Before he was conquering the mainstream music world, [artist id="510062"]Lil Wayne[/artist] was engrossed in the local New Orleans hip-hop scene, and making a name for himself as a member of the then bourgeoning Cash Money army. Today, Weezy is a hip-hop phenomenon, pushing units and influencing culture with his peerless swagger. Despite his outsize fame, local hip-hop stars have said that Wayne still shows love to the artists of his hometown where it all began.
Just days after Weezy's release from prison, MTV News trekked to New Orleans and caught up with local duo Partners-N-Crime, who stayed on the hip-hop grind with Wayne and onetime battle MC, Mack Maine, now president of Young Money. The rappers recall knowing Wayne as artists on a rival hip-hop roster.
"When we was coming up in the game, Wayne was a little bit younger than us. We was on a label by the name of Big Boy Records, at the time, and he was with Cash Money Records. And really, to be honest with you, both of the labels kinda had a little rivalry thing going on" Kango Slim said. The label, which was once home to fellow New Orleans hip-hop veteran Mystikal, maintained a competitive relationship with the Cash Money camp.
"At one time, we all never did look eye-to-eye to each other 'cause it was kinda like a problem between both of the labels," he said. "But as we grew older, things [began] to change, we began to [gel] with each other more and become more of a friendship."
Mista Meana said that after Cash Money, which began to dominate the hip-hop charts with bass-heavy offerings from spitters like Juvenile and B.G., hit big, the drama between the labels calmed down and Wayne reached out to the Partners to team up on a track.
"Once Wayne got kinda on, we did a song with Wayne called 'We Do What We Want To,' which was on our last album, called We Are Legends, " he said. The MC recalled that the track hinted at the rock and roll vibe Wayne would champion in his later music.
"We call it rock-hop 'cause it's a hip-hop song with a rock twist to it and Wayne did it. It was kinda right before he started doing the Rebirth and that kind of music, pretty much," he added. "He did that song with us and the relationship been good pretty much from that point. Much love for Wayne, [we're] happy he home."
The MCs are glad to see Wayne as free man today, but they were also amped a few years ago when Wayne looked out for his hometown homies.
"Wayne came back after he had done blew off with the Cash Money thing, reached back to us and told us, 'If y'all had a song for me to do ... I'm a do it,' " Kango Slim said. "He did just what he said, and from then on we've just been friends ever since and making things happen."
The MCs also reflected on one of the perks of being down with Wayne: a hometown discount.
"At that time, that's when Wayne was charging $30,000 for a feature," Mista Meana added. "Big shouts out to Wayne for the love on that because he saved us 30 grand and gave us a hot feature."
Stick with MTV News throughout the weekend for up-to-the-minute reports on Lil Wayne's prison release as we follow him from Rikers Island to his celebrations at home and beyond. Follow us on Twitter @MTVNews for instant updates and bookmark weezywatch.mtv.com for complete, round-the-clock coverage.