VH1 Behind The Music: Lil Wayne
By the time he was 11 years old, Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., aka Lil Wayne, had lost his virginity, dealt drugs, snorted cocaine and nearly shot himself to death after accidentally pulling the trigger on a gun he found in his mother’s bedroom.
That was life in the dangerous, poverty stricken neighborhood on New Orleans 17th ward, where Lil Wayne grew up. A musical prodigy, hip hop was Wayne’s ticket to a better life.
As a nine year-old, he began recording rhymes with his surrogate family and mentors, Baby and Slim Williams, who owned the fledging label Cash Money Records. Together, they shared in Wayne’s success, first as a teenage sensation with the Hot Boys, then as a solo artist. But Wayne’s path to stardom was littered with personal challenges.
The violence of New Orleans struck again as his stepfather was gunned down when Wayne was just 14. To support his mother he dropped out of high school and put everything he had into jumpstarting his music career.
A year later at 15, Wayne became a father and now had a family to support. Then just as his solo career was taking flight, his hometown was decimated by Hurricane Katrina, a tragedy that profoundly affected Wayne.
Rumors of an addiction to prescription cough syrup and an arrest in New York City for gun possession only fueled the controversy surrounding the outlaw rapper. Regarded as a renegade, Wayne then released a prolific and game changing record, Tha Carter III.
Almost instantly, Lil Wayne rocketed to superstardom and became the pop icon of 2008. The self proclaimed “greatest rapper alive” received the ultimate validation when Wayne walked away with four Grammy Awards, completing a remarkable journey for the 27 year-old.
Catch VH1 Behind The Music: Lil Wayne to learn more, on September 10th at 9pm EST/PST.