When Lil Wayne was the best rapper alive, he was in more demand than anybody. Ever.
Every artist and their label believed a Weezy guest feature on their single would lead to a #1 spot on Billboard and Wayne was more than happy to oblige while in the prime of his career.
Nobody at the time recorded new material like Wayne either. He began working on Tha Carter III in 2006, but the album didn’t end up in stores until June 9, 2008. In between those two bookends, mixtape releases, guest 16's and leaked loosies came in abundances. Studio engineers even sold off incomplete songs to The Empire, who as a result became one of the most infamous DJs of all-time.
Tha Drought Is Over series and several other tapes during that time frame cemented Wayne as one of the best, as if the features weren’t enough. Records like “Ask These Hoes,” “I Feel Like Dying” and “Pussy, Money, Weed” have been regarded as some of Wayne’s best songs. The list stretches so deep and is so overwhelming that some of his greatest material drowned in the flood. Leaks became so commonplace that countless quality recordings unintentionally were overlooked and under-appreciated.
There are many a forgotten gem from Tha Carter III leak era, some you may have never heard, and many you've likely forgotten about but will remember fondly. So turn down “Prostitute” and turn up this list of songs. All hail, '07 Lil Wayne.
"Best Thing Yet" (prod. By Deezle)
Lil Wayne had big plans for “Best Thing Yet.” Big as in Common and Kanye West on a remix. That line-up on a track could’ve been amazing, especially since Common has yet to collab with the rapper eater. As with many of his scheduled plans, leaks prevented any further promotion of the song.
Deezle, who has worked with Wayne for years, laced the YM head honcho with an extremely soulful tune that samples Anita Baker’s “You’re The Best Thing Yet.” Other than "Best Thing Yet," Beanie Sigel’s “Die” is the only other notable record to sample Baker's record.
One line that stood out in particular was a double entendre. He spits, “How do I live, when I'm as deadly as I am?” In 2007, Wayne had a huge codeine addiction that often spilled into his music. Sometimes, this would lead to “Me & My Drank” and other times we'd be treated to introspective, life-questioning bars.
"Dear Anne" (Prod. By Swizz Beatz)
Originally intended for Tha Carter III (and IV), “Dear Anne” was doomed from the moment it leaked. Upon it's initial release the track was labeled as a “Stan Pt. 2.” While it’s not hard to hear where people would draw that comparison, placing it next to Eminen's classic forced the record to live up to some unreal expectations.
Wayne loved Swizz Beatz’s production and the idea of penning a letter to his #1 fan, but he didn't like his own execution. He didn't believe he was able to make the vision in his head come to life. Mack Maine and Cortez (his manager) disagreed with him, but ultimately Wayne made the call on what was placed his album.
“That was actually a record for Tha Carter III that just leaked,” Wayne later told XXL. “It leaked out, and everybody’s thinking that it’s going on Tha Carter IV ’cause I was actually gonna put it on Tha Carter IV. But I had been listening to it and didn’t like it. I don’t like it ’cause the song, all the verses are old. And me being a perfectionist, I hate going with old verses.”
"How Can Something"
“Something You Forgot” was about Nivea. “How Can Something,” on the other hand, went even further back to Lil Wayne’s first love, Toya, and was honest about the relationship issues the pair had. Surprisingly, this record didn’t take off as much as the former despite being in the same vein.
Jermaine Jackson’s “Do What You Do” set the stage for the simple yet powerful hook. The first verse, sans the first couple lines, talk about his daughter, Reginae. Next, he reminisces on walking down the aisle with Toya, but a few lines later highlight how she took him to court for child support and his heart being broken. It’s one of those rare moments where Wayne drops his guard and is just completely honest with his fans.
There’s also a reference to Nivea, who at the time was with The-Dream. “And my other girl got a new baby daddy now / And retaliation hurts, she getting married now,” he spits. Any time Wayne lets you onto his emotional rollercoaster, it’s a memorable ride.
"Outstanding (The Flyest)" (prod. By Cipha Sounds & Solitair)
I remember the anticipation behind this record. The Empire was set to drop Southern Slang 6 sometime in late July, early August 2007, and the tracklist read: 2. Lil Wayne - Outstanding (prod. By Dr. Dre). PRODUCED. BY. DR. DRE. This is years before he claimed to have 90 unreleased songs with the Compton legend. This news came completely out of left field. Many probably still believe that Dre made the beat for “Outstanding,” however, that isn't the case.
The geniuses behind the song's production were Cipha Sounds and Solitair. The beat’s origin spawned almost a year prior, when the two had hoped to get it to another Mr. Carter. “Maybe I could get this Jay,” Cipha says in a making of the beat video. “But since I’m such a b*tch I didn’t even let him hear it.”
The finished product, which wound up on Solitair’s own album, filled in what the leak missed, a hook. It also became “The Flyest” instead of “Outstanding.” There was never any explanation for how it got into the hands of The Empire or if Wayne himself planned to use the song on Tha Carter III.
Never Get It (prod. By David Banner)
If you didn’t know any better, you might suspect Lil Wayne had one producer who was supplying him all these sample-heavy beats. Besides shouting out a beatmaker, there was nothing to distinguish one song from another production-wise. Each record revolved around an old soul samples that seemed like a fortune in sample clearance waiting to happen. Here, David Banner took Hall & Oates’ “Wait For Me” and flipped it into what would become “Never Get It.”
Lyrically, Weezy delivered creative lines like, “Could’ve been a killer but Cash Money saved me / Remember I was a little but the Cash Money made me,” which are now particularly memorable in light of his recent problems with Birdman, and he also makes references to “Prostitute” and another Banner-produced track, “Pussy Monster,” which didn’t have a CDQ version at the time it was released.
"That’s My Nigga"
Long before Drake was taking D.R.A.M.'s “Cha Cha” and flipping it into “Hotline Bling,” he was doing the same thing to Wayne. Listen to “That’s My Nigga” and you’ll immediately notice a similarity between the flow Weezy delivers and what Drake executed on “Best I Ever Had.” Certainly, “That’s My Nigga” isn’t the best of the C3 leaks, but it provides historical context to what Drake recently told FADER:
“You know, like in Jamaica, you’ll have a riddim and it’s like, everyone has to do a song on that. Imagine that in rap, or imagine that in R&B. Imagine if we got one beat and every single person—me, this guy, this guy, all these guys—had to do a song on that one beat. So sometimes I’ll pick a beat that’s a bit, like, sunnier, I guess is the word you used, than usual, and I just try my hand at it. And that’s kind of what ‘Hotline Bling’ was. And I loved it. It’s cool. I’ve been excited by that sort of creative process.”
Did Wayne ever notice Drake's apparent longtime idelogy? Since he was recording so much, maybe he didn’t. Even if he did, though, he wouldn’t have cared since Drake was his own artist. A simple leak inspired the first big hit record for Drake’s career. Crazy.
"World of Fantasy"
The Empire was once cool with an up-and-coming rapper out of Houston named Question?, a former DJBooth favorite, and that is where this record's buzz was birthed. By no means was this an official collaboration, but the original leaked version featured only one verse from Lil Wayne and extra beat time. Why not turn it into a full song, right? Believing Wayne’s starpower would help to carry the track all around the internet, Question? went in on the same level of depth and painted vivid scenes.
Most people know this Lil Wayne verse as the finale on “Playing With Fire,” which did make Tha Carter III until sample issues later forced the track to be swapped out for “Pussy Monster.” However, I’ve always felt the verse fit better into “World Of Fantasy.” It was one of the best portrayals of imagery regarding his life before rap and dealing with his mother’s exes. How can you not get chills from these lines?
“Momma named Cita, I love you Cita / Member when your pussy’s second husband used to beat you?/ Remember when I went into the kitchen got the cleaver? / He ain't give a fuck, I ain't give a fuck either/ He could see the devil, see the devil in my features / You could smell the ether, you can see Cita/ You can see the Cita, see the Cita in my features”
With over 70-plus leaks, these highlighted selections just scratch the surface. Weezy F. Baby recorded an endless amount of material. If he wanted to pull a Nas and do a Lost Tapes album he’d still have unreleased material we've never heard. A song like “Money, Drugs, Bitches, Liquor” with Curren$y has never seen the light of day in CDQ form, and there’s a snippet of “Dinnertime” floating around that is rumored to date back to the C3 days.
Over the years, Lil Wayne leaks have become less common. He and his squad got smarter, keeping a tighter grasp on the content they were creating, which makes 2007-08 a special moment in not just his career, but in hip-hop history.