Lil Wayne's Styrofoam cup is practically the elephant in the room.
Journalists and fans alike have speculated about just what Weezy is downing every time we see him in public with one of those cups. They know full well that Wayne has thrown us plenty of hints through his verses. "I like my Sprite Easter-pink," he rapped on DJ Khaled's "We Takin' Over." More pointedly, he declared "weed and syrup till I die" on "Duffle Bag Boy," a collaboration with Atlanta's Playaz Circle.
On Sunday night, during a concert in Newark, New Jersey, Wayne explained to the audience that sipping syrup — a combination made up chiefly of promethazine and codeine, which is supposed to be prescribed by doctors for severe colds and pneumonia — is a part of the culture in the South (although Philadelphia is also notorious for syrup). He also talked about how he gets flak for it.
"I've been criticized for the things I chose and things I've chosen to do," he said at the show. "What I tell 'em?" The sample from "I Feel Like Dying" kicked in, and a shirtless Wayne shook his dreads as thousands of fans sang along. "If you do what the f--- you wanna do, say yeah!" he yelled.
Wayne has said he's been hearing about how he needs to cut back on syrup more than ever in the wake of Pimp C's death in December. The UGK member's death was ruled accidental and due to a deadly combination of syrup and his sleep-apnea condition. Pimp was the most prominent name in the hip-hop community to have a syrup-related death, although Houston MC Big Moe and the legendary DJ Screw have also had their untimely passings tied to syrup consumption. Pimp's partner Bun B recently went public and called the popularity of syrup — also known as "lean," "Texas tea" and "drank" — in the South an "epidemic" and said anyone who uses it may want to take a long look at themselves.
"No, he hasn't talked to me," said Wayne, sitting in his tour bus in his native New Orleans, about Bun, a longstanding friend of the Cash Money Millionaires family. "But I'm going through that same sh-- with my friends, with my mom. Everybody wants me to stop all this and all that. It ain't that easy."
Weezy said he can't just quit cold turkey.
"Do your history, do your research," he vented. "It ain't that easy — feels like death in your stomach when you stop doing that sh--. You gotta learn how to stop, you gotta go through detox. You gotta do all kinds of stuff. Like I said, I'm a selfish-ass n---a. I feel like everything I do is successful and productive. It's gonna be hard to tell me I'm slipping. It's hard to sit and tell a n---a 'Stop.' 'F---, how can we tell this n---a to stop when every f---ing thing he do is successful? This n---a is making progress. He just went and talked to kids and that sh-- was amazing.' Feel me? So what am I doing wrong?
"Let me do me. Everybody's got their thing," he continued with frustration. "Why focus on me? Don't compare me to no one. Don't compare me to no one who has passed, and why they passed. I can walk out this b---h right now and get hit by a bus. Don't judge me. You wanna judge me, put on a black gown and get a gavel. Get in line with the rest of them that's about to judge me. I got court dates every other month. It's me against the world — that's how I feel."
Wayne's disappointment, especially with the way he's been getting frowned upon by the people closest to him, has been festering for weeks. He says his folks — both his inner circle and his associates — have been telling him to chill ever since he got arrested in Yuma, Arizona, on weapons and drug charges — charges he has steadfastly denied. (He also said one of the few positive phone calls he got after the arrest was from Mary J. Blige.) As he sat on the bus and contemplated, he said that apart from music, he really has no sanctuary.
"I don't escape. I don't," he said coldly, looking out the window with a thousand-yard stare. "I'm too shelled-in by it. It's in my own circle. Everybody around here be looking down. I deal with it. ... I never been one to run. I stand there and take it and throw it right back at them b---hes. That's' always been my game."
Admittedly, the negative opinions about the controversy surrounding him has added fuel to his fire, both in and out of the studio. However, even the "Fireman" says he can explode after awhile.
"It's inspiring me, but I'mma tell them now they better stop," he warned. " 'Cause they [are trying to] push me off the edge. If I jump, I'm taking the world with me. That's my word."
"We want Weezy!" That's what fans are yelling. Well, you can find your fix here at MTVNews.com for the next several days, because it's Weezy Week! All week, we'll be rolling out articles in which Lil Wayne expounds on his controversy with 50 Cent, his boundless creativity, his legal difficulties and much more!