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It’s no small wonder Lil Wayne thinks like a mastermind. Since his adolescence, he has displayed exceptional talent. Hailing from the tough streets of Hollygrove in the 17th Ward of New Orleans, he was first recruited by Cash Money bosses Bryan “Baby” Williams and Ronald “Slim” Williams. At a mere 11 years old, he had become the youngest artist on the Cash Money roster. The Williams’ brothers tweaked and groomed Wayne’s style, rearing him on early Cash Money artists like Pimp Daddy, UNLV, and BG. Starting off as a member of the super group, The Hot Boys (Juvenile, BG, Turk and Lil Wayne), Wayne shined as a true emerging rap talent, catapulting his solo career. Now, at the ripe age of 20, it is time for him to step out once again. The Carter marks his fourth solo effort and Young Money/Cash Money Records signifies his very own record label.
Since the release of his last solo album 500 Degrees (2002), Wayne has been diligently working on The Carter and Young Money Records. In 1999, Lil Wayne's solo debut Tha Block Is Hot set the platform for the artist’s success. Until this day, Tha Block Is Hot remains one of Cash Money's most triumphant efforts. Lil Wayne’s signature spitfire flow spewed from his wiry, blinged-out frame has made him one of the most recognizable figures in hip-hop. Combining his uncanny charisma of yesterday with his seasoned demeanor of today, The Carter takes listeners on a journey unlike that of any before.
Lil Wayne’s old soul wisdom manifests itself in clever rhymes that balanced the young hustler's lifestyle with a sense of street reared insight. On a tribute to The Hot Boy brotherhood “Man, I Miss My Dogs,” Wayne’s sound is mature and exhibits much more skill. His voice is confident, deeper, and raspier than before. The body-bouncing first single, "Get Something," features party starter Mannie Fresh on the hook. As for the thematic content of his music, Wayne tackles more adult subjects including navigating life’s paths, being a father, and managing money as a youth. The track “Ain’t That A B!%$h” best exemplifies his growth as an artist. The song is an introspective account of the various misfortunes one confronts in life. Moreover, songs like "Travelin’," speak candidly to the experience Wayne has undergone in his tenure as a young hip-hop star. Here, Lil Wayne raps about the assortment of neighborhoods and communities he has seen in his voyages.
Production on the album comes courtesy of resident Cash Money beat machine Mannie Fresh, who laced Lil Wayne with an arsenal of digital funk grooves. “I will always stay true to Mannie Fresh,” says Wayne, “a Fresh beat was the first beat I ever rapped to. It's like he gets younger instead of older because he's so in tune with everything going on in music." Rising southern producer Jazze Pha adds in his instrumental composition ideals along with Raj Smoove, Lil Wayne’s personally handpicked Young Money/Cash Money producer, rounding out the project.
With four records to his credit, Wayne has succeeded in acting as a catalyst in the growth of southern hip-hop. "I love how the south is moving,” Wayne affirms like a proud father, “what David Banner, Lil’ Flip and all of them are doing is hot. When we started, Baby and Slim declared the south was going to blow up and we did." Partially responsible for this positive wave of southern musical gems, Wayne is launching his own record label to enhance the flourishing tradition of the south.
Mix tape superstars, Sqad Up, are Wayne’s Young Money/Cash Money Records debut group. The six-man collective including Wayne has acquired much underground success with their contributions to the street savvy, southern mix tape scene. "Young Money is another leaf that will fall from the Cash Money tree," states Wayne.
With a new album, The Carter, on the horizon, a record label, Young Money/Cash Money Records, launch pending and an integral role in one of hip-hop’s most creative crews, Lil Wayne continues to prolifically govern the game, New Jack City style.