By Chris Yuscavage
It’s only been eight months, but it seems like Lil Wayne has been in prison for a long time, doesn’t it?
As RapFix pointed out yesterday, Young Money’s leading man has missed the dramatic transformation of Nicki Minaj, the comeback of Kanye West, the rise of Waka Flocka Flame and the debut of Drake thanks to the prison sentence that he’s been serving at New York’s Riker’s Island facility. But Weezy hasn’t squandered his time.
Aside from the personal growth we know he’s gained during his time away, Wayne has also managed to do some really great things for his career despite his position since March. To demonstrate this point, RapFix gathered a list of the 10 things Wayne’s accomplished from behind the Riker’s Island walls. By the looks of things, Birdman, Drake, Nicki and the rest of the crew will be celebrating more than just Wayne’s release later this week.
1. He released a chart-topping album
How in the hell did he … ? Yeah, that was our response, too. Though he’d been gone for more than five months at the time, Weezy released I Am Not A Human Being—an album featuring 10 brand new tracks—at the end of September. He’s sold more than 250,000 copies of the album so far and landed at the top of the U.S. Billboard 200 chart. Out of this world, huh?
2. He increased the buzz for Tha Carter IV
Originally, Cash Money/Young Money was going to release Tha Carter IV shortly after Wayne got out of jail (or, at least, that’s was they said they were going to do). However, thanks to the success of I Am Not A Human Being as well as the success of Drake and Nicki Minaj, it sounds like he’ll have plenty of time to build even more buzz around himself before he drops his next album. Shooting to sell another mill, huh, Wayne?
3. He made personal connections with his fans
Most rappers that go to jail disappear. Not Wayne. Thanks to a blog called WeezyThanxYou, he maintained almost constant communication with his fans during his incarceration and managed to shout some of them out in his letters when they sent him fan mail. The guy even shot off a message from solitary confinement. Not bad, huh?
4. He’s rested up
Did you hear Wayne’s jailhouse interview with Funkmaster Flex a couple months back? It’s worth listening to because he sounds good. And while he admitted that he couldn’t say the first thing he’s going to do after he gets out of prison on the radio—which could mean a lot of things—some time away from being the life of the party was probably exactly what the doctor ordered.
5. He made his way onto President Barack Obama’s iPod
6. He appeared in Drake’s “Miss Me” video
Talk about knowing you’ve got a hit on your hands. Months before Drake’s “Miss Me” took off as a single, Wayne shot a video of him doing his verse. So when the song finally did take off and Drake chose it as the third single from Thank Me Later, he had a clip of Weezy all ready to go.
7. He was featured on the biggest rap album of the year
8. He spent at least one week as the most downloaded artist in the world
Probably not a huge shock, right? But at the beginning of September, Wayne spent seven days as the most downloaded artist—in the world. Downloaded more than Drake. Downloaded more than Jay-Z. Hell, Wayne was downloaded more than Lady Gaga! And he hadn’t recorded a new song in almost six months.
9. He heard Kanye West’s entire album
As if Wayne needed anymore motivation to head straight from his cell to the studio, Kanye reportedly visited him in late September and spit his entire album for him. So now Wayne knows what he’s up against, huh, ’Ye? Watch out.
10. He finally got a break from all the touring and recording
He might not admit it, but Wayne’s jail sentence was probably a blessing in disguise. The 24/7/365 grind of being one of the most celebrated rappers on the planet can’t be good for your health. Revitalized and recharged, we expect an even better “Best Rapper Alive” to emerge on November 4.
It’s “Welcome Home Weezy” week at MTV News. Check back every day for articles, updates, blog posts and more as we track the countdown to the Carter’s homecoming. Stay tuned!
What do you think Wayne’s biggest accomplishment was during his time in prison? Tweet us at @MTVRapFix or tell us in a comment below.