Long before Lil Wayne was an inmate or even an alien—officially, of course—he was hip-hop’s LeBron James, if you will. His contract was ending with Cash Money and as an artist, Wayne knew he wanted to be more than just an MC for the same label he’d grown up on. Maybe he wanted to see what becoming a Def Jam artist under then-president Jay-Z would be like, or maybe he’d like to become a label owner himself. The MC had just released Tha Carter II and was still weighing his options as the hip-hop community waited with baited breath.
Back in 2006, MTV News vet Shaheem Reid spoke to Wayne on his 24th birthday about possibly of signing to one of hip-hop’s greatest MCs. But first, the pair kinda played phone tag about a musical collaboration.
“He never called,” said Wayne. “I mean, I talked to him, he told me everything I wanted to hear. He let me know that I’m that dude, he see me, keep my head up. That’s better than a verse for me, that’s my idol right there.”
Wayne was so impressed by Jay-Z reaching out, that the MC said the gesture was enough.
“He ain’t never got to do a verse for me,” said Lil Wayne. “Just him acknowledging me when anybody else ask him anything and when they don’t, he say something. That’s enough for me.”
Finally, Sha got to the big question; was there any bad blood between the two MCs when Wayne decided to remain with Cash Money and launch Young Money Records?
“It was very very tough,” said Wayne, raising his sunglasses to look directly into the camera’s lens. “But you know, I’m a loyal dude, I stick with the fam. But I hope we can do something in the future with my fam and his fam.
“I won’t front it was very tough,” Lil Wayne continued. “I grew up from when I was eight [years old] until I got my deal when I was 11 [with Cash Money]. I started writing when I was 8 and from 8 to 11 Cash Money was Rocafella, Def Jam, all of them in one. I got with them at 11 and I couldn’t believe it. So from 15, In My Lifetime, Vol. 1 to Reasonable Doubt, all that, I was like that’s the dude. Then he built his team and who don’t want to be down? You could hate all you want, but I know you want to be down.”
Despite his admiration for Jay-Z, Weezy knew that he was a star himself as well and shouldn’t be impressed into making a decision about his future.
“I had to sit down and think, I knew that I was of stature too,” said Wayne. “I haven’t made my mark yet, I haven’t met that time period yet. I have a lot put in, but when I met [Jay-Z's] mark, I’ll have a lot more put in and I know that I could probably build something bigger and better, but all off of his blueprint though because he’s the best.”
And now we have Nicki Minaj, Drake as well as the rest of the Cash Money/Young Money click. Do you think Wayne made the right decision by not signing to the then Jay-Z-led Def Jam records? Tell us in a comment below!