Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr. was born on September 27, 1982, and grew up in the Hollygrove neighborhood of New Orleans, Louisiana. His mother, a cook, gave birth to him when she was 19 years old. His parents divorced when he was 2, and his father permanently abandoned the family. Although Wayne and Birdman have a father–son relationship and Birdman calls Carter his son, Wayne's biological father and namesake (Dwayne Carter) is still alive. Lil Wayne has also spoken about his deceased stepfather, Rabbit, who he has said he considers his real father. Carter has a tattoo dedicated to Rabbit, who was murdered before Carter became a star. Carter enrolled in the gifted program of Lafayette Elementary School and in the drama club of Eleanor McMain Secondary School. Wayne attended McMain in the early 1990s for two years. He moved to the Marion Abramson Senior High School.
In a CBS interview with Katie Couric, Wayne described why he goes by the name of "Wayne" instead of his given name, Dwayne. Carter explained, "I dropped the D because I'm a junior and my father is living and he's not in my life and he's never been in my life. So I don't want to be Dwayne, I'd rather be Wayne". Couric asked Wayne if his father knew of this and Wayne replied with a smile, "He knows now."
He wrote his first rap song at age eight. In the summer of 1991, he met Bryan Williams, rapper and owner of Cash Money Records. Carter recorded freestyle raps on Williams's answering machine, leading him to mentor the young Carter and include him in Cash Money-distributed songs. He also recorded his first ever collaboration album True Story with rapper B.G.. At the time, Carter was 11, and B.G. was 14, and was billed as "The B.G.'z". When he was 12, he played the part of the Tin Man in his middle school drama club's production of The Wiz. At age 12, he accidentally shot himself with a 9 mm handgun, and off-duty police officer Robert Hoobler drove him to the hospital. At McMain Magnet School, Carter was an honors student, but he dropped out at the age of 14 to focus on a musical career.
In 1996, Carter joined the Hot Boys along with rappers Juvenile, B.G., and Turk. At age 15, Carter was the youngest member at the time. Hot Boys' debut album Get It How U Live! was released the same year, followed in 1999 by the group's major-label debut Guerrilla Warfare, which reached No. 1 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and No. 5 on the Billboard 200. During their career, the Hot Boys had two charting singles, "We on Fire" from Get It How U Live! and "I Need a Hot Girl" from Guerrilla Warfare. Carter was also featured on Juvenile's single "Back That Azz Up", which reached No. 18 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 5 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks. Let 'Em Burn, a compilation album of unreleased tracks recorded during 1999 and 2000, came out in 2003, several years after the group disbanded. It reached No. 3 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and No. 14 on the Billboard 200.
Carter's debut solo album Tha Block Is Hot was released when he was 17 and featured significant contributions from the Hot Boys. It debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and was later certified platinum by the RIAA. The album earned Carter a 1999 Source magazine nomination for "Best New Artist", and also became a Top Ten hit. The lead single was "Tha Block Is Hot". After the release of Tha Block is Hot, Carter was featured on the single "Bling Bling", with B.G., Juvenile, and Big Tymers. His verse appeared only on the radio version of the song, while on the album version he performed on the chorus.
His 2000 follow-up album Lights Out failed to attain the level of success achieved by his debut but was certified gold by RIAA. Critics noted the lack of coherent narratives in his verses as evidence that he had yet to mature to the level of his fellow Hot Boys. The lead single was "Get Off the Corner", which was noticed for an improvement in its lyrical content and style. The second single, which received less attention, was "Shine" featuring the Hot Boys. Near the release of Lights Out, Lil Wayne was featured on the single, "Number One Stunna" with Big Tymers and Juvenile, which peaked at No. 24 on the Hot Rap Tracks chart.
Lil Wayne's third album 500 Degreez, released in 2002, followed the format of his previous two, with significant contributions from the Hot Boys and Mannie Fresh. While being certified gold like its predecessor, it also failed to match the success of his debut. The title was a reference to the recently estranged Hot Boys member Juvenile's recording, 400 Degreez. The lead single was "Way of Life" which failed to match the success of his previous singles. After the release of 500 Degreez, Wayne was featured on the single "Neva Get Enuf" by 3LW.
In the summer of 2004, Wayne's album Tha Carter was released, marking what critics considered advancement in his rapping style and lyrical themes. In addition, the album's cover art featured the debut of Wayne's now-signature dreadlocks. Tha Carter gained Wayne significant recognition, selling 878,000 copies in the United States, while the single "Go DJ" became a Top 5 Hit on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart. After the release of Tha Carter, Lil Wayne was featured in Destiny's Child's single "Soldier" with T.I., which peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts.
Tha Carter II, the follow-up to the original Tha Carter album, was released in December 2005, this time without production by longtime Cash Money Records producer Mannie Fresh, who had since left the label. Tha Carter II sold more than 238,000 copies in its first week of release, debuting at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, and went on to sell 2,000,000 copies worldwide. The lead single "Fireman" became a hit in the US, peaking at 32 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Other singles included "Grown Man" with Currensy, "Hustler Musik", and "Shooter" with R&B singer Robin Thicke. Lil Wayne also appeared on a remix of Bobby Valentino's "Tell Me", which rose to No. 13 on the U.S. R&B Charts. In 2005, Lil Wayne was named president of Cash Money, and in the same year he founded Young Money Entertainment as an imprint of Cash Money. However, as of late 2007, Lil Wayne reported that he has stepped down from the management of both labels and has handed management of Young Money over to Cortez Bryant.
In 2006, Lil Wayne collaborated with rapper Birdman for the album Like Father, Like Son, whose first single "Stuntin' Like My Daddy", reached No. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Instead of a follow-up solo album, Lil Wayne reached his audience through a plethora of mixtapes and guest appearances on a variety of pop and hip-hop singles. Of his many mixtapes, Dedication 2 and Da Drought 3 received the most media exposure and critical review. Dedication 2, released in 2006, paired Lil Wayne with DJ Drama and contained the acclaimed socially conscious track "Georgia Bush", in which Lil Wayne critiqued former US president George W. Bush's response to the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the city of New Orleans. Da Drought 3 was released the following year and was available for free legal download. It contained Lil Wayne rapping over a variety of beats from recent hits by other musicians. A number of prominent hip-hop magazines such as XXL and Vibe covered the mixtape. Christian Hoard of Rolling Stone magazine considered the mixtapes Da Drought 3 and The Drought Is Over 2 (The Carter 3 Sessions) "among the best albums of 2007."
Despite no album release for two years, Lil Wayne appeared in numerous singles as a featured performer, including "Gimme That" by Chris Brown, "Make It Rain" by Fat Joe, "You" by Lloyd, and "We Takin' Over" by DJ Khaled (also featuring Akon, T.I., Rick Ross, Fat Joe, and Birdman), "Duffle Bag Boy" by Playaz Circle, "Sweetest Girl (Dollar Bill)" by Wyclef Jean (also featuring Akon), and the remix to "I'm So Hood" by DJ Khaled (also featuring T-Pain, Young Jeezy, Ludacris, Busta Rhymes, Big Boi, Fat Joe, Birdman, and Rick Ross). All these singles charted within the top 20 spots on the Billboard Hot 100, Hot Rap Tracks, and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts. On Birdman's 2007 album 5 * Stunna, Lil Wayne appeared on the singles "100 Million" and "I Run This" among several other tracks. Wayne also appeared on tracks from albums Getback by Little Brother, American Gangster by Jay-Z, and Graduation by Kanye West and Insomniac by Enrique Iglesias. "Make it Rain", a Scott Storch production that peaked at number 13 on the Hot 100 and number two on the Hot Rap Tracks chart, was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for 2008.
Vibe magazine ranked a list of 77 of Lil Wayne's songs from 2007 and ranked his verse in DJ Khaled's "We Takin Over" as his best of 2007, with "Dough Is What I Got" (a freestyle over the beat of Jay-Z's "Show Me What You Got") from Da Drought 3 the second song. At the end of 2007, an MTV poll selected Lil Wayne as "Hottest MC in the Game", The New Yorker magazine ranked him "Rapper of the Year", and GQ magazine named him "Workaholic of the Year". In 2008 he was named "Best MC" by Rolling Stone. Another article, built around Lil Wayne's 2007 mixtape work, cites his creative practice as an example of post performance creative practice.
In 2007, Lil Wayne stated that he would reunite with Hot Boys, with plans to release an album after B.G.'s solo album Too Hood to Be Hollywood was completed. Tha Carter III was originally scheduled to be released in 2007, though it was delayed after several recordings were leaked and distributed through mixtapes, including "The Drought Is Over Pt. 2" and "The Drought Is Over Pt. 4". Lil Wayne initially planned to release The Leak, a separate album with leaked songs and four additional tracks, on December 18, 2007, with Tha Carter III delayed to March 18, 2008. Instead, The Leak became an EP with five songs and was released digitally on December 25, 2007.
Tha Carter III was released on June 10, 2008, with first-week sales of over 1 million copies, the first to do so since 50 Cent's The Massacre (2005). The first single "Lollipop", featuring Static Major, became the rapper's most successful song at the time, topping the Billboard Hot 100 and becoming his first top 10 single as a solo artist and his first number one on the chart. The third single "Got Money", featuring T-Pain, peaked at number 13 on the Billboard 100. The album went on to win four Grammy Awards, including best rap album and best rap song, which he won for "Lollipop". On July 14, 2008, the Recording Industry Association of America certified Tha Carter III two times platinum. In October 2008, Lil Wayne announced plans to MTV News to re-release the album with new tracks, including a duet with Ludacris and remixes of "A Milli".
Lil Wayne also appeared on R&B singles "Girls Around the World" by Lloyd, "Love In This Club, Part II" by Usher, "Official Girl" by Cassie, "I'm So Paid" by Akon, "Turnin' Me On" by Keri Hilson, and "Can't Believe It" by T-Pain; rap singles "My Life" by The Game, "Shawty Say" by David Banner, "Swagga Like Us" by T.I., "Cutty Buddy" by Mike Jones, All My Life (In the Ghetto) by Jay Rock and the remix to "Certified" by Glasses Malone; and pop single "Let It Rock" by new Cash Money artist Kevin Rudolf.
In 2008, Lil Wayne performed at the Voodoo Experience in October in New Orleans, which was described by Jonathan Cohen of Billboard as his biggest hometown headlining set of his career. He also performed at the Virgin Mobile Music Fest with Kanye West, where they performed the remix of "Lollipop" and lip-synced to Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You". Lil Wayne also performed at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards with Kid Rock ("All Summer Long"), Leona Lewis ("DontGetIt (Misunderstood)") and T-Pain ("Got Money") and performed "Lollipop" and "Got Money" on the season premiere of Saturday Night Live. He later performed at the homecoming rally at Vanderbilt University and the 2008 BET Hip Hop Awards, where he received 12 nominations. He won eight awards at the BET Hip Hop Awards, one of which included the "MVP" title. After M.I.A. dropped out of performing on the I Am Music Tour due to her pregnancy, Jay-Z performed "Mr. Carter" with Lil Wayne at select shows.
Following Tha Carter III's achievement of selling over 3 million copies, becoming 2008's best-selling record, Wayne re-signed with Cash Money Records for a multi-album deal. On November 11, 2008, Wayne became the first hip-hop act to perform at the Country Music Association Awards, playing "All Summer Long" alongside Kid Rock, in which Wayne inaudibly strummed guitar strings alongside the guitarist in Kid Rock's band. Shortly after, Wayne was nominated for eight Grammys – the most for any artist nominated that year. He was then named the first MTV Man of the Year at the end of 2008. He won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance for "A Milli", Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for his appearance in T.I.'s single "Swagga Like Us", and Best Rap Song for "Lollipop". Tha Carter III won the award for Best Rap Album. MTV News listed Lil Wayne number two on their 2009 list of the Hottest MCs In The Game.
On January 6, 2009, Lil Wayne was a guest debater against Skip Bayless on the "1st & 10" segment of ESPN First Take. On February 10, 2009, he appeared on ESPN's Around the Horn and beat out veterans Woody Paige, Jay Mariotti and fellow New Orleanian Michael Smith to win that show's episode. Prior to the 2009 Grammy Awards, Wayne was featured in an interview with Katie Couric. On February 7, 2009, he presented the Top Ten List on CBS's Late Show with David Letterman. On April 24, 2009, he appeared on The View, discussing his GED and addictions. In September 2009, Wayne was profiled in an episode of VH1's Behind the Music and was a presenter of the 2009 MTV Movie Awards. In film, Wayne produced and composed music for and starred in the direct-to-video film Hurricane Season. A documentary of Lil Wayne titled The Carter was released at the Sundance Film Festival.
On December 23, 2009, Wayne released a collaboration album with Young Money, We Are Young Money, with its lead single being "Every Girl". The second single was "BedRock", featuring Lloyd, with the third being "Roger That". On May 24, 2010, the album was certified gold by the RIAA with over 500,000 copies sold. Wayne is featured on the song, "Revolver", with Madonna for her greatest hits album, Celebration (2009). He was also featured on a Weezer song, "Can't Stop Partying", on Raditude (2009). In late 2008, Wayne announced plans to reissue Tha Carter III with leftover recordings, and was to be titled Rebirth. Originally scheduled to be released on April 7, 2009 before being delayed several times, Rebirth instead became his sixth solo album, released on April 7, 2009.
To support its release and that of We Are Young Money, he was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone and headlined the 'Young Money Presents: America's Most Wanted Music Festival', a United States and Canada–only concert tour which began on July 29, 2009. "Prom Queen", the first official single, debuted on January 27, 2009 immediately after a live Internet broadcast on Ustream of his concert in San Diego. It peaked at number 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. On December 3, 2009, the second single, "On Fire", produced by Cool & Dre "On Fire" peaked at number 33 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. "Drop the World", which features Eminem, was the third single from the album.
In an interview on MTV's Mixtape Monday, Wayne asserted the possibility of Tha Carter IV, later announcing that it would be released in late 2009 before the holiday season. Birdman had previously stated that Tha Carter IV would be packaged with Rebirth as a double disc album. However, Wayne denied this idea saying that "Tha Carter IV deserves Tha Carter IV", adding that We Are Young Money may be packaged with Rebirth. However, both albums were released separately.
Originally thought to be an EP, Lil Wayne released his tenth album, I Am Not a Human Being, on his 28th birthday, September 27, 2010. The album has sold over 953,000 copies in the U.S. and has spawned successful single "Right Above It", which peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100. Tha Carter IV was later delayed into 2011, after Lil Wayne began recording from scratch after his release from prison. He described his first song since his release as "a 2010 version of A Milli on steroids." The album's lead single, "6 Foot 7 Foot" featuring Cory Gunz, was released on December 15, 2010 and made available for digital download on iTunes on December 16, 2010. The song is produced by Bangladesh, who also produced "A Milli".
On March 8, 2011, Lil Wayne released another song, "We Back Soon", produced by StreetRunner, though it was not included on the official track listing of Tha Carter IV. The second single, "John", was released on March 24, 2011, which features Rick Ross and is produced by Polow Da Don. The album's artwork was unveiled on April 20, 2011. The album was originally scheduled to be released on May 16, 2011, but Mack Maine had confirmed its delay to June 21. On May 26, 2011, the third single, "How to Love", was released. A song called "Dear Anne (Stan Part 2)" was released in June. Lil Wayne said the song was a throwaway track from Tha Carter III and was originally supposed to be on Tha Carter IV, but decided not to put it on there because of its age. Lil Wayne said that he liked the beat, but not the lyrics, and was thinking about revamping the song.
In July 2011, Lil Wayne confirmed in an interview with MTV that Tha Carter IV was finished, and was released on August 29, 2011. For preparation for Tha Carter IV, Lil Wayne released a mixtape, Sorry 4 the Wait, with all the beats coming from other artist's songs, similar to his "No Ceilings" mixtape. Tha Carter IV debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, with first-week sales of 964,000 copies, making it Lil Wayne's third chart topping album of his career. On January 8, 2012, According to Nielsen SoundScan was elected the seventh artist (second male artist) all-time best-selling tracks digital with 36,788,000 million to the end of 2011. In October 2011, it was reported that Lil Wayne was working on sequels to I Am Not a Human Being and Rebirth. In January 2012, Birdman announced that he and Wayne had finished recording Like Father, Like Son 2. On November 22, 2012, he announced that Tha Carter V would be his final album.
After numerous delays, I Am Not a Human Being II was released on March 26, 2013 debuting at #2 on the Billboard 200 selling 217,000 copies in its first week; "My Homies Still", "Love Me", and "No Worries" were released as singles prior to its release. The album was met with generally mixed reviews, with most critics noticing the declining quality of his releases. Lil Wayne toured North America with 2 Chainz and T.I. on the second America's Most Wanted Festival. On May 3, 2013, Pepsi dropped Lil Wayne, who was a spokesperson for Mountain Dew, due to offensive lyrics about civil-rights icon Emmett Till. On September 1, 2013, Lil Wayne released the fifth instalment of the "Dedication" mixtape series, with Dedication 5. The mixtape featured 29 tracks, with guest appearances from The Weeknd, Chance The Rapper, Jae Millz, Birdman, T.I., Vado, Kidd Kidd, and 2 Chainz among other members of Young Money.
On February 10, 2014, Lil Wayne's Young Money signee Drake, tweeted "CARTER V". On October 18, 2013, Cash Money Records Vice President of Promotion Mel Smith, tweeted: "Happy Friday!! New YMCMB music coming soon!! Carter 5." Nearly four months later, in an interview with The Griffin, released on February 14, 2014, Smith spoke on the upcoming album: "We're very close to dropping the album. It's going to be a huge surprise to everyone, it's an incredible album … I can't release the date because he wants to surprise people, he wants his true fan base to get excited but he's worked extremely hard on it and you won't be disappointed." On February 15, 2014, during the NBA All-Star Weekend festivities at Sprite's NBA All-Star concert at the House of Blues in New Orleans, Lil Wayne appeared as a special guest during Drake's set and performed various hits. Wayne and Drake then broke the news that Tha Carter V is set to be released on May 5, 2014. However, on March 27, 2014, Wayne's manager Cortez Bryant, would announce the album had been delayed. Wayne then serviced Tha Carter V's first single "Believe Me", which features vocals from Drake, to mainstream urban radio in the United States on May 6, 2014. Three more singles, "Krazy", "Grindin'" (featuring Drake) and "Start a Fire" (featuring Christina Milian), were also released for the album.
On December 4, 2014, just five days before the album was due to be released again, Wayne issued a statement saying the album would not be released on its expected release date, due to his displeasure with Cash Money Records label-boss Birdman, refusing to release the album although it had been completed. Wayne also expressed his feelings by stating he felt both he and his creativity were being held "prisoner".
On January 20, 2015, Wayne self-released Sorry 4 the Wait 2, a sequel to his 2011 mixtape, to compensate for the continued delay of Tha Carter V. Upon Sorry for the Wait 2's release, it was noted Wayne disses Birdman and Cash Money Records, several times throughout the mixtape. Birdman was reported to be upset with this. In late January 2015, Lil Wayne sued Birdman and Cash Money Records for $51 million. In February 2015, due to Tha Carter V's delay, Wayne announced a Free Weezy Album, would be released prior to the fifth installment in his popular series. In June 2015, Wayne joined Jay-Z's TIDAL, as an artist owner, kicking off the partnership by exclusively releasing a single on the service titled "Glory." He's also announced plans on his own TIDAL X concert series. On July 4, 2015, Wayne released Free Weezy Album, exclusively through TIDAL, under Young Money and Republic Records.
Lil Wayne and Birdman have supposedly accorded after being seen at Drake's NYE Party, at Miami's Club Liv, and in studio. On January 27, 2016 when rapper 2 Chainz released his "Felt Like Cappin" EP Lil Wayne is featured on the lead single titled "Back On That Bullshit". On March 4, 2016, 2 Chainz released his third studio album, ColleGrove. The album was initially a collaborative effort between 2 Chainz and Lil Wayne, but due to his record label issues, only Chainz was credited as the primary artist. In 2017, Lil Wayne announced that he has signed with Roc Nation. Later, Lil Wayne revealed that there was no official paperwork that he signed to the label. On August 8, 2017, he released the song "Like a Man" with sound engineer Onhel.
Lil Wayne has announced several possible upcoming projects, including a collaborative album entitled I Can't Feel My Face with Harlem-based rapper Juelz Santana, that has been in production for several years. On June 19, 2008, Lil Wayne and T-Pain formed a duo called T-Wayne with plans to release an album, titled He Raps, He Sings; however, those plans have died down due to much of the material recorded for the album being leaked. According to an interview with Drake, in the December 2011 issue of XXL, plans for an upcoming album with Lil Wayne had been scrapped for the time being because of the Jay-Z and Kanye West collaboration Watch the Throne (2011).
In late 2011, it was announced by Mack Maine, that Lil Wayne and Juelz Santana have gone back to working on their collaborative album I Can't Feel My Face, which had been delayed for a few years due to "label politics". In April 2012, on the premiere of MTV's Hip Hop POV, Wayne sat down with Amanda Seales and spoke briefly about an album he put together titled Devol (loved, backwards), an album full of "love songs" that he wrote during his imprisonment at Rikers Island. In May 2013 he has confirmed the album will still be released.
Lil Wayne's ongoing litigation with Cash Money has prevented numerous completed projects from seeing light of day, in November 2016 it was revealed the next project he's releasing is titled "Funeral".
On March 29, 2011, in an interview with Hot 97's Angie Martinez, Lil Wayne announced that he would retire at age 35; saying "I have four kids", and that "I would feel selfish still going to the studio when it's such a vital point in their lives." He said in November 2012 that Tha Carter V will be his last album as he wanted to go into other interests.
In March 2014, Lil Wayne reconfirmed at SXSW that Tha Carter V will be his last album during his keynote with interviewer Elliot Wilson.
In September 2016, in regards to his contract dispute with Cash Money, he indicated a possible retirement on Twitter saying ""I AM NOW DEFENSELESS and mentally DEFEATED" and then said "I leave gracefully and thankful I luh my fanz but I'm done." Many rappers responded with respect and encouragement. He has since refuted the claim.
He wrote a memoir of his experience in Rikers Island called Gone Til' November: A Journal of Rikers Island that was released October 11, 2016.
On February 19, 2008, Lil Wayne and Cortez Bryant revisited their alma mater McMain Secondary School to get students to design an invitation to the gala introducing Lil Wayne's nonprofit One Family Foundation.
Lil Wayne has four children. His first child, daughter Reginae, was born when he was 16, to his high school sweetheart Antonia "Toya" Carter (née Johnson). They married on Valentine's Day 2004 and divorced in 2006. Internet rumors started circulating in August 2008 that Wayne's daughter had died in a car crash, which however he quickly cleared up as false saying "Please allow me to dispel any rumors or speculations and report that my daughter is alive, healthy and surrounded by family who care and love her dearly. The rumors are completely false and unfounded; neither Reginae nor any other member of my family has been involved in any car accident."
His second child, Dwayne III, was born on October 22, 2008, at The Christ Hospital in Cincinnati to radio broadcaster Sarah Vivan. His third child, Cameron Carter, was born to actress Lauren London on September 9, 2009. His fourth child, Neal, was born on November 30, 2009, to singer Nivea. He also got rapper Trina pregnant but she suffered a miscarriage.
In July 2014, it was rumored he was dating singer Christina Milian whom he attended the ESPY Awards with. They later confirmed their relationship in mid-2015 after which they received criticism from their interconnected exes, singer Nivea and songwriter The-Dream. They split at the end of 2015 after collaborating on various singles, videos, and concert dates.
In an interview with Blender magazine, Lil Wayne revealed one of his favorite bands from childhood to be rock group Nirvana, and cites them as a major influence in his music.
Wayne got his first tattoo at age 14 of his dad's name and his second was "Cash Money" across his stomach. His tattoos have grown to include a Jay-Z verse on his leg, "I Am Music" on his forehead and teardrops on his cheeks among many others. His most recent one is "Baked" on his forehead stylized as the Baker Skateboards logo.
Lil Wayne identifies as a Roman Catholic and reads the Bible regularly. While playing in Newark Symphony Hall, Lil Wayne professed his belief "in God and His son, Jesus." During his 2011 tour in Australia with Eminem, before beginning his bracket he proclaimed his belief in God.
After earning his GED, Wayne enrolled at the University of Houston in January 2005. He dropped out in the same year due to his conflicting schedule. He also revealed on The View that he switched to the University of Phoenix and majored in psychology taking online courses. An article in Urb magazine in March 2007 asserted that Wayne had been earning high grades at Houston.
On September 24, 2008, Lil Wayne published his first blog for ESPN in their issue, ESPN The Magazine. Wayne revealed he was a fan of tennis, the Green Bay Packers, the Boston Bruins, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Boston Red Sox. To commemorate the Packers' making it to Super Bowl XLV, he spoofed Wiz Khalifa's hit song "Black and Yellow" (which were the colors of the Packers' opponents, the Pittsburgh Steelers) in a song titled "Green and Yellow". Wayne has continued writing for ESPN, notably reporting at the ESPN Super Bowl party. Lil Wayne made his debut on ESPN's daily sports round table show Around The Horn on February 10, 2009. Lil Wayne now currently sings the intro song "No Mercy" for the Fox Sports 1 sports debate show Undisputed.
Wayne received criticism after a video released by TMZ showed him apparently stepping on the American flag. Wayne later explained that "It was never my intention to desecrate the flag of the United States", and that he was shooting a video for a song on his upcoming album, "God Bless Amerika." He claims the purpose of the flag was to "show that 'behind the American Flag was the Hoods of America'."
In late 2016, Wayne made statements critical of the Black Lives Matter movement, saying "I don’t feel connected to a damn thing that ain’t got nothin’ to do with me. If you do, you crazy as shit", and adding that his status as a rich African American with white fans is evidence that black people are valued in modern America.
On October 25, 2012, Lil Wayne's private jet, bound for Los Angeles, made an emergency landing in Texas due to an in-flight medical episode. Lil Wayne was transferred to a local hospital upon arrival. TMZ and other media sources claimed that Lil Wayne had suffered a seizure aboard the plane. His publicist denied this, claiming that he was in fact treated for "a severe migraine and dehydration."
The following day, while flying from Texas to Los Angeles, Lil Wayne's private jet was reportedly again forced to make an emergency landing, this time in Louisiana, after Lil Wayne suffered a second seizure and required further hospitalization. His representative claimed that the reports of Lil Wayne's condition had been exaggerated, and that he was resting at his Louisiana home. In a November 2012 interview with MTV, Lil Wayne revealed that he was taking seizure medication, on doctors' orders, due to the aforementioned incidents.
On March 14, 2013, TMZ reported that Lil Wayne had been treated at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on the evening of March 12, after suffering seizures while on a music video set with Young Money rapper Nicki Minaj. He was reportedly released in the early hours of March 13. On March 15, TMZ published a second story, claiming that hours after his release on March 13, Lil Wayne was found unconscious after experiencing further seizures, and was brought back to Cedars-Sinai, where he was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit in critical condition. The article alleged the latest seizures were found to be linked to high amounts of codeine in Lil Wayne's system, possibly due to binging on purple drank after his initial hospital release. Multiple celebrities, including Drake and Birdman, were photographed on March 15 and 16 visiting Lil Wayne at Cedars-Sinai.
Several members of Young Money Entertainment, including president Mack Maine, criticized media reports on Lil Wayne's hospitalization, particularly those of TMZ, alleging that they exaggerated the severity of his condition and falsely implied that he was on his deathbed (such as by claiming that he was in a medically induced coma), triggering what the Washington Post called "the most overheated celebrity deathwatch in recent years." In separate interviews on March 18, Mack Maine and Birdman disputed TMZ's reports, and stated that in fact there were not multiple seizures or multiple hospital visits. They explained that after Lil Wayne began seizing on the way to the music video shoot on March 12, an ambulance was called and he was transported to the hospital, where he was admitted and remained continuously thereafter. They also refuted the claims that Lil Wayne's seizures are drug-induced, noting that they are an ongoing problem for which doctors have been unable to identify a cause.
Lil Wayne was released from the hospital late on March 18, following a six-day stay. Lil Wayne addressed his condition via a vlog, on March 21 saying he was more than good. In a March 28 interview with DJ Felli Fel of Power 106 in Los Angeles, Wayne said that he suffers from epilepsy, a neurological condition which is noted by seizures. He would say "This isn't my first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth or seventh seizure. I've had a bunch of seizures. Y'all just never hear about them. But this time, it got real bad because I had three of them in a row."
He had two seizures in June 2016, during a cross-country flight from Wisconsin to California, and landed in Omaha, Nebraska. His plane was only two minutes in air when the second seizure occurred and was forced to land in Omaha once again. Less than a month later, he had another seizure, supposedly due to not taking his epilepsy medication.
Lil Wayne cancelled a Las Vegas show on September 3, 2017, having had a seizure in a Chicago hospital earlier that day, where he was brought after being found unconscious in a hotel room.
Lil Wayne has been referenced in public speeches by President Barack Obama on at least two occasions, in mixed contexts. Speaking to a largely African-American audience during a general election campaign town hall speech in Georgia, then-U.S. Senator Obama exhorted children to stay in school and achieve their dreams through education and perseverance instead of hoping for shortcuts to fame and riches as professional athletes and entertainers via the fields of sports and entertainment, stating: "You are probably not that good a rapper. Maybe you are the next Lil Wayne, but probably not, in which case you need to stay in school."
After assuming the Presidency, Obama later echoed this theme of personal and familial responsibility and the difficulty of achieving Lil Wayne's professional and financial success—during an address to a meeting commemorating the 100th anniversary of the NAACP, telling the audience:
They might think they've got a pretty jump shot or a pretty good flow, but our kids can't all aspire to be LeBron or Lil Wayne. I want them aspiring to be scientists and engineers, doctors and teachers, not just ballers and rappers. I want them aspiring to be a Supreme Court justice. I want them aspiring to be President of the United States of America.
Obama has also noted that the music on his iPod includes Lil Wayne:
My rap palate has greatly improved. Jay-Z used to be sort of what predominated, but now I've got a little Nas and a little Lil Wayne and some other stuff.
On July 22, 2007, Lil Wayne was arrested in New York City following a performance at the Beacon Theatre; the New York City Police Department discovered Lil Wayne and another man smoking marijuana near a tour bus. After taking Lil Wayne into custody, police discovered a .40 caliber pistol near his person. The gun, which was registered to his manager, was in a bag located near the rapper. He was charged with criminal possession of a weapon and marijuana.
On October 22, 2009, Lil Wayne pleaded guilty to attempted criminal possession of a weapon. He was due for sentencing in February 2010 and was expected to receive a one-year county jail sentence, but on February 9, 2010, Lil Wayne's attorney announced that the sentencing was delayed until March 2 due to dental surgery, which was performed on February 16. The surgery included eight root canals, the replacement of several tooth implants, as well as the addition of a few new implants and work on his remaining original teeth. On March 2, 2010, sentencing was postponed again when the courthouse reported a fire in the basement.
On March 8, 2010, Lil Wayne was given a one-year sentence, which he served in Rikers Island. His lawyer said the rapper expected to be held in protective custody, separated from other prisoners. In May 2010, Wayne was found by Rikers Island correctional staff to be in possession of contraband (an MP3 player, charger, and headphones). In April 2010, Lil Wayne's friends created a website called Weezy Thanx You, which publishes letters written by Wayne while incarcerated. In the first letter, titled "Gone 'til November", the rapper described his daily routine, saying he works out a lot, and reads the Bible every day. Wayne was released from Rikers Island Jail on November 4, 2010 after serving eight months of his year-long sentence.
Following a performance at Qwest Arena in Boise, Idaho, Lil Wayne was arrested October 5, 2007 on felony fugitive charges after Georgia authorities accused the rapper of possessing a controlled substance. The incident was later described as a "mix-up" and the fugitive charges were dropped.
On January 23, 2008, Lil Wayne was arrested alongside two others. His tour bus was stopped by Border Patrol agents near Yuma, Arizona. A K-9 Unit recovered 105 grams (3.7 oz) of marijuana, almost 29 grams (1.0 oz) of cocaine, 41 grams (1.4 oz) of ecstasy, and $22,000 in cash. Lil Wayne was charged with four felonies: possession of narcotic drug for sale, possession of dangerous drugs, misconduct involving weapons and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was granted permission to travel outside of the state and remain out of custody on the $10,185 bond he posted.
On May 6, 2008, Wayne returned to court in Arizona to plead not guilty to the charges. A bench warrant was issued on March 17, 2010 when Lil Wayne did not show for a final trial management conference. However, the rapper was already incarcerated, serving a one-year sentence in Rikers Island on weapons charges. On June 22, 2010 Wayne pleaded guilty to the charges. As part of the plea deal he was able to serve 36 months of probation, which he was sentenced to on June 30, 2010.
On December 18, 2009, Wayne and 11 others were detained at the Falfurrias, Texas border patrol checkpoint after an unknown amount of marijuana was found on two of his tour buses.
On July 24, 2008, Abkco Music Inc filed a lawsuit against Lil Wayne for copyright infringement and unfair competition, specifically referring to Tha Carter III's track "Playing with Fire". In the lawsuit, Abkco claims that the song was obviously derived from The Rolling Stones' "Play with Fire", to which Abkco owns the rights. Subsequently, "Playing with Fire" was removed from the track list of Tha Carter III on all online music stores and replaced with the David Banner produced track, "Pussy Monster".
In February 2009, production company RMF Productions filed a $1.3 million lawsuit against Wayne, following a $100,000 advance payment for three shows, all of which were cancelled by the artist.
On October 2009, Lil Wayne, Birdman, Cash Money Records, and various music distribution outlets were sued for copyright infringement by Thomas Marasciullo, who claims his voice was used without permission. The rappers asked him to record some "Italian-styled spoken word recordings" in 2006. The lyrics were allegedly used on "Respect" and other tracks from the rappers' collaboration album Like Father, Like Son and Birdman's 5 * Stunna.
In March 2011, producer Deezle (Darius Harrison) sued Wayne and his parent labels Cash Money Records over unpaid royalties from Tha Carter III.
In May 2011, producer Bangladesh also filed a lawsuit against Weezy & Co. over unpaid royalties as well.
In early June 2011, another producer named David Kirkwood filed a lawsuit against Young Money Entertainment and Cash Money Records on claims that the labels have failed to pay him over $1.5 million in royalties and production services for his work on the album, also including his songwriting on "Love Me or Hate Me", a bonus song featured only on the deluxe edition of the album.
Also in June 2011, Dallas producers Play-N-Skillz filed a lawsuit against him claiming Wayne owes them at least $1 million in unpaid royalties for "Got Money" from his album Tha Carter III. The single has sold over 2 million copies since being released.
In July 2011, Done Deal Enterprises, a production company based in Georgia, filed suit against Wayne, Universal Music Group, Cash Money Records and Young Money Entertainment, claiming copyright infringement. The lawsuit alleges Wayne stole the song "BedRock", featured on the compilation album We Are Young Money, and seeks damages of $15 million.
Young Buck released a song featuring Tony Yayo called "Off Parole" which insulted Lil Wayne. Young Buck said that Lil Wayne could not be angry, because Young Buck spoke the truth. Young Buck also said "You think you got a problem with Juve and B.G.; you'll have a true problem with me", referring to the Cash Money-Juvenile/B.G feud. One of the reasons 50 Cent stated he was dismissing Young Buck was what he called "inconsistent behavior" which included appearing on stage with Lil Wayne, then seemingly dissing him on records with G-Unit. After he was dismissed, Young Buck appeared in the music video "My Life" by The Game, which featured Lil Wayne in the vocals. As of 2009 Buck and Wayne have squashed their beef and also linked up to record a track "Up's and Down's" for Young Buck's Back On My Buck Shit mixtape.
Tension between Wayne and American rapper, Pusha T, had been going on for years, beginning soon after Clipse and Birdman worked on "What Happened to That Boy", the latter's 2002 single. In 2006, Wayne felt the Clipse song "Mr. Me Too" was directed at him which caused more tension between the two. In 2012 after much speculation that Pusha T was subliminally dissing Canadian rapper and Wayne's Young Money signee Drake in several songs, the speculation heightened after the release of Pusha T's "Exodus 23:1" song. Lil Wayne quickly responded on online social networking service Twitter and later released a diss track titled "Goulish". In the first verse Wayne raps "Fuck Pusha T and anybody that love him / His head up his ass, I'mma have to head-butt him". Pusha T has called Wayne's diss track "horrible" and said he felt it didn't deserve a response. Both men have downplayed the feud, with Wayne saying he's over it. However, in late November, Pusha T dissed Wayne and Birdman on a new Ludacris song titled "Tell Me What They Mad For". However, once the feud between Lil Wayne and Birdman arose, Pusha T sent out a tweet encouraging Lil Wayne to sign to G.O.O.D. Music, which also insulted Birdman for his hand-rubbing habit.
In a 2009 interview with Tropical TV, Birdman disputed the MTV poll that voted Jay Z "The Hottest MC in the Game", stating that Lil Wayne was a better rapper and made more money. In early 2011, when Jay Z & Kanye West's single "H•A•M" was released, Jay Z took shots at Birdman, saying "Really, you got Baby money" and "[you] ain't got my lady's money!". On August 24, 2011, a song called "It's Good" by Lil Wayne (featuring Drake and Jadakiss) was leaked online and included Lil Wayne responding "Talkin' 'bout baby money? I gotcha baby money. Kidnap your bitch, get that, How much you love your lady? money". Jadakiss later absolved himself of involvement in any brewing beef on his official Twitter feed.Tha Block Is Hot (1999)
Lights Out (2000)
500 Degreez (2002)
Tha Carter (2004)
Tha Carter II (2005)
Like Father, Like Son (with Birdman) (2006)
Tha Carter III (2008)
I Am Not a Human Being (2010)
Tha Carter IV (2011)
I Am Not a Human Being II (2013)
Free Weezy Album (2015)
Tha Carter V (TBA)