Lil Wayne will be logging time in a New York jail cell in 2010, but the New Orleans rapper's flame will likely be carried on despite his absence.
That's because the Young Money top dog emboldens his troops, according to star protégé Drake.
The So Far Gone star said Wayne takes a hands-off approach when it comes to grooming his camp, a strategy that should pay off as the collective's We Are Young Money project picks up steam in the new year and releases from Drake and Nicki Minaj hit shelves.
"I think the best thing about Wayne is that he doesn't really get too involved in us developing as artists," Drake told MTV News recently in Toronto. "He doesn't give his input on how we should be, or how we should rap, or how we should dress. Wayne just gives us the opportunity. If you drop the ball, you drop the ball. But Wayne's gonna give you the setup. Wayne is gonna throw you the alley-oop — you just have to cut to the hoop and slam."
Wayne was arrested in Manhattan following his first solo show in New York City in 2007. Police stopped his bus and found weapons, which ultimately let to the rapper striking a plea deal with authorities where he will serve a year in prison for attempted possession of a firearm. The rapper's Rebirth album is tentatively scheduled for a February release, the same month Wayne is scheduled to appear in court for sentencing.
Since the time of his arrest, Wayne has assembled a colorful roster of artists, ranging from Harlem rapper Jae Millz and songwriter Shannell to upstart Short Dawg, among others.
The crew, signed to Wayne's Young Money team, just released their first official project together after various mixtape contributions with each other.
Drake said Wayne has put him in a position to succeed by letting the Toronto lyricist discover himself as an artist, a feat that will undoubtedly take place for the rest of the YM roster while the boss is away.
"With that being said, he really gives you the space and lets you become your own person," Drake said. "He respects [artists that know] about themselves. He doesn't want to shape us all. I don't really know who wants to do that anymore. That was like, in '96 or something, when labels would be like, 'You got to be like this.' Wayne doesn't want to do that. Wayne wants us to thrive as the people we truly are, which is great."