In March 2010, Lil Wayne began his eight-month prison term on New York’s infamous Rikers Island. The New Orleans rapper, then 27, had pled guilty to attempted possession of a weapon, stemming from a .40-caliber semi-automatic pistol that was found on his tour bus in the Big Apple three years prior.
This wasn’t quite Lil Wayne in his Tha Carter III-going-Platinum-first-week prime, but Weezy was still one of the biggest rappers on the planet at that time, thanks to his rock-rap experiment Rebirth, his “Drop the World” collaboration with Eminem and the emergence of his Young Money crew, lead by Drake and Nicki Minaj. Needless to say, eight months behind bars was an unwanted interruption.
Last week, Lil Wayne released Gone ’Til November, a published version of the journal he kept while on Rikers Island. “I wanted my fans to have something from me while they continue to be ever so amazing and patient,” Wayne writes, referencing his ongoing battle with Birdman and Cash Money. More importantly, the book takes us inside the daily life—and mindset—of a famous rapper forced to swap luxury for lockdown.
Most days were more or less the same for Lil Wayne: morning coffee, phone calls, read mail, write rhymes, push-ups, sleep. It was by no means an easy eight months, but Wayne settled in quickly, made a few friends and enjoyed the perks of having fine female fans with Polaroid cameras. And occasionally, something crazy/hilarious/disturbing — sometimes a combination of all three — would happen just to break up the monotony.
Here are 10 things we learned from Gone ’Til November.
1. He found out Drake slept with his girl:
I woke up still feeling fucked up about the fucked-up day that I had. Hell is what it was! I’m used to arguing with my girl on a daily basis…but finding out that she fucked Drake was the absolute worst thing I could’ve found out.
As a man, honestly that shit hurt…and not because it was Drake. It could’ve been any man and it would’ve hurt the same. She said it happened way before we got together, but she just never told me. When Drizzy came to see me, he was like, “Yeah, it’s true…Don’t fuck with her like that ’cause I did fuck her.” Damn! At that point, it didn’t matter to me when it fucking happened…because the fucking thing happened.
This is the type of shit that a man never wants to find out while he’s locked up.
2. He officiated a same-sex marriage:
Coach said that he wanted to marry Dominicano and put on a white sheet like it was a dress. Niggas were pushing Dominicano up to our makeshift altar. He didn’t know what was going on and was like, “What are you doing, man? What are you doing, man?” When they got him to the back, I married them.
I got the Bible and I’m like, we gathered here today. Dominicano didn’t know what the fuck was going on until I got to the “I now pronounce you.” He was like, “fuck that, man. No, fuck that, man.” We threw rice and shit. We hung tissue paper up around the dayroom. We wrote “Coach and Dominicano” all around the dayroom. We even had a reception.
3. He thought about becoming a Christian rapper:
This letter that I got from a church made me think a lot. They were making some real good points about how if I’m going to be rapping, I should be rapping for the Lord ’cause that’s the reason why I’m here.…It really did have me considering that maybe I am going down the wrong road. It’s not like I thought I should stop rapping or no shit like that, but more if I was rapping for the Lord, I’d probably be the coldest nigga on the planet…It would be way bigger than having a million motherfuckas walking around with tattoos every-damn-where with dreadlocks or saying shit like “bling-bling.” I would truly have the power of having pop culture turn to God. I would have straight killers in church every Sunday.
4. He was sent to the hole for sneaking in an mp3 watch loaded with Prince, Keith Sweat and Anita Baker on it:
I had my people get me this mp3 player watch and told them to load that bitch up with all the music that I’ve ever recorded before coming in this bitch, and more important, the music that I love to listen to, like Anita Baker, Prince, and Keith Sweat.
I just have a little bit more than a month to go. I guess I didn’t stay low enough, because they came and moved me to the hole. They told me some bullshit about that since I’m a high-profile inmate, I’m being watch and any special privileges that they would’ve given me would’ve been their ass. And it didn’t help that the media found out and reported that I got popped for having an mp3. I’m probably going to have to do my last thirty days in the hole.
5. Diddy shut the whole place down when he came to visit (Kanye West and Chris Paul also visited him):
Diddy kept his word and visited me today. It was total chaos! Every Captain in the building was down there! Even the deps and the warden! Everyone just wanted to see him. It was kind of aggravating, but it is what it is.
I have to give props where props are due…big shout-outs to Diddy, Chris Paul, and Kanye for coming to see me…especially with their schedules. I know that they had to go through some extra shit because you just can’t walk in this bitch and say, “I want to see Dwayne Carter.”
6. He worked as a Suicide Prevention Aide for a while, but suicide creeped him out:
I ended up thinking about all types of shit. One thing that stood out was how I’ve never been this close to suicide before. It’s truly a new reality for me. I was actually there when this kid that was in mental isolation tried to hang up. What’s really fucked up is that it all could’ve been prevented if the COs would’ve just brought him some water…And because I was in jail, I was like, Damn, that nigga is crazy…Oh well, what we eating tonight? Jail desensitizes a lot of things. The reality in here is so harsh. I will never understand how anyone could think that this shit is cool.
7. He recorded his verse on the remix to Drake’s “Light It Up” over the prison phone:
Tez was like, “We want you to be on Drake’s remix.” I was like, “How?” And he was like, “We’re going to do it over the phone.” I’m like, “Shit…I don’t have anything else better to do up in this bitch, so let’s go!” After I finished running it, I was kinda nervous on how it was going to be received. This was the first time that I haven’t been in the studio to hear the playback before a song goes out.
I can’t front, I’m really bugging out knowing that I can record a song AND it would be on the radio and everything. My main thought is, Damn … if I can do this, I’m about to go to the studio every night. I told Tez to have the mic on standby from here on out.
8. He almost got into a fight on the yard:
I got into an argument on the yard and went straight gorilla. I was as un–Lil Wayne as I could get. I was in a nigga face like, Fuck you, nigga, what’s good? Niggas had to hold me back and shit. That’s when this dude was like, “You go home to something nobody else in here goes home to…dude, leave that nigga alone. He’ll be back in this bitch next month. You don’t want to be back in this bitch, man. Don’t act that way. Go home, bro. You’re a millionaire. You’re a superstar. So act like one.” I couldn’t argue with that shit…damn…and yeah!
9. He made $20 million while in jail:
As soon as I got back to the tier, this CO started saying, “The smartest black man I know…that’s the smartest black man I know right there.” The Captain asked him why he was messing with me. He said, “Because that man made twenty million dollars from Cell 23 in three months. That’s the smartest black man I know.” Obviously I was trying to keep it on the low up in here, but Forbes fucking blew my cover and announced that in three months I had just made twenty million sitting in jail.
10. He felt jail changed his perspective on life and made him more creative:
Jail has changed me forever. The greatest positive that I take away from this bullshit is that I was able to tap into a depth of creativity that I never knew was in me. I’ve always thought that I needed things like being high with my niggas, a Bugatti, a dope-ass crib, or some big-booty bitches to be creative. But once all that was taken away from me, my creativity was put to the ultimate test. And I passed that shit like a mothafucka! I’ve never felt more creative in my life!
By Andy James. You can follow him on Twitter.
Photo Credit: Instagram