There really is no other recording artist like Lil Wayne. That’s high praise in the world of hip-hop since following a successful template is common. So here are 10 reasons why Lil Wayne, who Thursday becomes the first hip-hop artist to play Intrust Bank Arena, is unlike anyone else in his genre:
1. Longevity. Lil Wayne (aka Dwayne Michael Carter Jr.), is just 32, but he’s been a professional rapper since punk broke. Yes, Carter was just 9 when he started recording songs with Cash Money Records. Unlike rappers from that era, Lil Wayne has outlived Kris Kross and Lil’ Bow Wow. It all started for Lil Wayne during the summer of 1991. He was introduced to Bryan Williams, the owner of Cash Money Records. He delivered freestyle raps on Williams’ answering machine (a pre-texting device designed to record messages via the telephone). Williams was so impressed he signed the young charge and agreed to mentor Lil Wayne. Smart move. Lil Wayne passed Elvis Presley in 2012 as the male with the most entries on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with 109 songs. Lil Wayne has been around nearly a quarter century and shows no signs of letting up.
2. The music. Lil Wayne was a novelty out of the gate, a pre-pubescent delivering hard-core rap. But Lil Wayne proved that he was no joke by becoming a game-changing hip-hop artist, who reinvented Southern rap. Lil Wayne is one of the provocative inventive rappers, arguably the finest at his craft since Chuck D mesmerized audiences. We all know what Weezy can do with collaborations. Lil Wayne is the reason Kevin Rudolf’s “Let It Rock” became a smash. His rapping also helped make Destiny’s Child’s “Soldier” and Chris Brown’s “Look at Me Now.” But Lil Wayne is at his best when he surprises his fan base. He hit it out of the park with “How to Love,” a moving, poignant ballad that dropped in 2011 and with 2013’s under-heralded “Krazy,” which is off the charts catchy.
3. The drawl. It’s evident where Lil Wayne comes from. The New Orleans born-and-bred rapper has a unique delivery. He started taking it to another level with 2002’s “500 Degrees.” Any frontman who is as identifiable as Lil Wayne is doing something right.
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4. The style. When “Tha Carter” dropped in 2004, it was a departure in more ways than one for Lil Wayne. His rapping style morphed. He sounds like a confident adult throughout the album, but there was something else, which was just as notable. Lil Wayne debuted his signature dreadlocks on the album’s cover. Scribes wrote about his new look, but it was more than just flash. “Go DJ” hit the Top 5 of the R&B Hip-Hop chart.
5. Socially conscious. “Georgia Bush” is a classic diss. Lil Wayne slammed President George Bush for handling of Hurricane Katrina, which slammed the rapper’s native Big Easy. Lil Wayne is funny, passionate and clever throughout the memorable salvo. The critically acclaimed track earned raves from Spike Lee and Public Enemy.
6. Sharing the wealth. Lil Wayne has appeared on Madonna’s “Revolver” and Weezer’s “Can’t Stop Partying,” but that’s just one side of his contributions. He’s also a philanthropist. The mission of his “One Family Foundation is to “to empower urban youth by engaging them in opportunities to cultivate their talents and skills by educating them to become productive and economically self-sufficient,” according to change.org.
7. Play ball. Lil Wayne loves sports and has written for ESPN the Magazine. He is a fan of the Los Angeles Lakers, the Boston Red Sox, the Green Bay Packers and the Boston Bruins. The common denominator is that each of those teams is usually in the playoffs each season.
8. Name-drop from the Commander-in-Chief. Not everyone gets namechecked by the President but Lil Wayne got props from a then-candidate Obama in 2008. When Obama was addressing students and detailing the importance of a good education, he connected with the dreamers. “You are probably not that good a rapper. Maybe you are the next Lil Wayne, but probably not, in which case you need to stay in school.” Wayne dropped out of school to pursue his hip-hop dream but went back to score his GED.
9. Grunge makes an impact. Lil Wayne revealed to Vibe magazine that he loved Nirvana. Lil Wayne respected and admired the late Kurt Cobain. Much like the iconic ‘90s figure, Wayne is uncompromising and adventurous.
10. Retirement. Lil Wayne has talked about calling it a career as a recording artist but hopefully that’s just talk. It doesn’t get any better than Lil Wayne’s 2011 release, “Tha Carter IV,” which is filled with dramatic, brash and witty hip-hop. Hopefully, Lil Wayne can keep it going since he’s not even old enough to run for president.
If You Go
What: Rapper is first hip-hop artist to play at Intrust Bank Arena. Also appearing: Trey Songz, Kid Ink, Ty Dolla Sign and Fetty Wap
When: 7 p.m. Thursday
Where: Intrust Bank Arena, 500 E. Waterman
Tickets: $49.50, $65, $89.50 and $129.50, selectaseat.com, 1-855-755-7328