Lil Wayne skates towards the future at light speed. Constantly recording music and honing those extraterrestrial rap skills, his wild work ethic will never allow him to slow down or stop evolving. That’s why he’s deservedly become a record-breaking hip-hop icon with millions of albums and digital singles sold, four Grammy Awards under his belt, and legions of fans worldwide. However, tomorrow matters the most, and the future is looking brighter than ever. Wayne’s tenth full-length album, I Am Not a Human Being 2 out March 26 via Cash Money Records, sees him conquer an entirely new planet altogether.
It’s a world where wonderfully weird production quakes underneath the MC’s impenetrable, incomparable, and impeccable flow. It’s a place where his viscerally visual lyrics wrap around sexy, slinky hooks. Like any classic sequel, it builds upon the original—in this case, 2010′s platinum-selling I Am Not a Human Being—and then expands upon it. The hallmarks of his style once again reaches another plateau altogether. It’s surely not human. In fact, it’s out of this world in the best way possible.
His 2011 offering, Tha Carter IV, debuted at #1 on The Billboard Top 200, moving a staggering 964,000 copies in its first week of release and eventually going triple platinum. Wayne didn’t rest on his laurels though. He began recording tracks that would eventually become I Am Not a Human Being 2 at the beginning of 2012, without even taking so much as a breath between records.
In early summer, I Am Not a Human Being 2′s first single “My Homies Still” featuring Big Sean opened up the doors to the album with warbling beats, fiery rapping, and an anthemic refrain. Tapping into the same hyper kinetic energy, “No Worries” featuring Detail went on a rowdy roller coaster, held to the rails only by an infectious melody and hilariously clever boasts. Meanwhile, the year ended on a high note with the rousing third single “Love Me” featuring Drake & Future. Going gold within weeks, the track formally heralded the onset of the full body of work for 2013. Once again, Wayne enlisted the cream of the crop in the studio. From Atlanta’s reigning trap king 2 Chainz, Memphis’s finest Juicy J, and “Da Baddest Bitch” Trina to rising talent like Boo, Gunplay, and Gudda Gudda, modern hip-hop is represented across the board. As far as production goes, Cool & Dre, Detail, T-Minus, and more unearth all kinds of wildly whacked-out beats for this ride.
The title track, “IANAHB”, might as well be a declaration of Wayne’s mindset at the moment. He’s not like anybody else out there, and he’s continually proven that in the studio and on stage. At the same time, he’s also made history at every turn. He recently smashed the record for most Billboard Hot 100 hits, previously held by none other than Elvis Presely. His tally thus far surpasses 110 entries on the chart.
Simultaneously, he takes his duties outside of rapping very seriously. As the C.E.O. of Young Money Entertainment, he’s a shrewd, savvy, smart businessman and mogul who is always ahead of the curve. The Cash Money Records imprint’s signings include rap and pop titans Drake, Nicki Minaj, and Tyga.
Even if you don’t hear his music, you’ll see and feel his impact. An accomplished skateboarder himself and skateboard culture aficionado, he envisioned and launched the massively popular TRUKFIT clothing line. The acronym “The Reason U Kill For IT” holds a special place in his heart as it references the days when he’d purchase replica clothing items from back of a truck, passing through his neighborhood of Hollygrove, New Orleans. He reversed the saying “you got the truck fit” and made it chic. The brand has become ubiquitous amongst prominent athletes, celebrities, and musicians with everyone from Rihanna to Rob Dyrdek to Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit touting the swag. It’s also infiltrated major retailers such as Macy’s, Tilly’s, Footaction, Zumiez, and more.
Wayne always remembers where he came from as well, never losing sight of New Orleans. To mark his thirtieth birthday, he personally opened up the Trukstop Skate Park in the Lower 9th Ward Village—one of the few surviving structures from Hurricane Katrina. It’s comprised of only recycled materials and powered by solar energy, giving the youth a positive place to go, skate, and socialize seven days a week.
Speaking of his beginnings, Wayne’s story is one of tireless triumph. ‘Adopted’ by Cash Money Records Co-CEOs Bryan “Birdman” Williams and Ronald “Slim” Williams at barely ten-years-old and signed to the label, he eventually joined one of the most crucial rap groups ever The Hot Boys in 1997. He started paving his own path quickly though. His 1999 solo debut, Block Is Hot, remains a classic. Meanwhile, Lights Out (2000) and 500 Degreez (2002) laid the groundwork for him to kick off Tha Carter series with the first installment in 2004 followed up by 2005′s sensation Tha Carter II, the groundbreaking and Grammy Award-winning Tha Carter III in 2008, and then The Carter IV in 2011.
Wayne may be moving faster than ever, but he’s always reinventing himself and hip-hop as he goes.