Today, Google turns 12 and Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr. — aka Young Money founder Lil Wayne — celebrates his 28th birthday. While he may be spending time in the clink instead of out partying this year, his sentence is up in a little over a month, and he still managed to release an album today. In other words, the age of Weezy is about to begin all over again. As such, we’ve put together a list of 28 things you might not know about the prolific rapper. Check it out, after the jump.
1. When he was 8, Lil Wayne formed his first crew, K.W.A. — Kids With Attitude. He signed his first recording contract when he was 11 years old, as part of the rapping duo “The B.G.’z.”
2. Lil Wayne survived two shootings. The first was self-inflicted — a wound to the chest when he was playing with a gun in the mirror at the age of 12. The second was from a disgruntled groupie refused entry onto his tour bus in 2001.
3. In 1997, Lil Wayne joined the hip-hop group Hot Boys, which included rappers Juvenile, B.G.’z collaborator B.G., and Turk. Their album, Guerrilla Warfare, nabbed the number one spot on the hip-hop Billboard chart in 1998.
4. When he was 12, Lil Wayne played the part of the Tin Man in a school production of The Wiz.
5. Lil Wayne has four children, Neal, Samuel Lenox Ari, Dwayne III, and Reginae. His oldest, Reginae, was born when Wayne was just 15 years old.
6. Wayne dropped the “D” from his name because, as he told Katie Couric, “I’m a junior and my father is living and he’s not in my life and he’s never been in my life. So I don’t want to be Dwayne, I’d rather be Wayne.”
7. Wayne is a voracious sports fan, and has been blogging off and on for ESPN since 2008. He also appeared with some frequency on ESPN to pontificate about football and basketball. He even has an ESPN tattoo on his forearm.
8. Though he’s been featured on songs by everyone from T.I. to Jay-Z to a bizarre collaboration with Weezer, Wayne’s all-time favorite cameo is in the Destiny’s Child song “Soldier.”
9. For Lil Wayne’s birthday last year, his friend Birdman presented him with a cake layered with diamonds.
10. Lil Wayne started bowling when he was 16, and still loves to hit the lanes with one of his four custom-made bowling balls.
11. President Barack Obama has referenced Wayne a couple times in speeches. On his campaign trail, Obama encouraged kids to stay is school because “You are probably not that good a rapper. Maybe you are the next Lil Wayne, but probably not, in which case you need to stay in school.”
12. In 2009, Wayne presented Letterman’s Top 10 on “Reasons I’m Looking forward to the Grammy awards.” Number 8: “I’m nominated in the category of ‘Lillest Wayne.'”
13. When Weezy was trying to sell his apartment in Miami last year, his real estate agents were frustrated by the constant smell of marijuana and his refusal to let anyone in until after he woke up in the late afternoon. “He had a perfectly organized closet of crisp T-shirts on hangers, neatly stacked piles of XXL magazine, and a fully stocked bar featuring multiple bottles of Hennessy Black,” noted a New York Post tipster.
14. Wayne uses marijuana to treat his migraines — as well as, presumably, hiccups, blisters, and everyday aches and pains. His most famous addiction is to purple drank, a mixture of Hawaiian Punch and codeine syrup.
15. Wayne is currently serving out a year sentence on Rikers Island for weapons possession, though he’s being released four months early. In prison, the rapper has gotten serious VIP treatment, like food brought in from restaurants by the guards and things like headphones and an MP3 player/watch that was recently confiscated.
16. Fans started a website, Weezy Thanx You, that publishes letters Wayne writes to his fans from jail. He exhaustively thanks people for their fan mail — his address in jail is up on the site — as well as giving updates on the hard knock life, though it doesn’t exactly sound like Oz. Sample: “Last night, I kicked ass in UNO! Anyway, that’s neither here nor there. Just thought I’d let y’all know. Gotta stay hydrated.”
17. In the video for “I am Not a Human Being,” one of the tracks off his just-released album, Lil Wayne shows off glow-in-the-dark tattoos. That’s right: tattoos with blacklight ink. The stars on his face and lipstick print on his neck are permanent, and permanently luminescent.
18. Wayne’s whole body is covered in tattoos. There’s a Rolls Royce symbol on his bicep, a bird for his friend Birdman, and “M.O.B.,” which stands for “Money Over Bitches.” He also has a smiley face on his inner lip, a map of Louisiana on his back, and “Fear” and “God” over each of his eyelids.
19. Wayne’s sentencing was delayed last year so that the rapper could undergo dental surgery. He had eight root canals in one sitting, as well as repairing parts of his diamond grill.
20. Like any good multi-millionaire rapper, Lil Wayne has a ridiculously expensive mansion. Check out the vintage model car collection and many Goodfellas posters in his episode of MTV: Cribs:
21. For his 25th birthday, Lil Wayne threw a black and white party on a yacht, complete with roulette tables and pool and, of course, a cake shaped like a Rolls Royce phantom.
22. Wayne’s favorite rock star is Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain. As the rapper said to a Rolling Stone reporter: “He was a rebel — he didn’t give a fuck. That’s me.”
23. Caltech Ph.D student Virgil Griffith compiled a study to see which musicians were listened to by college students, judging “which music makes you dumb” based on their SAT scores. Lil Wayne came in on the bottom of the intelligence chart. (But Counting Crows were near the top, so take it with a grain of salt.)
24. In 2008, Lil Wayne became the first major hip-hop artist to play at the Country Music Awards, performing with Kid Rock. Weirdly, he didn’t rap at all — just played guitar along with the band.
25. Wayne’s Young Money crew includes Drake and rapper Nick Minaj. Wayne calls Drake from jail fairly often — a few times a week. He has also advised Drake against getting a tattoo, telling him: “Whatever, man, whatever you do, do not get no tattoos never in your life. They gonna think you got it because you came around me.”
26. In April, a female guard at Rikers was fired for spending too much time trying hang out with Lil Wayne.
27. After Katrina hit his hometown of New Orleans, Wayne donated $300,000 to rebuild the playground in Harrell Park that he used as a child.
28. Though Wayne is incredibly prolific, he never writes any of his verses down, afraid that they’ll be published and plundered like Kurt Cobain’s journals.