PHOTO BY ROBBIE FIMMANO
At the age of just 28, Lil Wayne has already made an indelible influence on a young generation of rappers. He famously discovered and mentored Drake, after a tape by the former Degrassi star made it to his inner circle. The rapper commanded Drake's presence in Houston the next day. The rest is history, as told to Dimitri Ehrlich and Interview:
The, the music was played to him by someone I knew at the time who was around him. I assume it was played on the tour bus, you know, but I never really got the exact story. Two songs into it, he stopped the CD and asked the person to get me on the phone. I showed up to Houston and I was staying at the Hotel Derek, I remember. They brought me to my room and I was just in disbelief, like, "What am I doing here?" You know? For me it was surreal.
I got a knock on the door and it was E.I., who later went on to become one of my closest friends. He was just like, you know, "Wayne wants to see you on the bus. And I'm his, I'm his road manager." So he brought me on the bus, and Wayne was getting like the most painful tattoo in the world. He was getting these huge wings on each side of his body. I'm a very observant person, you know, and when I haven't met somebody, and I get the chance to actually see them in person, I try not to talk too much. I speak when spoke to. I'm just staring around taking in little things, you know... ashtrays and cups, what that person's eating, what that person's hobbies are, if I can tell by looking—I really study an individual by their surroundings.
Then he proceeded to play me Tha Carter III—of course I was blown away at the time, 'cause nobody had heard it yet. I heard it front to back and it was, it was amazing. I just remember like little anecdotes, like somebody came on the bus like, "Yo, Kobe Bryant wants a iPod so he can play it tonight." It was just like crazy, crazy things that on in Wayne's life every day. Everybody's a Lil' Wayne fan.
The first meeting wasn't really anything pivotal. It was cool. I think he saw that I was a good kid, or trying to be a good kid, and I was just staring at one of my idols. I stayed on the road with him for a while, about a week and a half. And I think it was the last night before I went back home, we finally got into the studio and made some music.