Let’s go back to 2008 for a moment. Heath Ledger was The Joker, and his performance was the greatest thing we had ever seen and would ever see (Jared Leto can eat dick). Our first African-American president was elected. Michael Jackson was still alive for one more year, so we weren’t allowed to stop hating him yet. And, last but not least, Lil Wayne was the biggest rapper on Earth/any other planet.
When it comes to hip-hop, I think the biggest mainstream rappers all have their own “moment,” the period of their career when they’re at their absolute peak, both commercially and artistically. Yikes, I sound like Patrick Bateman playing a CD to one of his victims.
Eminem’s moment was in the early 2000s, with The Marshall Mathers LP, The Eminem Show, 8 Mile, and him being considered Satan by millions of suburban moms. With Drake, it was the early 2010s, with Take Care, Nothing Was The Same, and him providing Instagram captions for thots across the globe. With 2pac and Biggie, it was the late 90s before they both faked their deaths and moved to Wyoming. And with Iggy Azalea, it was never.
With Lil Wayne, it was in the late 2000s. Weezy has become a punchline these past few years, though. People use him as their go-to example when they complain about modern rappers sucking. But let’s step into my time machine and remember when Lil Wayne was a god among men (even though his voice always sounded like he was about to cry for some reason).
Back in the day, Lil Wayne had a verse on EVERY song. You couldn’t even sing “Happy Birthday” to your grandmother without him popping up and spitting a few bars. If you were in high school in the late 2000s, you can’t pretend that you didn’t love Lil Wayne. We were all fans. He was a monstrous 5’5″ man walking among mere mortals. His nonstop barrage of corny rhymes, metaphors, and similes blew our minds. He was funny, he was fun, and he was a weirdo. He was a king with tattooed eyeballs and the voice of a gay bullfrog.
The culmination of his supercrazyawesomeness was in 2008, when he released Tha Carter III. Not only was it his best album, it’s one of the greatest modern rap albums to ever invade our headphones. We all blasted “A Milli” and sang along at the top of our lungs while he rapped his uniquely smart lyrics over a bizarre beat. We cranked our car radios up whenever “Lollipop,” “Got Money,” or “Mrs. Officer” came on, which was pretty much every 11 seconds.
In 2008, Wayne wasn’t just a rapper; he was a phenomenon. He was larger than life. He was everywhere, and he was unavoidable. He was basically the HPV of music.
But after that, his star slowly faded. Now, it’s a decade later and Lil Wayne is all but a pile of dust tossed in our face by the ghost of hip-hop’s past. The infamous “Tha Carter V” seems like it’ll never come out, and his proteges Drake and Nicki Minaj are way more famous than him. But let’s never forget when Lil Wayne was an American treasure. Don’t act like you didn’t love Lil Wayne. Everyone loved him; he was our Raymond.
So please, bow down and show some respect. 2008 Lil Wayne was a fuckin’ superhero, and we were blessed to breathe the same air as him..
Image via Shutterstock