Fresh off topping the Billboard charts once again, Lil Wayne continues his run up to Tha Carter V by gracing the August/September issue of XXL. For the cover Jeff Weiss interviewed Wayne at, where else but a skatepark, and touched on a plethora of topics from Carter V, to signing Drake and Nicki Minaj and authenticity in Hip-Hop.
On what drew him into Drake and Nicki:
“Call me old-fashioned and country, but with Drake, that was the first time I’d seen someone that knew how to sing and rap. That’s all it was. I didn’t know nobody who knew how to do that. You had those old school singing niggas, where people would do a little eight-bar verse on their songs. But [Drake] was spitting and singing and killing that too. It took a while though. It wasn’t until I heard him spitting on one of my beats when I was like, ‘This fool’s retarded.’ When I hear something that I know I can’t do better? That’s when I’m like, ‘They need to be on the team.’”
“I wanted a female. Every team needs a female to rep your gang. She was annihilating niggas. I mean males. I was like, ‘I have to beef my shit up on that muthafucka.’ She just knocked it out the park from day one. She’s just Nicki. I don’t know whose idea it was, but it was a good idea.”
On authenticity in today’s rap climate:
“I know I’m authentic because I’m 35 million years in the game. I don’t know where the authenticity is in the game anymore. Today everyone sounds alike, they looking alike, they acting alike, they dressing alike. I came out when everybody was super different. You had an ODB. You had a Busta Rhymes and then you had a 2Pac. You had a Biggie. And everybody was different. Biggie was talking about Mob and Mafia shit. 2Pac was wylin’, talking about West Coast this and that. You had niggas like Meth and Red talking about how high they got and making people laugh. And then now, you got them, them. You got the categories and then everyone falls under it.”
Remember when that “Largest vocabulary in Hip-Hop” piece came out, and Wayne was below The Bell Curve, and methinks that bit him in the ass right here. I think Wayne was going for “unique” here, at least I hope so, and yes he is definitely unique. A “fake Blood” can only be so “authentic,” and really doesn’t have much room to preach about authenticity.
But he mentions all these legendary artist, and how they carved their own niche, and “everybody was different” and that makes a ton of sense. That’s why Wayne stands out in today’s climate, he’s always himself, for better or for worse. Whether it’s the way he dresses or the music he makes, he remains unique above all. Tune at his best is both exploratory and unorthodox, but that type of exploration can also spawn a few duds here and there (think Rebirth or Yeezus). This is what makes Wayne, Wayne.
A part of that individuality is noted when Wayne also mentions that Prince – yep, Prince – is a huge musical influence.
“It was the way he pronounced words and the way he used his voice. It was like if he was playing with a baby. You know if he was playing with a kid. [Imitates a baby cooing] It was the way that he was exploring it. He wasn’t doing it because it was funny. He was doing it because he could make it sound good and exceptional. I realized that I could do that too. He wasn’t afraid of how he sounded because he knew what he was saying and how he was saying it would always sound good.”
Is there video of Wayne imitating cooing? Am I the only one who wants to see this, if only for the laughs? Besides that though, this actually makes a lot of sense, and could explain Wayne’s delving into more singing and harmonizing.
Who knows when Carter V will be released, but with Weezy stepping up his presence in the media it certainly feels like the album will be here soon. Whenever they want to knock out that video for “Believe Me” or drop the next single is perfectly fine with me.
The Aug/Sept issue of XXL hits newsstands everywhere August 12th and the full interview can be read here.