Lil Wayne Prepares His Post-Prison Comeback

The MC has a notebook full of rhymes for 'Tha Carter IV,' due out in 2011

By Evan Serpick
Oct 25, 2010

Rap's biggest star had one goal when he was released from prison on November 4th: finding a plane with a studio, so he could start cutting tracks on his way home to see his family. "We're gonna deal with that microphone, no trip," said Bryan Williams, a.k.a. Birdman, co-founder of Wayne's label, Cash Money Rec-ords. "You can't keep him out of the studio."

During his eight-month stint in New York's Rikers Island on weapons charges, Lil Wayne was putting rhymes down on paper at a furious pace – something the notorious freestyler hasn't done in years. "He hasn't written out rhymes since [his early group] the Hot Boys," says Birdman. "There's a different swagger coming from Wayne, different things to talk about."

The jailhouse rhymes are intended for Wayne's next album, Tha Carter IV (planned for early 2011), the follow-up to the 2008 triple-platinum smash, Tha Carter III. His manager, Cortez Bryant, says Wayne's new rhymes will focus on his time in prison and reflect some larger truths about his life and success. "He's had time to take everything in from the years leading up to his going in," says Bryant. "We've been at such a fast pace, moving, moving, moving, that he's finally been able to put some things in perspective."

It's not as if Wayne has been missing from the charts. In August, he released "Right Above It," featuring Drake – the song debuted at Number Six on the Hot 100. A month later, he released I Am Not a Human Being, an album of material recorded before prison, which hit Number One. And Weezy's collaboration with Eminem, "No Love," has been a radio staple.

Drake, who is signed to Wayne's Young Money Entertainment label and appears on about half of I Am Not a Human Being, says Weezy was desperate to keep up with the music world. "He wanted to know about everything that's been going on," says Drake, who visited Wayne three times during his sentence. In jail, Wayne's daily routine included long sets of push-ups, greeting visitors including Kanye West and Nicki Minaj, and reading fan mail. The MC maintained a presence with fans through Weezy thanxyou.com, where he posted letters to fans and added short responses to some of the hundreds of letters he received. "He actually went through all the letters himself," says Lil Twist, a rapper on Young Money Entertainment who maintained Weezy's website and Twitter accounts.

But more than anything, Wayne spent his time in prison prepping for his return. "He wrote, he listened to the radio every day – they get the radio and the local stations out there, so he still listened to as much music as he could," said Bryant.

In May, Wayne was caught with an MP3 player and headphones – they are not allowed. As a result, the MC served his last month of detention in solitary confinement.

Wayne planned to spend a few days with his family after his release, probably including a big party in Miami. After that, there is talk of a show, possibly in Las Vegas, but plans haven't been finalized. "He's gonna come home and make everything better," said Birdman. "He's our super superstar, he's our Michael Jackson. We did great while he was gone, and I know we're going to do even better now he's come home."


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