On the train with my girlfriend this past weekend, our conversation somehow ended up on Lil Wayne. A long-time fan of Weezy since his Hot Boys days, her only comment regarding his recent health scare was, “I’m glad he’s alive, but honestly, I’m surprised he’s still here.”
Last Friday, as most of us were either at happy hour or getting ready to begin our weekends, the news of what TMZ originally reported as Wayne being damn near dead stopped Hip-Hop in its tracks. He went from having seizures, to being placed in a medically induced coma to being read his final rites all in what felt like the blink of an eye, pull of a blunt or, in this case, sip of a double cup. Right then, my only thought was, “Wayne finally did it. He finally overdosed.”
Cash Money has done their best to dispel the rumor Wayne’s hospital stay had nothing do with drugs, even going as far to attack TMZ’s credibility. Yet, a looming black cloud over the situation seems to say TMZ wasn’t totally offbase in their reporting. Something very, very serious happened to Lil Wayne on Friday. Whether it revolved around codeine – which he allegedly had to have his stomach pumped three times for – isn’t for me to carve in stone.
As I’ve stated multiple times, I’m a Wayne fan, and have been long before the “Get Off The Corner” days. There was a time Friday night, however, when I believed Weezy had kicked the bucket and one of the most prolific and talented artists of my generation (yes, he is) had met his demise because of his own undoing, much like so many before him. And truthfully, the thought still lingers. As an addict, complete safety from vices is never an attainable goal because you’re always recovering. You just pray you never relapse. I’ve got cousins who are addicts – some of whom have been clean for years and some who are doing God knows what at the moment. Money and time can’t change demons. They only heightens them in some cases.
Those demons, whatever they were, led Wayne to a serious health scare last weekend. Those demons led to a highly-publicized stay in ICU. Stunna, Mack Maine and Cash Money’s PR machine can do their best to spin this, making it seem like neither foul play nor drugs were involved, but Wayne’s past history make this hard to ignore. His love affair with substances led him to once admit, “And to the kids drugs kill, I’m acknowledging that/But when I’m on the drugs, I don’t have a problem with that.”
Track back to the QD3 documentary detailing Wayne’s life in 2008 and you’ll see the incredible amounts of lean consumption, Wayne even once describing how to concoct the beverage from scratch. For as talented as Wayne proved to be in the film, it revealed a Dr. Carter teetering on the edge of personal destruction and a Wayne whose work ethic rivaled him with only the truest icons of rap.
It’s no surprise Cash Money attempted to have the documentary axed. Just like it is no surprise how Cash Money’s trying to make sure this situation – including Mack telling Necole Bitchie in his interview with XXL that he did not know who sent Wayne’s “I’m good” tweet – never happened, although they have never once really addressed the codeine issue. Like I said, I’m not here to say what caused Wayne to – what I will forever truly believe – fight for his life one March weekend. The moment, however, took me back to my senior year in college when I connected with Wayne’s music maybe more than any time in my life.
I understood Weezy in one regard – I hated being sober. I hated it to the point I operated under the influence of weed and/or alcohol constantly. To be fair, though, my methods to achieving a level of anti-sobriety paled in comparison to his, but a mutual understanding was formed on the need to have some sort of out of body experience to channel whatever creative exuberance I felt I needed.
“Me And My Drank” was released around this same time and continues to rank as potentially Wayne’s most personal record. Recorded at the height of his codeine days, an almost incoherent Tunechi professed his addictive and possibly fatal love for “drank.” Through the crooning, there was pain–a cry for help even as he drowned in the depths of his vice.
“I hate when she away and hate to see the day
That hell freezes over before I let her go
And let one of you bitch niggas get her no no no
You don’t know how to treat her
You don’t know that I need her
Hey… do you know that I need ya
Cuz baby right now
I’m feelin like the whole world is against me
Ever since the death of Pimp C…”
It’s one of the least talked about records from his catalog, but one with a resounding impact. He paid homage to DJ Screw, Big Moe and Pimp C, all of whom were famously associated with lean prior to their deaths. Although he admitted his closest friends didn’t condone his addiction to the drink*, the biggest enabler of Wayne’s addiction was himself. Such is the reason why Wayne’s increasingly erratic behavior has quietly led me to believe something dangerous was bubbling to a violent conclusion.
There was his ejection from the Lakers/Heat game a few weeks back. Then his personal war against the Heat, most notably Chris Bosh’s wife. Throw his controversial line in Future’s “Karate Chop (Remix),” which isn’t an earth-shattering deal in perspective, but worth noting nonetheless. And then Drake’s sort-of-prophetic warning of “Weezy been on the edge, you niggas just need to chill” on “5 A.M. In Toronto.” Warning signs were present for Wayne.
The question now remains what will Cash Money do next? Act as if the dust-up was nothing serious, allowing Wayne to return back to the lifestyle that led to intensive care? Enroll him in rehab that would inevitably cause him to fall back from the public eye, which is not necessarily a bad thing? Whatever the case may be, Cash Money’s best interest revolves around playing these next few weeks with extreme caution.
Lil Wayne needs help. For what, exactly, I’m not sure. But it’s something good kush, good alcohol and bad bitches are incapable of curing. At the moment, at least. Love or hate the guy, still listen to him regularly or not, he’s one of our own, flaws and all. That’s why it’s been rough watching him struggle to regain his footing both musically and creatively since leaving prison.
I remember the last few months of Pimp C’s life. Amy Winehouse’s, too. God willing, I’m not trying walk that path again.
Lil Wayne Ft. Short Dawg – “Me & My Drank”
* – In the aforementioned documentary, his manager Cortez Bryant noted he didn’t like being in Wayne’s presence when he was under the influence.