Lil Wayne (sometimes stylized as lil wayne) is an American rapper.
Born Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. on September 27, 1982, in New Orleans, Louisiana. One of today's most talented rappers, Lil Wayne has been creating rhymes since he was a child. He grew up in Hollygrove, one of New Orleans's poorest neighborhoods.
At the age of eight, Wayne started rapping. He later met brothers Bryan and Slim Williams, the founders of Cash Money Records, who were impressed enough with his skills to give him one of their business cards. Ambitious, Wayne kept calling them until they took him under their wings and let him hang around the label's offices.
Lil Wayne's first recording for Cash Money Records was True Stories (1993), performing with another skilled rapper B.G. under the name the BGs. Away from the studios, he was living dangerously. He sold crack for a time, and accidentally shot himself in the chest, according to an article in Rolling Stone. "It was my mom's gun" he told the magazine in 2008. "It was like a chopper hit me. But the bullet went straight through, and I bounced back in two weeks."
As part of the Hot Boys, Wayne got his first taste of success. The group was made up of several of Cash Money's rising stars—B.G., Juvenile, Turk, and Wayne. Their debut album, Get It How U Live, sold more than 400,000 copies. Their next effort, Guerilla Warfare (1999) did even better, eventually selling more than 1 million copies. At the age of 16, Wayne was on his way to music stardom.
That same year, Lil Wayne launched his solo career with Tha Block Is Hot (1999). The title track was a big hit, and the album reached the top of the hip-hop charts. Featuring appearances by members of the Hot Boys as well as the Big Tymers (Brian Williams and Mannie Fresh), the recording went double platinum. Fresh also served as Wayne's producer for the recording.
The sales for his next two albums, Lights Out (2000) and 500 Degreez (2002), sold modestly compared to his debut. In a career-changing move, Wayne took a break from creating a traditional style album and released his first collection from his underground mixtapes, Da Drought (2003). His mixtape tracks usually feature beats borrowed from other artists, featuring new lyrics he created.
In 2004, he released Tha Carter, a hugely popular album that helped cement his reputation as one of rap's leading performers. The single, "Go D.J." did well on the rap, hip-hop, and pop charts. Rolling Stone critic Christian Hoard said "Wayne's syrupy drawl sounds more dextrous than ever" on the album.
Quickly following up this latest wave of success, Wayne released Tha Carter, Vol. 2 in December 2004. The album debuted at the number two spot on the Billboard pop charts and brought more critical praise for Wayne. A cameo appearance on the Destiny's Child smash hit "Soldier" only further enhanced Wayne's popularity.
For the next few years, he produced several popular mixtape recordings, including the critically adored Dedication, Vol. 2 (2006), which he made with DJ Drama. That same year, Wayne teamed up with Cash Money mentor Bryan William—also known as "Baby" and "Birdman"—for the album Like Father, Like Son (2006), which spawned the hit "Stuntin' Like My Daddy."
In response to several unreleased tracks being made public over the Internet, Wayne released download-only EP The Leak in 2007. The songs came from his work on his anxiously anticipated next studio album, which was finally released in 2008. Tha Carter III (2008) hit the top of the rap, hip-hop, and pop charts, selling more than 1 million copies in its first week of release.