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Lil Wayne has been a dominant force in hip hop for years, as his contributions to the industry have helped pave the way for some of your favorite rappers. In a 2016 interview with The Coveteur, hip hop heavyweight Kendrick Lamar gave props to Weezy F. Baby by saying, “Lil Wayne is the greatest. Not only because of his music, but also because of the culture he put behind it. It was a big part of what he was talking about, so we always hold Lil Wayne in high regards.” Other rappers including Drake, 2 Chainz, Big Sean and many more have shown their love, admiration and respect for the New Orleans native through the years, as well.
After signing to Cash Money Records and stepping on to the scene at the age of 14 as one fourth of the group Hot Boys, Wayne’s affect on the genre has helped cement his rank as one of the best in the game. Reportedly, even former presidential candidate Hilary Clinton referenced Lil Tunechi’s 2009 mixtape No Ceilings during her Democratic National Convention speech. From his lyrical style to his clever wordplay and chart-topping hits, Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. is an indisputable trailblazer in the hip hop community. Among other accolades, back in 2012, the legend made history when he surpassed Elvis Presley by having the most Billboard Hot 100 chart hits as a solo act.
In celebration of his 37th birthday, we’ve put together five ways the rap superstar has redefined the art of hip hop over the course of his career. Check them out below!
Mixtape King: In the late 2000s, Lil Wayne’s music dominance was unmatched. Although, 50 cent was one of the first to capitalize on mixtape success, Tunechi elevated the game by taking it to another level. Pushing the needle forward on how to present music to the masses, from 2002-2009, he released 17 mixtapes coupled with commercial releases and putting his own spin on other artist’s songs.
Young Money Imprint: Young Money Entertainment was founded in 2005 and has greatly impacted the hip hop landscape since its inception. Undoubtedly, when Wayne birthed Young Money, it was one of his best career moves that directly helped launch the careers of Nicki Minaj and Drake, two of the biggest artists in music today. Other high-profile artists formerly on its roster include DJ Khaled, Omarion and Tyga. Continuing the family legacy, his daughter Reginae Carter is an artist on the rise and is currently signed to her father’s label, as well.
However, Young Money extends beyond the music footprint. Within the last few years, the rap superstar has entered the sports arena with the launch of Young Money Sports. It is a premiere sports agency that was established by in 2016, and it handles the marketing and branding efforts of their signed athletes.
In His Own Lane: Countless rapid punchlines and metaphors speak to Lil Wayne’s artistry. His one-of-a-kind style and classic storytelling in songs such as “I Feel Like Dying” painted a vivid picture of being lost in a mental obscurity of drugs. For “Prostitute Flange” and his Grammy award-winning song “Lollipop” from his sixth studio album, Tha Carter III, he switched it up when he used autotune throughout his songs. Many would agree to disagree, but it was definitely an opening for other rap artists such as Future, Migos, and Lil Yachty to heavily utilize the distinctive sound.
Commercial Giant: The critically acclaimed album Tha Carter III debuted at No. 1 and sold more than a million copies in its first week. This was a huge and record-breaking achievement for the culture because during this time, there was a huge decline regarding hip hop albums commercial success. As the music industry and internet landscape were changing, many artists struggled to stay ahead of the game and maintain their loyal fan base. But, Mr. Carter proved his staying power with this achievement.
Hometown Hero: According to NOLA’s congressman Rep. Cedric Richmond, the “Uproar” rapper is “held in the same regards as Louis Armstrong, Fats Domino and Aaron Neville in New Orleans for his contributions in hip hop.” He further stated, “Lil Wayne’s one of the best lyricists of all time,” and dubbed the 37-year-old as the “unofficial mayor of New Orleans” for his game-changing contributions to rap, his community and beyond.
Regardless of Lil Wayne’s massive success, he is always repping his hometown and creating ways to incorporate the Big Easy along his journey. Not only does he rap about his beloved city, but he also invests back into the community that raised him by hosting his annual “Lil Weezyana Festival” in the heart of New Orleans and more.