#IfItWasn'tForLilWayne... Revisiting Lil Wayne's indisputable impact on music
Looking back at the Louisanimal’s game-changing contributions to rap and beyond.
For almost two decades, Lil Wayne redefined the art of rap, wowed the world with a string of multi-platinum releases, and foisted his way into the Mount Rushmore of Best Rappers Alive. Not bad for a man who prefers to be called anything but human.
For all that he has accomplished, the mere thought of Wayne one day calling it quits causes a rumble to the rap foundation. Case in point, almost two years ago, Wayne tweeted words that insinuated an imminent retirement and that one message was enough to cause the entire rap world to sound the alarm. Thankfully, though, those words didn’t become reality. In fact, we’re still unsure what that was all about, besides it having to do with his ongoing legal fight with Birdman and Cash Money Records.
Earlier today (June 7), it was reported by The Blast and confirmed by Pitchfork that Wayne and Birdman settled their long-running lawsuit, which has stemmed since May 2015. In addition, it has also been reported that Universal Republic will finally release Wayne’s long-delayed Tha Carter V. While an official statement from both sides have yet to be announced, the news emphasizes a declaration Wayne gave us almost 10 summers ago: “Two words you never hear, Wayne quit.”
The line to that very song, “Mr. Carter,” lives on Wayne’s critically-acclaimed album Tha Carter III, which turns 10 this month (June 10). So as we celebrate the album and the news, let’s look back on the insurmountable foundation laid by the perennial rap beast.
#IfItWasn’tForLilWayne… We wouldn’t hold mixtapes to the standard they are held at today.
From the Sqad Up series to the DJ Drama-hosted Dedication, Da Drought and No Ceilings, Wayne redefined the art of rap, ripping apart your favorite rapper’s instrumentals and making them his own. He took Ludacris’ ode to Georgia and flipped it into a political statement. In 2006, he grabbed Jay Z’s “Show Me What You Got,” and everyone’s attention altogether, to assert his contention for an invite to the rap gods’ table. Taking Mike Jones’ “Mr. Jones,” he once reminded the world that the “Sky is the Limit,” which even prompted Hilary Clinton to lift some of its lines for her speech at the Democratic National Convention. Long live Mixtape Weezy.
#IfItWasn’tForLilWayne… We wouldn’t have the two iconic/legendary hip hop terms: “Drop It Like It’s Hot” and “Bling Bling”.
The phrase “Drop it like its hot” went on to be repurposed and turned into a No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 by Snoop Dogg in 2004, revitalizing his career and giving the icon his first and only No. 1 pop hit. Likewise, “Bling Bling” went on to be added to Webster’s dictionary and a crossover term used by all of America. Both of these terms were originated from Wayne. “Bling Bling” was the chorus he wrote for B.G.’s breakout single back in 1999 and “Drop It Like Its Hot” was his adlib at the end of Juvenile’s 1999 smash “Back That Azz Up”. Point being, Wayne gave us cultural staples basically in his sleep.
#IfItWasn’tForLilWayne… We wouldn’t have a bulk of the rap stars we have today
From the SoundCloud rap stars to the cemented titans of today, Weezy has brushed his influence on them all. From Trippie Redd and Lil Uzi Vert to Young Thug, Big Sean and Kendrick Lamar to name a few, Wayne’s influence is strong. Back in 2009, K. Dot relayed his fandom for Wayne on the mixtape, C4. In a March interview with The Coveteur, the Compton spitter referred to him as “the greatest.”
“We was just huge, still to this day, huge Lil Wayne fans,” he shared. “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. Juvenile as well. And yeah, it’s the impact of them man. To be a part of it the same way he was a part of it years later is just a great feeling.”
#IfItWasn’tForLilWayne… We wouldn’t have Drake, Nicki Minaj and the Young Money army that has undoubtedly redefined pop culture over the past five years.
Nicki Minaj said it best on “Freedom”: “If you in the club, then it’s a Young Money recital.” Between award wins, record sales, the rarified heights these artists have climbed and beyond, nothing else has to be said here.
#IfItWasn’tForLilWayne… There would be no two decade of dominance for Cash Money.
Before you balk at the statement, let’s take a trip back to December 2004. In 2004, Wayne dropped Tha Carter, a critical success and commercial breakthrough that earned a No. 5 position on the Billboard 200 chart. At the time, Jay Z had just taken over as president of Def Jam and as the story goes, his eyes were set on bringing Wayne to the historic label. “The truth is after I had a meeting with Wayne — I had a relationship with Baby, when I used to go to New Orleans I would meet up with him. So, I felt it was only right to call him,” Jay revealed in a 2013 interview on The Breakfast Club. “I called him out of respect like ‘Yo, I was talking to Wayne. Just to let you know. Boom boom boom.’” By the end of the year, it seemed like the deal was done, leading Wayne to announce from the stage during a show one time, “I’m a Def Jam artist now. Next time you see me, I’m gonna be with my boy Jay Z.” Ultimately, things quickly changed and Baby eventually lured Wayne back to Cash Money.
“After [the talk with Birdman] I think we received a letter at our office for like torturous interference from a lawyer,” Jay continued in the said interview. “And it all just went from there. I would rather lose that situation and do the right thing than the opposite. ‘Cause I think I could have signed [Wayne] and then told [Birdman] after. I did the right thing and I’m cool with that decision.” By February 7, 2005, all loose ends were tied and Lil Wayne officially re-signed with Cash Money Records. He was also gifted with his own label, thus Young Money Records was born. “It was very very tough,” Wayne said years later. “But you know, I’m a loyal dude, I stick with the fam.” If Wayne didn’t re-sign, you have to think: How would the landscape of music change? Would Cash Money even be around? Where would that leave Drake and Nicki Minaj?
#IfItWasn’tForLilWayne… We wouldn’t have “Mr. Carter,” the record that saw Jay Z, for the first time, passing over the torch.
“I’m right here in my chair with my crown and my dear, Queen B, as I share mic time with my heir,” Hov raps, before advising Wayne to “go farther, go further, go harder.” This would mark one of the rare collaborations between the two.
#IfItWasn’tForLilWayne… There would be no such thing as a Guinness World Record for “Most US Hot 100 hits by a rapper.
As of April 2016, Weezy has placed 129 different songs on the Billboard Hot 100 since the chart debuted in August 1958. His chart reign began with 1999’s “Back that Thang Up” through the 129th entry that is “Gotta Lotta”, a collaboration with 2 Chainz. According to Guinness, Weezy has appeared on the Hot 100 as a lead artist 46 times, with 83 appearances as a featured artist. He holds the title for Most US Hot 100 hits by a rapper.
#IfItWasn’tForLilWayne… We wouldn’t have Tha Carter series
Say what you want about everything past Tha Carter II, but one thing for certain is the New Orleans-bred genius’ Carter series is the most impactful album series in music. His career trajectory is illustrated on each installment. On the first Carter‘s, the world saw a young lyricist coming into his own as a formidable MC. On Tha Carter III, he proved to be “so far from the others.” With contributions from icons like Kanye West, Swizz Beatz and JAY-Z, who figuratively handed Weezy the torch as rap’s new kingpin on their perfectly titled anthem “Mr. Carter” — Wayne earned more than just co-signs; he got a seat at the table — the table. With Carter III, we saw the changing of the guard as Wayne cemented himself a new legend — all the while declaring, “Next time you mention Pac, Biggie or Jay-Z, don’t forget Weezy baby!”
Of course, this is all just some of so many foundations and contributions to name. Head over to Twitter to join REVOLT with the hashtag #IfItWasntForLilWayne to reiterate the greatness of Lil Wayne and his indisputable impact on music.