He done it, done it, done it!
OK, so maybe this isn’t the best interview. I got all nervous and had trouble thinking of questions beyond the most obvious ones. Still, this is Lil Wayne, the guy who made one of the best albums of last year, the guy who has the single of the year in “Shooter.” I’ve been writing about him constantly in this space for the past couple of months, and today we hear straight from the man himself in the wake of his ridiculously great performance of “Shooter” on The Tonight Show.
First off, congratulations on the success of Tha Carter II; it’s an incredible album. Is it doing what you expected it to do?
I always say the same thing for every album I’ve ever done: if one person buy it out the stores, then I’m satisfied. That means somebody gets to listen to me. All this is to be heard. That’s all, not just selling.
This being your first album without Mannie Fresh, it seems like, in terms of the music you chose, you went as far outside of what he does as possible. You’ve got a lot of East Coast-style soul-sampling beats and some really hard metal samples, stuff like that. Was that a conscious decision, to get away from the traditional Cash Money sound?
Yeah, because I’m trying to open up a new door for Cash Money itself, and myself alone also. That’s what I had to do. People got used to the same sound. Of course, “Go DJ” was great, but it was done by Mannie Fresh. I’ve done Mannie Fresh music all my career, so this album here was my new beginning.
You’re also rapping different. The way you’re saying stuff is different, and you’re also wrapping your voice around the beat differently. Is that something you’ve been working toward?
I think it all came when I listened to my previous albums and I thought I was rapping too difficult, meaning after I rapped you a line, it would take you a minute to comprehend what I was talking about. I just started simplifying it and putting my twist in, being myself, being sarcastic, being funny, being critical. Whatever I did, I done it. That was my method this time, to simplify my whole shit.
If I say a couple of your lines, could you expand on what you meant?
Yes, I can.
“Riding by myself, well, really not really.”
“Riding by myself, well really not really / So heavy in the trunk make the car pop a wheelie.” Um, when “I say riding by myself, well really not really,” meaning I was strapped, I was prepared, I was ready, I had my tools ready for anything, any type of accident or war or battle. You know, AKA I was strapped. And whatever I was strapped with in the trunk was so heavy that if it was in the trunk it would make the car pop a wheelie.
“Toss you like a fruit salad, strawberry grape ya.”
You know, you gotta toss fruit salad. And the “strawberry grape ya,” I mean, that is in a fruit salad. Just elaborating. I’m funny too. No homo.
How did it feel to perform on Leno?
Of course it felt great. Just meeting dude, when he came into my dressing room and hollered at me, he was real cool. Dude got like a hundred twenty-five cars and a hundred motorcycles, and my dad Birdman, Baby, the Stunna, he got a lot of cars himself, so that was something cool.
So you talked about cars with him?
Yeah, we spoke about a car. We had a female in my dressing room. Mind you, she wasn’t no female of mine, but she was in my dressing room, and he told her that she could ride in his car any day, not me. That’s what I remember. I’ll always remember that.
Are you going to make “Shooter” a single?
Yes, yes, yes! It’s my next single!
It seems like that song could be your “Hard Knock Life,” the song that introduces you to a wider audience.
Ooooh, thank you! Man, you don’t, if I tell you something, you’ll think I’m saying it just to keep the interview going, so I’m not even going to.
Hey, man, that’s the whole shit. Me and my homies, we sit around, and even with the success of this album, we still sit and say I need that “Hard Knock Life” song. I need that song that got Jay over, that “Hard Knock Life” song! And for you to just say that that song is on my album that’s already out, that’s amazing, man.
How did that song come to be?
[Robin Thicke] dropped that song on his album in like 2003. That song was already on his album without me. And before I even met him or knew him, I had his album because I liked his single. So when I bought the album, I heard that song, and I used to ride around on it. And in that song, you know, he’s a real jazzy live-band type of artist, so in that song he had a lot of parts where he wasn’t even singing; it was just the band playing. So in my car, when I would ride to it, I would rap to that part all the time. I told my manager at the time that I always liked that song, and I even rapped it for her and everything. We was like, “That’d be hot if we could do it,” but of course it was outside our farthest dreams that we could ever do it. And who knew that Universal collaborated with Motown, and he was signed to Motown, and I met his manager and him at the office one day. I told him about that song and about my idea, and he was like, “Do it, do it, do it.” And he asked me if I could do something for him, and I done it, done it, done it.
On that song, you talk about region-haters and about the South not getting the level of respect it deserves. Do you feel like that’s changed recently for you?
It’s changed, but not because of me. It’s changed that people look at the South very differently now because of me and a whole lot of others. I cannot forget them, can’t even think about it without thinking about them. I’ve been trying my whole career, and they’ve been sleeping on me and they’re finally listening, and I got a lot of people to thank for that.
I’d heard that the Georgia Power tour was going to start up again or something like that; are you still on it?
I got my own tour about to start in March. It’s called the On Fire Tour, and this is my own tour that I’m headlining. It’ll be my first ever tour that I’ll be headlining, so uh-oh!
Are you coming to New York on that tour?
I’m going everywhere. We even going to Europe, baby. It’s a worldwide tour. Jay Leno mentioned it on his show.
What does your position as President of Cash Money entail?
Well, my position now, my job now, my everyday job is to build this company and make it as successful as it can be. But to start off a new chapter, I got to make the book as beautiful as it can be, and right now the only way to do that is to blow my album up as big as I can, so therefore people know that Cash Money is still alive and that Lil Wayne is in front of it. Lil Wayne is about to be the ship-leader, so therefore they pay attention to whatever I do. My first artist, Currency, he’s also on my album, and he got about thirty billion singles on his album; I can’t even think which one’s coming out first. It’s going to be crazy. We also still have Ms. Teena Marie and people like KeKe Wyatt and Lil Mo. I plan to do great things for they projects too.
Final question: the big news in rap today is Cam’ron dissing Jay-Z. You’ve had interactions with both of them in the past; do you have any feelings about it?
Oh, no. I never have no feelings about another man’s problems.