OK, so, maybe Lil Wayne isn't a traditional candidate for a Man of the Year list. The Cash Money rhyme spitter didn't even spit that many new rhymes in 2010. Weezy was sent to jail in March for eight months on a gun rap and was unable to record new material, save for a phone freestyle he delivered for a remix to Drake's "Light Up." But prior to his imprisonment, the New Orleans MC worked harder than Tupac in his last days. At one point, Lil Wayne actually shot nine music videos (!!!) in one weekend.
But it was his work outside the recording booth where the Young Money Entertainment founder left his real mark over the past 12 months. His star signings Drake and Nicki Minaj fulfilled their potential as both dropped impressive debut albums allowing him to kick up his feet and play the CEO role. And Wayne went viral by signing up for Twitter and launching a blog from behind bars. #FreeWeezy, indeed.
2010 Highlights: In February, Wayne joined Drake, Kanye West and Eminem for a rousing — and highly censored — performance of "Forever" at the Grammys. Hours later, Weezy joined an all-star cast of musicians for the "We Are the World" remake to benefit Haiti earthquake victims. Then, just over a week later, he somehow found the energy to partake in a marathon day of shooting videos in Miami.
But life turned around for Lil Wayne in early March when he joined Young Jeezy onstage at Madison Square Garden after an NYC courthouse fire prevented the rapper from beginning his prison sentence. A week after turning himself in, Weezy's rock-leaning effort Rebirth was certified gold.
Wayne arrived online! The jailed rapper started WeezyThanxYou.com, a blog to help him interact with fans while he was confined at Rikers Island.
Diddy visited Lil Wayne in prison; the list of visitors to see the rapper read like a VIP guest list, including Drake, Kanye West and Nicki Minaj.
The hard-working wordsmith phoned an engineer and contributed a verse to Drake's "Light Up," dubbing himself the new Tupac. A month later, a new track by Wayne featuring Drake arrives, "Right Above It," the first release from the rapper's I Am Not a Human Being project, which also earned him a gold plaque.
Holdover material, however, couldn't compete with the real thing: Days after being released from prison, Wayne traveled to Las Vegas to surprise Drake and fans with his first performance since he took the stage with Jeezy.
We'll be rolling out our Top Five Men and Women of 2010 all week, until we unveil MTV News' Man and Woman of the Year on Friday. As always, we want to know what you think, so share your picks in the comments below!