Lil Wayne at the House of Blues, June 16, 2008
All photos by Timothy Norris
How did this little dude with a mouthful of gold and a head full of rhymes become the biggest music industry story of the year? With his cartoon good looks — glistening gold teeth too big for his mouth, dreadlocks too long for his frame, pants too droopy for his ass and those little bullet-hole eyes too tiny for the face (and perpetually hidden behind sunglasses) — Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. has the posture of a superhero and the frame of a juiced-up Sammy Davis Jr. He stands up there and you think one of two things: either, 'What, is this guy kidding?' or, “I'm pretty sure he's getting ready to suicide bomb us.” He's an extreme figure, and the skin that's equal parts pigment and ink literally paints him as a circus freak.
Last night Lil Wayne dropped in on the House of Blues to give a buzzing, packed-to-the-rafters crowd a serious talking to. The lecture topic? Getting paid, getting nookie, getting fucked (up) and getting even. And if this really were the blues, Wayne would be more John Lee Hooker than Muddy Waters, someone whose menace simmers rather than explodes, someone whose stories are haunting and whose eyes burn through stone. On this night, Wayne tore through snippets from his entire oeuvre (dude's got the attention span of a gnat ) while a posse of 50 stood behind him and nodded.
The 26-year-old native of New Orleans was all smiles last night. The week before, his newly released Tha Carter III had finally come out, and sold nearly a half million copies on the day of release, a virtually unprecedented feat in today's music marketplace. By the end of the week, it had nearly hit platinum, which Wayne reminded us of at one point. “We got platinum!” he screamed giddily, and at that moment all the bullshit was stripped away — all the the tattoos vanished, the diamonds disappeared, that big-ass chunk of gold on his wrist was rendered moot — by the sheer exuberance of a man at some sort of peak.
In the picture above, Lil Wayne is backed by two of his most potent weapons: his lip gloss girl, who stood ready and waiting just in case Weezy's kissers got chapped; and the Buddha, who has returned from the transcendental realm, present in all the young rapper's phenomena, immortal and otherworldly, to guide Our Young Weezy, Just kidding. That's just a the second biggest human on stage (aside from Lil Wayne's persona, of course).
A green electric guitar sat onstage the entire show, and you knew it was there for a reason. We were hoping for Clapton, but worried that it would be Kravitz. But apparently Lil Wayne wants to be a guitar god, too. So after all that rapping and walking and posturing, Our Hero grabs the guitar, pulls up a chair and attempts to get down to business. It's at this point that we realize that Lil Wayne is quite obviously surrounded by a posse of yes-men, because this guitar shit is lame lame lame. Wayne ain't no Hooker. For all his verbal skills at describing exactly how much money he's getting paid, dude can not play a guitar. It's like maybe he's picked one up a dozen times. And apparently he doesn't have a tech among the 50, because the thing's out of tune. That doesn't stop him. He wails on it, and the solo gradually morphs into “Leather So Soft,” about the pleasures of fame. “I get money hoe fuck what you talkin' 'bout/Straight out the slaughterhouse straight out the dragon's mouth/Fire you can't put out tires are standin' out/The coupe look pigeon-toed I be in a different mode.”
We don't have photos of the Chris Brown cameo, or the when Cash Money Records founder/rapper Bryan “Birdman” Williams, who has adopted Lil Wayne as his son, showed up for “Pop Bottles” and “Stuntin' on My Daddy.” But the crowd went batty, and the ladies went nuts. Have I forgotten to mention the ladies? They squealed and screamed throughout the night, and when Wayne ripped off his shirt and launched into the new “A Millie” — “I'm a young money millionaire, tougher than Nigerian hair” — I swear I heard at least one moaning orgasm (it may have been from the young woman grinding on Suge Knight's lap; I was standing right behind them). But, really, who can blame the ladies for their desires? It's not often you're in the same room as a newly crowned King.