Q&A: Lil Wayne on Weed, Jay-Z and Rhyming on Answering Machines
Lil Wayne sold a million copies of Tha Carter III its debut week, making him the first artist to pull off the feat since 50 Cent went platinum with The Massacre in a mere seven days in 2005 (which was a much rosier time for the music industry). On the day the album came out, Weezy talked to Rolling Stone about his unique sales strategy, Barack Obama, tattoos and the drawbacks of being high all the time.
What's the thinking behind releasing so many mixtapes and collaborations?
I like to just flood it. You might not like everything. When I put out so many different mixtapes and songs, you can't help to at least know me. If I get that one moment of attention, then I know I'm going to make you like me.
"Lollipop" sounds so different from anything else you've ever done. How did it come together?
My homeboy Static, the guy who's on the song with me, it was all his idea. He brought the song to me with his vocals already on there, the beat was already done and I just laid my vocals to it. The decision to make it the single was evident right after I finished recording it. Everybody in the studio knew this was the one. We had some females in there and they were going crazy.
Your last album didn't really have any breakout singles — were you trying to change that with this album?
I think you want to do that with every album. You want every record to be bigger than the last. That Tha Carter II didn't do what I wanted it to do was a disappointment because I put my all into it, just like I did with this one, but I ain't gonna dwell on it. I'm very successful and very happy.
On "Mr. Carter," Jay-Z calls you "my heir, Young Carter" — that had to feel pretty cool.
That line right there was hard! Unbelievable. I didn't even realize it at first. My homie had to tell me "You know what he said, right?" I didn't even get it. I was like, "Why is he saying 'air'? Is he just talking about the air?" But I'm smart enough to know that he's smart enough not to just be talking about the air. I felt real dumb, but then I felt so good. It was an incredible compliment.
You never write down your rhymes. Do you ever forget good stuff?
I do that a lot and it sucks. That's why I keep the studio with me everywhere I go. I can just hook up the studio straight to my laptop and start recording. I don't memorize lyrics like a speech. I just go to the studio and think of it right there. I just let the beat play a trillion times and I go in there and record four bars or whatever I thought of so I can get it off my mind and start thinking about something else. That's why I do my songs so quick.
You did over a hundred guest appearances in the last year and a half. What's the strangest request you've ever got?
I get some crazy people asking me to do songs. The strangest one was probably Trina's single, she asked to jump on "Single Again" when clearly [our breakup] was the subject of the song. That was kinda weird, but I did it.
How do you feel about Obama getting the nomination?
It means a whole lot to me, being African-American and being 25 years of age, to live and breathe in this day and time and see history being made. Whether he wins it or not, this is history. I was just talking about that yesterday, in our lifetimes, we're able to see a whole lot of history and it's wonderful.
You used to leave raps on Cash Money CEO Baby's answering machine. What did you say?
Yeah, they were real raps, not like, "Hello, I'm leaving a message." Every time he saw me, he asked me to rap so whenever I called him and he didn't pick up, I'd leave a rap. I was about 12, I didn't understand that no grown-ass man wants you calling his phone all day. That's why I got the voice mail a lot.
How did you come up with the album cover?
I just wanted to put my baby picture up there like Nas and Biggie did — all those albums when people did that, they were memorable, legendary albums. You don't forget those albums. The tattoo idea came later. I just thought it would be funny.
Are you addicted to tattoos?
Yeah, I am. I just got two or three of them yesterday. I get em every other day, it's really not even a question.
When did you have your first joint?
I was probably about 11. It was before Cash Money. It was me and some niggas who had been smoking for years, so I had to act like I had been too. I grew up pretty fast. I ran with an older crowd. Childhood never was exciting to me and it still isn't.
Does smoking so much weed have any side effects?
Yeah, I forget a lot of shit. but that's why I have assistants and they have assistants, so I'll be all right. I don't forget any of my money, that's the most important part.