Weezy F, Baby. And the F is for inFluence. We are in the year 2020, and Lil Wayne dropped an album in January, giving him another chart-topping album. As a matter of fact, Wayne has had a Billboard #1 album in 4 decades and has had the 2nd most Billboard Top 40 hits, with 82. We will actually discuss the person who has the most Top 40 hits in this article, but right now we will discuss the living legend: Lil Wayne.
There was definitely a time when saying that statement would get me blacklisted from being taken seriously by anyone, but I think Wayne is finally at that moment in time where we can give him his flowers while he can still smell them. Wayne has had a career like no other. He has been here since he was about 12 and has been making big hits since then. With those hits, he also has had major influence on hip hop culture. He defined eras of fashion and culture, with the bling-bling era to the long white T-shirt era to the leopard-print skinny jeans era! Wayne manages to keep himself relevant throughout decades.
Wayne’s music is also very influential. The man is credited for starting “mumble rap”, with having a lazy, Mush-Mouth like speech behind a catchy beat. However, he is also an innovator in punchline rap. Everyone loves a good punchline, especially in hip hop, and you’d be surprised how many people are influenced by it. From Childish Gambino to Kendrick Lamar to Migos, the popularization of punchline rap should be credited to Wayne. He definitely can have some misses in his punchlines (ya’ll know what the first sentence in this article is referencing), but when he is on, he is ON. He has some creative, witty, and funny punchlines that you will always enjoy!
Let’s also discuss his prolific dominance in the mid-2000s. Wayne felt like he was on every single track. He stayed in our ears not only by being featured on everything, but by releasing music constantly. Wayne had a mixtape dominance that is unmatched by no other. But then there was Tha Carter III… This is one of the most creative projects you’ll ever hear about. Not only is it creative, but it is BEYOND successful. It actually came at a time of hip hop recession. “… Tha Carter III debuted at No. 1 and sold more than a million copies in the first week. This was a huge and record-breaking achievement for the culture… there was a huge decline regarding hip hop albums commercial successes.” (Terrell, 2019) This is such a monumental album that it started the wave of autotune in hip hop, along with T-Pain.
Now, I can say that Wayne is influential until the hood comes home, but it won’t mean much if I don’t tell you who he’s influenced, now will it?
Lil so-and-so: Yep, every single “Lil” rapper out there has been influenced by the younger Mr. Carter. Why? I mean… it’s kind of obvious… the man’s name is “Lil” Wayne. Because he is so famous, all of these rappers have come with “Lil” in their title to pay tribute to their biggest influence. Side note: yes, Lil Kim and Lil Jon exist, but let’s be real; all these rappers have taken styles from Wayne, why wouldn’t they take that influence from him too?)
Lil Uzi Vert: Now, I wanted to single out Uzi for this reason: out of all the “lil”s, he probably has been influenced the most by Wayne. First, he truly is “Lil” (about 5’4, not saying that Wayne influenced him to be 5’4, I’m just saying that he is… Never mind), he was one of the leaders in the genre of “mumble rap”, as he had his moments when he was unintelligible, but the biggest influence? Uzi is a Rockstar. This is directly influenced by Wayne, who has transcended rap and has become a modern Rockstar for the generation. Uzi has that same appeal, playing with his voice and music, making alternative fashion choices, embracing the weird and being willing to make something a little different even if the subject matter stays the same. Now, there obviously is a difference between Uzi and Wayne, but there is definitely an influence
Young Thug: This should be obvious. The dude had an album called Tha Barter VI, had dreads, started making music that no one could understand, and was signed to Cash Money. You might as well call him Wayne 2.0.
Drake: Remember what I said earlier? Yea, he has the most Top 40 hits, with 100. While Drake has plenty of influences from Kanye (that will definitely be happening), he also has plenty of influences from Wayne. Of course, Wayne signed Drake to YMCMB, but there’s more than that. Every punchline, every auto tune song, every Southern-inspired beat, Wayne is the predecessor. Slight caveat for this: this is mainly for early Drake, as the current Drake has gotten big enough for his own style. However, for current Drake, he took influence from Wayne’s run in 2007 by hopping on every track.
Wayne’s voice is still making an impact to this day. Do you all remember “No Frauds” back in 2017? That was a Nicki Minaj song, but don’t tell me you didn’t get a little bit hype when Wayne came at the end. They don’t make them like him no more, man… he’s a dinosaur. Lil Wayne’s influence continues to impact the mainstream culture, as well as the underground culture. Yes, he has had some duds, but when you make as much music as he did then it makes sense. Regardless, this is a man who will be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his influence on hip hop music and the culture as a whole.
Terrell, Dontaira. 5 ways Lil Wayne redefined the art of hip hop. 27 September 2019. 30 March 2020.
Zellner, Xander. Lil Wayne PassesElvis for theSecond-Most Top 40 Hot 100 Hits of All Time. 11 February 2020. 30 March 2020.