PHOTO BY ALDO ROSSI
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 Nicki Minaj, and taught her how to get really weird. The rest is history, as told to T Cole Rachel and Interview:
On Wayne's going to prison:
That is something that was always at the forefront of my mind. You don't have to talk about it a lot, but... it was very surreal. It's still hard to believe that that really happened. But every time I spoke to him he was so positive. He'd be on the phone and like, instead of me cheering him up it's like he's doing the opposite, he's giving me like, the words, the wisdom.
On life without Wayne's mentorship:
I don't ever want to imagine that. I can't even imagine my career, um, my creative spirit without Wayne. I credit him with a lot of what I do. Prior to him, no one relevant in hip-hop really gave me that support. I feel like I'm still intertwined with him creatively.
Before I met Wayne, the person that was spearheading my career was the one person who always told me, "Don't be too playful, don't be too kooky and weird... no one's gonna feel that, nobody wants to hear that." So I stifled a lot of that early on, and then once that we parted ways, I was like, "Guess what, I'm gonna just be me."
On gender with Wayne:
Even though Wayne is my mentor, I've never gone to Wayne and asked him, "Hey Wayne, could you write me a rap?" That makes me just like one of the boys, you know? My work ethic is just like their work ethic, and I don't have to wait on them to tell me to what to say. And I think that's a big part of it.