Born: 27 September 1982
Birthplace: New Orleans, Louisiana
Best known as: The Grammy-winning rapper of the Tha Carter series of albums
Name at birth: Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr.
Rapper Lil Wayne is known for his next-generation mix of whimsy and menace -- what the Baltimore City Paper called a "gravelly, giggly idiot-savant patter" that turns "standard gangsta tropes into triple-decker punch lines." The hugely successful formula made him one of the biggest rap stars of the 2000s. A prodigy from a tough New Orleans neighborhood, Lil Wayne caught the attention of the Cash Money record label at age 12. He formed The Hot Boys with the rappers B.G., Young Turk and Juvenile in 1997; his first solo album, Tha Block Is Hot (1999), put him on the rap map at the tender age of 16. But he really came into his own with his 2004 album Tha Carter, and its sequels Tha Carter II (2005) and Tha Carter III (2008). He also is known for his open-the-floodgates output of "freestyle" mixed tapes and internet singles in the mid-2000s, as well as his guest appearances on dozens of records by other rappers. Wayne was arrested in Arizona in January of 2008 and charged with possession of marijuana, cocaine and MDMA (or "Ecstacy"), and in 2009 he entered a guilty plea on a felony weapons charge dating to 2007. Tha Carter III (2008) won four Grammy Awards, including best rap album and best rap song for the single "Lollipop." He spent 8 months in jail in New York in 2010, but it didn't slow his career. While incarcerated, Lil Wayne released the album I Am a Human Being and made it to the top of the charts again.
Extra credit: Lil Wayne also goes by the nickname Weezy F. Baby, or just Weezy for short... Tha Carter is a reference to his real name, Dwayne Carter... He has the words "Fear God" tattooed over his right and left eyelids, and teardrops inked beneath the corner of each eye, among his many other tattoos.
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