Now that Lil Wayne has struck a plea deal that's expected to send him to prison for up to a year, what's next for the Cash Money Records lyricist?
He's due back in a Manhattan courtroom on December 15 by request of the judge for a status update. At that hearing, the rapper's formal sentencing date will be set for sometime in February 2010 — he will be sentenced to one year in prison as a part of his deal, where he pleaded guilty to attempted gun possession, a class "D" felony in New York.
In the courtroom on Thursday (October 22), Wayne admitted to possession of a .40-caliber semi-automatic weapon. "Yes," he told the judge when asked if he was in possession of the firearm. The rapper added the word "dominion" after his affirmation, meaning he didn't fully possess the gun, but rather it was within his radius and available for use.
"Possession is defined as actual possession or dominion or control. ... we said it was dominion and control," the lead prosecutor on the case, Joan Illuzzi-Orbon, told MTV News.
The difference between actual possession and dominion or attempted possession isn't much in New York. In 2006, the state legislature passed a resolution that increased the minimum jail sentence for attempted possession to equal that of actual possession. So whether someone plans to use the gun or if they're simply carrying it, the punishment is the same in Empire State, where officials have instituted some of the country's harshest gun laws.
"Basically, the old law required someone to have a loaded weapon and intend to use it [before] the mandatory minimum would kick in," Attorney Scott Leemon explained to MTV News. "And basically, what they did is they took that out of the law. So the mere possession of a loaded weapon in New York State is a felony.
"That's why you should not have a gun in New York," he advised.
In other states, gun laws vary and could theoretically be more lenient in a similar situation to that of Lil Wayne.
The MC had long denied he had actual possession of the gun, which is registered in the state of Mississippi to Cortez Bryant, his manager. The gun wasn't even found on him by police, but rather in a bag on his tour bus next to him. But because of the nature of New York's laws, ultimately, he was held accountable.
During the night in question in July 2007, when Wayne was headlining his first solo show in New York, the rapper lashed out at police, who he felt were overly aggressive.
"I just went through the worst f----in' feelin ever with y'all police," he said from the stage after being searched and what he felt was harassed. "This may be one of the only times you see me because of how they treated me."
Other artists on the bill that night, from Juelz Santana to Ja Rule, endured similar harsh conditions at the Beacon Theatre, as the combination of aggressive security inside and police presence outside created what DJ Khaled described as suffocating conditions.
"Leaving the Beacon was weird for me," Khaled told MTV News. "I felt like [police] was just watching everybody. It didn't feel right. Everybody was backstage, undercovers, I heard Ja Rule got pulled over. And nobody was doing anything wrong. That's why I didn't really understand it. Me, I didn't leave from backstage. I left with the crowd. When I was leaving, I was hearing all this stuff about people getting pulled over. I feel hip-hop is a target for no reason right now."
Ja Rule was also pulled over that night by New York Police Department officers and faces similar charges to Lil Wayne. His case, however, is still pending. Wayne's attorney, Stacey Richman, has also been retained by the Queens rapper. A different judge, though, is presiding in Ja Rule's case.
While Lil Wayne has court dates and jail time in his future, the rapper is also prepping the release of a lot of new music.
A new mixtape, No Ceiling, is due online soon. And he's putting the final touches on his rock-leaning album Rebirth as well as an album by his Young Money collective. Both albums are slated for release in December on Universal/Motown.
Those projects should safely carry Lil Wayne into the new year and releases by protégés Drake and Nicki Minaj will keep Lil Wayne buzzing long after he begins his prison term.