Hip Hop Culture for Grown-Ups
Words by Tony Grands
Keep ya head up, Weezy.
I’ve written about Lil Wayne quite a few times over the years. I once even helped a couple of readers realize they were fans of his, even as they tried to dispute it. Lil Wayne is one of those artists that has been around, continuously making music for so long that we’ve taken his contributions to us getting high or shaking our collective asses for granted. I can admit that I am a fan of his music. Not necessarily what he represents or glorifies, but shit, I only expect so much for my entertainment to begin with. Rapping about gang life is terrible, but ultimately it’s not a problem I’m willing to try and solve. I have better things to do with my time.
Meanwhile, Lil Wayne has been on a solid tear through rap music longer than the majority of his contemporaries. Since the late-90s at least, whether you can willingly admit it or not, he’s been a staple of the genre, churning out hits and influence and the denial of any of his momentum says more about you than it does about him. Lil Wayne is the type of rapper who generates jokes for days, but he has more than earned my respect. And a wee bit of gratitude, as well. “Go DJ” is literally a #GrandsClan anthem. Hell, so is that police lady song.
To watch Lil Wayne go out like this, with a man that he clearly looks up to treating him like an amateur he scooped up off of the sidewalk is confusing. This isn’t the first time Baby “Birdman” Williams has mistreated or otherwise gorilla-pimped one of his artists, but I don’t think anyone saw him rubbing his hands in Lil Wayne’s direction.
I wish I had the energy to research how many times Weezy referred to Baby as his pops over the years. Gotta be in the thousands. In fact, the more I think about it, the more it seems like Wayne is suffering from a mild form of Stockholm Syndrome.
They acted like they were really father and son. So much so that, if you look back at pictures over time, you can see that Wayne and Birdman began to get all these face tattoos around the same time. If that’s not some mega-ghetto, daddy and son bonding shit, I don’t know what it is. And let’s not forget about the kiss seen ’round the ‘Net. I even recall Birdman buying Lil Wayne a million dollar watch for his birthday a couple of years ago. Most label bosses don’t do that for their artists. If I had a million dollars to throw away, some extra money I didn’t need (because I’m already ludicrously wealthy from greed), I would definitely drop that much cash on my son. Or the closest thing to a son I have. So that, I understand.
Devil’s advocately-speaking, though, I can also understand using a million dollar watch (or chain or whip) to pacify, manipulate, or distract, a la Suge Knight during his reign at Death Row records. It appears Wayne is tired of getting compensated instead of being paid and to make matters worse, he’s publicly being replaced by Young Thug. Literally. This technically makes Birdman a deadbeat dad, possibly the most extravagant one of all time.
The drama is unfolding into a bigger soap opera than the Internet could have ever hoped for. Like Love and Hip Hop: Origami.
Lil Wayne has deployed his legal goon squad and set forth an $8 million lawsuit against the man he was once stunting like. And although we know how shady the music industry is, it’s a bit sad to see such a visible, somewhat tangible partnership dissipate before our collective eyes.[gallery type=”slideshow” ids=”19148,19146,19145,19142,19143,19140,19141,19139,19138,19137,19136,19134,19135,19133,19132,19144″]
Fret not, though. It’s not like Wayne can’t rebound from this. He should have transitioned his career over to the independent route a long time ago. Perhaps he couldn’t then but it’s definitely not too late. He’s getting money from somewhere to buy all those tattoos, and he may just find himself having to reestablish certain aspects of his career once this obstacle is cleared. Which he can totally do, as long as Young Thug doesn’t snuff him out. Dewayne survived shooting himself, drug addiction, prison, and all the grief a crew of babymommas could possibly hurl at one man. According to White people folklore, he’s a superhero. He’ll bounce back.
Until then, enjoy the sounds of Young Thug.
Words by Tony Grands
Follow on Twitter here