show them I can run it.