Lil Wayne is a genius, and not simply because he spends seven days a week in the studio, recording some of the most lyrically intricate, metaphor-laced verses in the history of the rap game off the top of his head, no pen, no pad.
Recording without notes is not what makes him a genius--and neither does the quality of his marathon studio sessions, which consistently produce platinum-selling albums and critically acclaimed mixtapes like Dedication 2 (2006), Da Drought 3 (2007) and No Ceilings (2009), or the fact that he's been recording with the same tenacity since he joined The Cash Money Records crew The Hot Boyz when he was 9 years old (releasing his first platinum-selling album Tha Block Is Hot in 1999 when he was 16).
Lil Wayne is a genius because he's somehow managed to do a few things that many rappers haven't been able to do. The New Orleans-native has remained commercially viable over the years--at a time when the music industry was just beginning to feel the effects of declining music sales, Wayne sold more than a million copies of his sixth studio album, Tha Carter III (2008) in its first week of sales. He also picked up the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album for the project.
If you've been paying attention, you'd also notice that Weezy is not only a member but has also graduated to the head of Young Money, Cash Money Records, which has the distinction of being the longest running crew and record label in hip-hop to remain continuously on top of the game.
Remember Jay-Z's Roc-A-Fella, Master P's No Limit, and Diddy's Bad Boy? We do, too, but none of them have outlived the Cash Money Records label--which, after 14 years in the spotlight (21 since its founding) has still managed to keep multiple artists on the top of the charts (currently: Wayne, Drake, Nicki Minaj).
He's also been name-checked by the president of the United States in several formal addresses and public appearances. What other rapper short of maybe Jay-Z, can say that?
The Young Money/Cash Money General has also matured over the years with his music, straying away from one-dimensional presentations of the stereotypical topics that any Johnny Hood Rapper would gravitate toward--sex, drugs and money and, instead, focusing on straightforward yet clever commentary from his seasoned point of view on these issues.
Quiet as it's kept, Lil Wayne is one of the greatest rappers of all time, or as he calls himself "the greatest rapper alive." Not even career speed bumps, like his 2010 eight-month incarceration for a gun charge, have been able to stop him. The lyrical master managed to release two projects from behind bars--his rock-inspired Rebirth, which sold 175,600 units in the first week despite being leaked months before its official release, and I Am Not a Human Being this past fall.
Now that Wayne is free, and done with experimenting with rock music, the upcoming Carter IV album is expected to be the true follow-up to his Grammy Award-winning Tha Carter II, as well as his next classic.
Can he sell another million in its first week? "6 Foot 7 Foot," the first single off this highly anticipated album, serves as the litmus test.
In the video for the single, Wayne's affinity for the film Inception and renowned video director Hype Williams' desire to play off the cleverness of Weezy's lyrics, clash on screen. Check it out.