Perfect Sound Forever


The Influence and Dedication of Weezy
by John Cassell
(April 2018)

Do we truly give Tunechi the credit he deserves? Lil Wayne is arguably the most influential artist of our generation. As the Dedication 6 continues to gain momentum in the streets and we soak up D6: Reloaded, Wayne fanatics on Twitter and beyond proceed to quote their favorite lines followed by flame emojis. In celebration of his latest effort, I decided to document six ways that Weezy has impacted today's hip hop culture, for better or worse. Dreadlocks, face tats, tight clothes, bright colors and drug talk. He just might be the first of the "Lil's," the group of young, mumbling, colorful haired entertainers that cause veins to pop out of the heads of traditional hip hop fans like our beloved Joe Budden today. Either way, his swag is undeniable and his imprint on the game is praiseworthy.

1. Made drug talk and lean sipping mainstream

Before any Houston natives accuse me of "talkin' down," I want to be clear that I understand the cups dirty origins. It is well understood that the Texas boys' have been talking about coming down in candy cars sippin' Barre since the 90's. However, deep southern slang about some sort of purple drank offered only a vague understanding to those in the other parts of the country who were unfamiliar. In fact, the most we were ever publicly enlightened on the mysterious beverage through hip hop was when Three Six Mafia teamed up with Houston's own UGK for "Sizzurp," which only teased at an explanation and reinforced that syrup was a members only club. Until Tunechi got ahold of it, that is.

As Lil Wayne's mixtapes began to propel him to superstardom, he began frequently and shamelessly including talk about lean, as well as other prescription drugs within his lyrics. In every picture and video he was seen in thereafter, he was basically trademarked by a double Styrofoam cup, even several seizures and hospitalizations later. He even defended "his cup" in a famous interview with Katie Couric. After Weezy, the veil was removed and the floodgates were open. Future and 2 Chainz are just a couple of artists who had careers smothered in sizzurp. It could even be alleged that capitalizing off the wave of the "new" popular drug helped take their careers to the next level.

2. Made face tats and dreads popular

In the cornrow era, Lil Wayne switched up his style and grew dreadlocks. This is about the time that he started to develop his own identity outside of the Hot Boyz and began to truly display his growth and lyrical prowess with his own crew, Sqad Up. By the time they "swang down his back like Repunzel," his cool kid demeanor had everyone following suit.

Around the same time he got his new dew, he got two small tattoos underneath his right eye. Besides prison lifers and hardcore cholos in Los Angeles, face tattoos were shocking to see in the public. Lil Wayne seemed to start a trend when him and his "Daddy" sported their infamous teardrops. Wayne was rapping about tats on his "face, his back and his arm" way back in 2002 with TQ on "Way of Life" and has added several since then. Today, nearly every artist with "lil" preceding their name rocks the combination of irreversible styles like it's a starter kit. At least they are not afraid of commitment.

3. Made mumble rapping popular

Whether it was intentional or a result of heavy promethazine consumption, Weezy was amongst the first to lazily slur on the track with nearly ear aching melodies to the point where the words were barely recognizable. Earlier songs such "Lollipop" and "Prostitute" introduced this sluggish style of recording that was later adopted by artists such as Lil Uzi, Young Thug and so many others. However, Weezy F. rarely if ever gets the credit for these muffled, drug induced cadences. Oops, I forgot to say the baby as he so often politely requests. I hope he forgives me.

4. Made it OK to eat vagina

When Fat Joe was letting them know from the gate he doesn't go down, Wayne was saying, "you better feed me pussy, pussy, pussy." The rhetoric from hip hop spilled out into the streets of urban America and even if you knew someone who did, they would never admit it. Not Dwayne Carter. He never shied away from an opportunity to "tongue kiss the other tongue." After constantly expressing his enjoyment of giving oral pleasure to his female counterparts, other artists didn't seem to be ashamed to share their same freaky pleasures. Hip hop wasn't always so open to such vulnerability. Sorry kids, you had to be there.

5. Transformed mixtape culture

One fact that no true hip hop fan can argue is that Lil Wayne changed the mixtape culture forever. In between albums, him and DJ Drama put out several projects that raised the bar tremendously and truly made him a "martian" in a league of his own. He bullied beats from his competitors and made his freestyles sound better than their hit records. The Dedication 2 and Drought 3 might be regarded as two of the best mixtapes EVER from any artist. The amount of high quality free, passionate, creative material that he released in this format between 2005 and 2012 is nothing short of legendary.

6. Brought subcultures together

Perhaps one of the most significant impacts Wayne made on today's hip hop culture is his ability to bring people together. No hip hop show is more diverse than a Lil Wayne concert. From punk rockers to skaters, local trap stars and gang members to white college girls, Wayne appealed to nearly everyone. He has day-one fans from the Hot Boyz days as well as younger fans who began following him after the success of his mixtapes. They can all quote the opening song from Drought 3 (white girls make sure to sensor yourselves on the N word). A lean sipping blood from New Orleans who skateboards, loves sports and makes rock music but is also the self-proclaimed best rapper alive. And he made it all look cool. Lil Wayne made it OK to not play into the traditional stereotype.

It's a shame that someone who has contributed so much to the culture as well as careers of others can't even currently release any music of his own. Who would've ever that an album called can Barter 6 could come and go and be taken seriously before The Carter 5. It's a sad testament to the evils of the industry and how devoted loyalty can sometimes backfire. Regardless of his contractual situation, it's important that we give our beloved artists their roses while they can still smell them. Both fans and people within the industry sometimes have a short-term memory, but let's never forget those who paved the way and help us elevate this thing we all love to the next level.

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