Rapper Lil Wayne is a millionaire many times over. What made him so famous?
Lil Wayne has been rapping and releasing music since he was 12 years old, in 1995. When he was 17, he released his first solo album, which debuted at number 3 on the charts, in 1999. Lil Wayne’s fame arguably peaked in 2008 when he released his best-selling album so far—Tha Carter III.
Let’s take a look at the life and career of Lil Wayne in more detail.
The Beginnings of Lil Wayne
Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. was born on September 27, 1982, in New Orleans, Louisiana. His parents got a divorce when he was 2 years old, and his father soon abandoned the family.
His mother got remarried and Lil Wayne considered his step-father as his real dad, but unfortunately Reginald “Rabbit” McDonald was murdered when Lil Wayne was 14. The rapper got a tattoo to commemorate his father figure, which reads “Rabbit.”
Lil Wayne shared a picture of the late Rabbit, in 2016:
Why is he called “Lil Wayne?”
Lil Wayne revealed in an interview, “I dropped the D because I’m a junior and my father is living and he’s not in my life and he’s never been in my life. So I don’t want to be Dwayne, I’d rather be Wayne.”
Lil Wayne began his path to rapper stardom when he was just 8 years old. He started rapping and writing songs which would ultimately prepare him for the start of his career.
The following year, in 1991, he met Birdman, the owner of Cash Money Records, and established rapper.
Lil Wayne apparently had an entrepreneurial mind since he was child. In a bid to prompt Birdman to mentor the young rapper, Lil Wayne started to leave messages on Birdman’s answering machine.
“I did that every day after school,” explained Lil Wayne. “That was something I looked forward to from nine o’clock in the morning—getting home and leaving another rap on [Birdman’s] voicemail.”
The relentless calls worked. Birdman began coaching Lil Wayne, and when he was only 11 years old, arranged for him to form a duo with 14-year-old rapper B.G.
The duo called themselves “The B.G.z”—short for “Baby Gangstaz and also a play on the disco group the “Bee Gees.”
The duo had a small release of their first album—True Story—in 1995. Lil Wayne, who at the time went by the moniker “Baby D,” rapped on only three of the tracks.
A few years later, in 1999, the album was re-released, and sold 20,000 copies. In the same year B.G. released his album Chopper City in the Ghetto and included Lil Wayne on the track “Niggaz In Trouble.”
Almost Ending It All
When Lil Wayne was 12 years old, he tried to kill himself. He shot himself in the chest. For a long time, Lil Wayne maintained it was an accident.
But in 2015, on the track “London Roads,” he told a different story in the lyrics: I remember goin’ in your gun drawer/ Puttin’ it to my chest and missin’ my heart by centimeters/ Oh Lord.
The bullet travelled through his body and out of a window. He then managed to crawl to the phone and dial 911. When the cops arrived Lil Wayne said they jumped over his dying body in order to search the apartment.
It was only once an off-duty cop, Officer Robert Hoobler, arrived, after hearing the 911 call on his radio, that Lil Wayne finally received assistance. Hoobler told his colleague to drive his car, while he held Lil Wayne in the back seat.
Medical personnel explained that if they had waited for an ambulance to arrive or taken the boy to a “charity” medical center, Lil Wayne would have most likely died.
The pair got in contact in Lil Wayne’s later life.
Finding Commercial Success
The Hot Boys’ second album, Guerrilla Warfare, reached number 1 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and number 5 on the main chart.
The same year, Lil Wayne, released his debut solo album, Tha Block Is Hot (1999). The album debuted at number 3 on the Billboard 200, and was eventually certified platinum.
In 2008, Lil Wayne released his sixth studio album—Tha Carter III—becoming his first number 1 album. It sold 3,800,000 copies in the US.
Lil Wayne went on to have several more number 1 albums.
The rapper is estimated to have a net worth of $150 million.