It's been that kind of year for [artist id="510062"]Lil Wayne[/artist]. In addition to smashing the sales chart with his Tha Carter III album, Wayne killed it in concert ticket sales as well. According to Billboard, Weezy's 2008-2009 [article id="1600172"]I Am Music[/article] and [article id="1617711"]America's Most Wanted[/article] tours banked around $42 million total, making for the biggest hip-hop tour of the year and possibly the largest grosses for a rap outing that Billboard has ever tracked.
The 78 dates Wayne and company headlined in North American arenas and amphitheaters from December 14, 2008, through September 6, 2009, pulled nearly 804,000 fans, according the rapper's tour producer and tour business manager; the current tour wraps up Thursday night (September 10) in Mansfield, Massachusetts, before heading over to England in October for three dates.
"It's definitely one of the biggest in the last couple of years," tour producer Shawn Gee told the magazine's Web site. "Our plan was to prove that Wayne was a viable headlining arena artist." It appears that goal was reached, as Wayne's tour easily looks to surpass the second-highest-grossing rap tour on Billboard's radar, the 2008 Jay-Z/ Mary J. Blige outing, which grossed $34.6 million and drew 310,694 concertgoers to 28 shows.
Wayne's AMW tour was filled with pyro, pole dancing, plenty of rock guitar and support from [article id="1620827"]Young Jeezy, Soulja Boy Tell'em, Jeremih, Pleasure P, Birdman, the rapper's Young Money All-Stars crew[/article] and, before he blew out his knee again, [article id="1618910"]Drake[/article]. During his I Am Music jaunt, Wayne was supported by a rotating series of guests that included T-Pain, Gym Class Heroes, Keyshia Cole and Keri Hilson. Aside from Wayne's iconic status — and 3.2 million in sales for Tha Carter III, Gee said the eclectic mix of opening acts is one of the reasons the tour was able to reach so many different segments of the rapper's diverse audience.
While hip-hop tours rarely make it onto the Billboard year-end list of the top 25 grossing tours, the magazine said it's likely that Wayne's 2009 dates will earn a spot on this year's roster. Wayne's [article id="1617193"]often-delayed next album, Rebirth,[/article] is currently scheduled for a November 24 release, and Gee said he thinks the rapper will continue to be an arena-size draw, though no plans for a tour in support of that album are currently scheduled.
"We definitely want to capitalize on the success we've had and want to continue building Wayne as a touring artist and not just an artist that tours," Gee said. "We established him as a headline artist and I think it grows from there."