10:00 A MILLI A MILLI A MILLI A MILLI…V.O. (Voice Over): “He’s the reigning king of hip-hop and has nothing to hide…” We see Wayne onstage, half-obscured by smoke and fire, shirtless — showing off his slim, rippling, tatted bod; he raps low-voiced, hunched like a 3rd down running back eager for action. His Rapunzel dreadlocks sway.
10:01 V.O. summarizes the TV-perfect story arc of Wayne’s life/this episode of Behind The Music. The arc is similar to other Behind The Music story arcs, with the notable exception that Wayne is at the peak of his career, not the peak of some flailing attempted comeback. What’s coming: shooting, salvation in music, invention of bling bling, solo path to stardom, tattooed face, Hurricane Katrina, drugs, fame, grammies, eyelid tattoos, Obama shout-out….”This is Lil Wanye Behind The Music…”
10:03 Stock footage of ambulances and urban streets. Cut to crazed fans cheering Wayne’s entrance to the stage. LW: “I always say my city is my drive. Cause when you from New Orleans you gotta do something.” Cue Wayne’s baby photo, which would later — with the addition of photo-shopped face tattoos — become he cover to Wayne’s amazing breakout album Tha Carter III. He was a rather adorable child.
10:05 Cut back to stock footage of ambulances and urban streets. We hear about Wayne’s father beating Wayne’s mother.
10:06 Cute pics of Wayne wearing a plaid suit. For the record, no face tattoos or grillz yet. He was a star student in his school’s gifted program. “I never understood why people think that school is hard. The teacher tells you to figure something out that’s actually written down. I don’t get it.” At the age of nine he starts rapping. We see footage of people dancing lasciviously at block parties.
10:07 Meanwhile Cash Money records was getting started. Cut to photos of founders Brian “Baby” Williams and Slim Williams looking all nineties in bandannas and oversized leather racing jackets. Cut to same dudes now, talking about how they discovered Wayne. Baby Williams: “Here’s this little shortie with a pick in his hair.” We hear a sample of 9 year-old Wayne’s rapping. It’s pretty good. Williams: “As he’s rapping to me, I’m saying ‘Look at this little man. Look at him.'” Young Wayne is signed to Cash Money Records.
It occurs to me now that Cash Money Records is an overly a specific name. Why not simply Cash Records or Money Records? Perhaps it is important that we understand the tax-free status of said money.
11:09 LW: “I lost my virginity when I was eleven.”
11:09 Eleven was also the age that Wayne first tried marijuana and cocaine.
10:10 At twelve, Wayne accidentally shoots himself in the chest. For some reason VH1 has decided to illustrate this anecdote by showing a Polaroid photo of a telephone off it’s hook, then cutting to a close-up image of a phone-receiver covered in blood.
10:16 Stock footage of neon-blue, dripping IV bags (are they filled with Windex?), and shimmering silver surgical equipment. Wayne is on life support. We see a display of HallmarkGet Well Soon cards. Weezy recovers.
10:18 Wayne’s self-shooting got him love from the ladies and a bad boy image. The same thing got Plaxico Burress got two years in prison.
10:19 Sun shines on a grave. Wayne’s stepfather, a hustler called Reginald “Rabbit” McDonald, has been killed. Cue blurry image of Jesus on the cross.
10:20 At fourteen, Wayne drops out of school to really pursue his music career. He now has shining, expensive teeth. This seminal cosmetic enhancement goes un-remarked.
10:21 Weezy joins a group called the Hot Boys. If this group existed now they would be called, the Hot Boys (no homo).
Wayne has a daughter at sixteen. “I was there. I saw the nasty ass sh*t. It was nasty man. I saw. But I was there; it was beautiful.”
10:22 “The Hot Boys is at once this gangsta rap version of version of a boy band, and it’s also this brilliant parody of a boy band.” Kelefa Sanneh – staff writer, The New Yorker. Apparently Sasha Frere-Jones wasn’t available.
10:23 Wayne coins the term “Bling.” Baby Williams: “At that time, if we’d a knew better, I woulda copyrighted that sh*t.”
10:23 Weezy becomes a millionaire. He gives the money to his mom.
10:29 Wayne “Faces a moment of truth in 2002.” Convinced that he needs to stop writing down his lyrics, and instead spit them straight from the dome like his hero Jay-Z, he decides to record every lyric he has ever written in one recording session. He explains it thusly: “The only way I won’t be able to rap anything I’ve written again is to record everything I’ve written all at once, so therefore I have no more written material.”
10:30 V.O: “Wayne emerged from the booth with 10,000 bars — one 35-minute uninterrupted song.” We see a VHS tape labeled “10,00 bars” being ejected from a VCR. This makes no sense whatsoever. Unless there was a video of Wayne recording the 10,000 bars. But then why aren’t we seeing clips from the video?
10:30 Interesting logic from our man Weezy: “When I stopped writing I noticed that everything was real now. I can’t speak about nothing but what’s real, because I can’t write nothing down.”
10:32 Wayne marries his baby-momma and moves to Miami. “I felt all the feelings I should have felt while I was watching her give birth.”
10:33 Katrina hits but Wayne is gone, and — initially — not particularly affected by the storm. “At that time nothing affected me. I lost some cars and a house. $300,000 house — I got $300,000 chains on, you gotta understand.”
To clarify, Wayne is asking us to understand why he didn’t care about losing his house, not why he wears $300,00 chains.
10:34 Then Wayne finds out the extent of the storm’s damage. People he knows died. The tragedy hits home. Wayne does good things with the money he’s made, like helping to rebuild parks. He then writes a song called “Georgia Bush” in which he samples Ray Charles. We hear a clip of this song over a montage of black and white stills showing the wake of Katrina’s devastation.
10:41 Wayne pronounces himself the best rapper alive. Cue montage of Wayne throwing stacks of cash, and a close-up of Wayne’s face tattoos, of which there are many now.
10:42 Wayne addicted to cough syrup. More stock footage of medical equipment. This is what is known as a motif. People are concerned. The New Yorker dude explains that many great southern rap albums were inspired by syrup, but they’ve also killed lots of rappers. Wayne “I don’t care if it was heroin in my cup. It’s my cup. F**k you.”
10:47 Our man is arrested for weapons possession.
10:50 Tha Carter III blows up. In a case we don’t know what this means, we are shown a photo of the billboard records chart with Wayne at number 1. Wayne’s name is circled.
10:51 The mainstream media comes calling. Cut to Wayne on the Jimmy Kimmell show, and bowling with Katie Couric.
10:52 Obama makes a Lil Wayne reference in a speech. Baby Williams: “When Obama said that, we just looked at each other like, damn, we’re gonna get in that White House.” Hmmm…Does he mean that metaphorically? That they’re going to go on a White House tour? Because I’m pretty sure Wayne is not planning to run for president in 2012.
10:56 More stuff about Wayne being famous now. He wins four Grammies.
10:59 “I’m a real artist. You give me a canvas, I’ll give you art.” True dat.
Find some bonus interview excerpts from the episode below.
How he developed his stage entrance with the Hot Boyz
His father dying