For a young man named "Lil Wayne" he's certainly led a big life!
Born Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. 27-years ago, this Grammy winning rapper, actor and CEO wrote his first song at age eight, recorded his first by age eleven, accidentally shot himself at 13, quit school at 14, joined a top Hip hop group at 15 and became a national recording star by age sixteen.
From his solo debut at 17 until now, Lil Wayne has become one of the top superstar rap artists of his time, while also managing to record and perform with dozens of fellow superstars, and...become the father of four children from three different women.
Lil Wayne's beginnings were also anything by typical. He grew up in the Hollygrove neighborhood of New Orleans, Louisiana and enrolled in the gifted program of his elementary school, where he played the part of the 'Tin Man' in the drama club's production of 'The Wiz'.
Shortly afterwards, Wayne met Bryan Williams, rapper and owner of 'Cash Money Records'. Williams would become his mentor, letting Wayne record freestyle raps on his phone answering machine....which he eventually included in Cash Money's distributed songs.
In 1997, Lil Wayne became the youngest member of the group 'Hot Boys' along with rappers 'Juvenile', 'Turk' and 'B.G.' That same year they released albums 'Get it How U Live' and 'Guerilla Warfare', which reached #1 on the Billboard Magazine charts. Their compilation album 'Let it Burn' reached #3 on the Top R&B/Hip-hop Albums chart.
In 1999 Lil Wayne's solo album 'Tha Block is Hot' went double-platinum and was followed by two more....'Lights Out' and '500 Degrees', however, in 2001 Wayne suffered a 2nd gunshot wound when "some groupies" fired at his chest through a bus window in Florida. "The bullet didn't go all the way in cause the window slowed it down," said Wayne.
In 2004, the album 'Tha Carter'(after his last name) released to what critics called an advancement in his rap-style and lyrical themes, along with a new, reggae hairstyle of dread locks...which he still wears.
After Tha Carter sold over 1-million copies in the U.S., Wayne was featured in 'Destiny's Child's' single "Soldier" with 'T.I'., which topped the U.S. Hot-100 and R&B charts. Wayne has also collaborated with the likes of 'J.Z', 'Chris Brown', 'Fat Joe', 'DJ Khaled', 'Rick Ross', 'Birdman', 'Little Brother', 'Kanye West', 'Ludacris' and 'Enrique Iglesias'...among others.
Following albums 'Tha Carter II'(2-million copies sold) and 'Tha Carter III', Wayne was named president of Cash Money Records and founded 'Young Money Entertainment'. Tha Carter III produced Wayne's most commercially successful song to date, "lollipop", featuring 'Static'.
While these past three years have seen wonderous ackomplishments, Wayne has also run into a few glitches with the law that he has yet to overcome. Still, to his credit, Wayne performed at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards with 'Kid Rock', and repeated at the BET Hip-hop Awards where he was nominated 12 times. He was also the first hip-hop act to ever perform at the CMA Awards, was MTV's first ever Man of the Year, and was also nominated for eight Grammy's....winning four of them.
However, through it all, Wayne admitted during an interview with CBS's Katie Couric that he enjoys using marijuana recreationally, and his tour bus has been raided twice.... landing him two arrests, along with a gun possession charge.
In January, 2008 Wayne's bus was stopped again in Arizona by border patrol agents who recovered large amounts of marijuana, cocaine, m.d.m.a. and $22,000 in cash. Lil Wayne is currently free on bond, and allowed to travel and perform....however, he's been convicted and sentenced to one-year in jail. His term begins on February 9th, 2010.
Despite this setback, one can't help but pull for this unusual rap artist, who is well on his way to an online psychology degree from The University of Houston, who grew up adoring the rock group 'Nirvana', who is a sports fanatic and appeared as a guest host on ESPN , and who has been favorably mentioned by President Obama during two separate speeches.
Look forward to Lil Wayne making a BIG comeback next year.