The New Orleans MC and self-proclaimed studio hound professes, "Different is needed."
Getting an audience with Lil Wayne is tricky. Interviews are pushed back, postponed at the last minute, and often just canceled. But it’s not late-night partying keeping Weezy occupied: Dude is working. His latest album, Tha Carter III (Cash Money/Universal), caps off an astonishingly productive two years for the 25-year-old New Orleans MC (born Dwayne Carter), which has seen him churn out rhyme after rhyme for mix tapes, other artists’ songs, or just to give away online. When we finally catch up with him in Atlanta, he holds up a CD-R. “I’ve done 18 songs in the past two days,” he says. “I’m in the studio every night.”
Don’t you have any other hobbies?
I haven’t found nothing that excites me more. Pussy, no. Money don’t even do it for me. I hate strip clubs, so that’s not what I’m going to do. If I ain’t onstage, I’m in the studio. I’m only going out when you pay me. I don’t see nothing more exciting than doing a new song.
Between your own stuff and guest spots, you’ve put out a ridiculous amount of music recently. Don’t you worry people will get sick of you?
No, because I’m not calling these [artists], saying, “Can I get on your song?” They call me. I just don’t know how to say no. But there’s this perception that you’ll jump on anyone’s track as long as they pay you.
Do you feel that the fact you can’t say no could be a problem?
I can feel any way I want to about it — there’s a person in charge of me now who makes the decisions.
So you’ve hired people to say no for you.
Yeah, basically. My boss. [Points at his manager] The artists know how it goes: They see me and ask me, and I’m like, “Yeah, send me the song.” I’ll do it that night, send it back, then they’re like, “We couldn’t get that [sample] cleared.” I’ll be like, “I don’t do that part of it.”
With all your success, you still haven’t had a massive crossover single. Does that bother you?
I ain’t worried about that. It’s all about being heard, it ain’t about being bought. I do what I do. I would be the dumbest nigga in the world to try to do what anyone else is doing. Have you heard anyone that sounds like me? No. I’m like Prince: You can’t understand me, but I’m great.
Some of your recent material is pretty out-there — “I Feel Like Dying” is almost psychedelic. Do you worry about alienating your old fans?
I initially think that, but shit, I feel like if you ain’t paying attention to me, you’re not doing wise things. You listen to Lil Wayne, and you’re doing something. Different is great. Different is needed.
There was a big uproar when that picture of you and Cash Money CEO and rapper Birdman kissing hit the Internet last year. Why is hip-hop so obsessed with homosexuality?
I wouldn’t give a fuck about what people saying. Man, Reverend Run, every fucking show, kisses his oldest son. Where they fag rumors at? I guess that’s because it’s his real son. But just because Birdman never laid down with my mama — that’s my real pop.
In the position you’re in, a lot of rappers take shots at you. How do you decide whether to respond?
I never responded to no one. Never dissed no one in my life.
What about [ex-Cash Money associate] Gillie Da Kid?
I never said nothing about no Gillie.
What about “Shirt softer than Gillie” on “I Can’t Feel My Face”?
Oh, right. That’s one line I put in there. It’s just real quick. I ain’t gonna run from you, but you ain’t gonna get no whole song. I got too much going on. I would never spend a whole song degrading somebody else.
On “Beat Without Bass,” you took a little shot at Jay-Z for being too old to rap ["You old-ass rappers better stay on tour / You like 44"]. Do you still want to be rhyming when you’re his age?
Hell, no. When I’m 30 or 35, I don’t want to be into this shit no more. I want to own a basketball team or some kind of team.
You really think you could give up rapping? You said yourself that you’re in the studio every night.
That’s why I’m in the studio every night! Now, I’m 25. You think I’m gonna be doing this shit ten years from now? Or even five? That’s my drive. Imagine when I’m gone, y’all are going to be finding more shit. I’m alive. I’m here. I ain’t finished.