Lil Wayne?s meteoric rise began in the final weeks of 2005, as the New Orleans native dropped Tha Carter II (at the time, his best studio album) and The Dedication (the first mixtape in his career-defining, six-part Dedication/Gangsta Grillz series). From then on, it was Wayne?s world. Over the next three years, he released 12 projects, including: nine official mixtapes, an EP of songs recorded during Tha Carter III sessions (The Leak), a collaborative album with Birdman (Like Father, Like Son), and his sixth studio album (Tha Carter III).
The 20 Best Lil? Wayne Mixtape Tracks
A few months ago, someone tried to tell me that Kendrick Lamar was superior to Lil? Wayne. I would?ve found their?
Lil Wayne cemented his status as the ?Best Rapper Alive? with a heat-check unlike anything Hip-hop has ever seen. During the mid-aughts, you couldn?t turn on the radio without hearing the free-flowing, metaphorical wordplay of Weezy. The ?Lil Wayne Midas Touch? was real ? from 2006?10, he featured on 24 platinum-selling singles. In honor of his unprecedented ability to steal the scene with every feature, here are the 15 Best Lil Wayne guest verses?
If ?Go DJ? was the moment Lil Wayne entered the mainstream, then his guest verse on ?Soldier? is when he solidified his potential as a crossover star. In an interview at SXSW in 2014, exactly ten years since the song was a radio staple, Wayne looked back on the impact it had on his career. ?That set me off, right there? that song right there, that verse, them little eight bars right there ? ? Lil Wayne told the SXSW crowd, laughing in disbelief, ?That got me there, boy.?
14. Rick Ross? ?Luxury Tax? (2008)
During the song?s cold-open, Wayne alludes to his newfound sole-occupancy of hip-hop?s throne ? ?Even I look in the mirror like, is it you? Then I say, I must be the hottest if it isn?t you.? He didn?t have to be so modest; by the time ?Luxury Tax? was released in March 2008, everyone knew he was the ?Best Rapper Alive? was. When the triumphant beat drops, Wayne saunters over the J.U.S.T.I.C.E League?s production, making it obvious that, even though his magnum opus, Tha Carter III, was still three months out, he knew the rap game was his.
13. Akon?s ?I?m So Paid? (2008)
Absent on ?I?m So Paid? are the usual tropes that stand out on Lil Wayne?s greatest verses: clever metaphors, humorous puns, and double entendres. Instead, Wayne shines by way of his charisma, which, at that time, was unmatched by his peers. Released in the fall of 2008, right at the twilight of Tha Carter III?s cultural dominance, ?I?m So Paid? found Lil Wayne at his most confident. He opened his verse rapping, ?How do I feel bitch? I feel undefeated?, with an energy that thumped through your iPod video; in that moment, it was obvious that, while Wayne?s run atop hip-hop was far from over, he?d never reach these heights again.
12. Solange?s ?Mad?(2016)
In the mid-to-late-aughts, Lil Wayne had earned his reputation as the perfect Pop/R&B guest rapper by appearing on number-one hits such as: Destiny?s Child?s ?Soldier?, Chris Brown?s ?Gimme That?, Lloyd?s ?You?, and Wyclef?s ?Sweetest Girl?. By 2016, Wayne was in Year 6 of his post-prison swoon; although he?d shown flashes of brilliance in recent years, they frequently went unnoticed. ?Mad?, a standout from Solange?s critically acclaimed third studio album, A Seat at the Table, gave Wayne the perfect platform to remind us why we fell in love with him in the first place. Backed by Solange?s angelic vocals and lush piano keys, Wayne was as vulnerable as ever, rapping,
?I used to rock hand-me-downs and now I rock standing crowds/But it?s hard when you only got fans around and no fam around/And if they are, then their hands are out and they pointing fingers/When I wear this fucking burden on my back, Like a motherfucking cap and gown.?
11. Drake?s ?Miss Me? (2010)
In 2010, Wayne headed off to prison for eight months, but not before laying down a bunch of verses to hold us over, including the most important one: his feature on Drake?s debut album. It felt like a torch-passing moment with Wayne, the best-rapper-alive, heading off to Rikers just as Drake was ascending into hip-hop?s upper-echelon. And so, it was only fitting that Wayne, perhaps for the last time, upstaged his protege, submitting one of the best verses of his career on ?Miss Me.? After establishing himself as the King of hilarious punchlines, he filled his verse with some of the best in his career, including: ?Turn you to a vegetable like you lying in soup?, ?Yes I am Weezy but I ain?t asthmatic.?, and ?I walk light, so I don?t piss the ground off.?
Every Drake and Lil? Wayne Collaboration, Ranked
Lil? Wayne and Drake reunited for a cut off of Dedication 6 with a freestyle over Jay-Z?s ?Family Feud.? It marks the?
10. Swizz Beatz? ?It?s Me Bitches? (2007)
Lil Wayne shines best in pure chaos. Beats filled with uninterrupted DJ tags, that would drown out most rappers, are Weezy?s playground of choice. On ?It?s Me Bitches?, Wayne shines over Swizz Beatz? disorderly production, rapping like a man possessed. After spending the first 30 seconds of his verse rapping in a Jamaican accent, Wayne switches to his high-octane flow for the next 45, before ending his verse by spitting, ?Voulez-vous voucher avec moi bitches,? in what I assume is the most aggressive way the French pick-up line had ever been uttered.
9. Rick Ross? ?Maybach Music? (2009)
Rick Ross released ?Maybach Music 2?, the standout single from his third album, Deeper Than Rap, on May 19, 2009. One year removed from the release of his magnum opus, Tha Carter III, Lil Wayne was at his absolute apex, still maintaining his grip on the crown by way of stellar guest spots. ?Maybach Music 2? wasn?t just the best he?d sounded since Carter III, but one of the greatest verses he?d ever laid on wax. Alongside hip-hop?s next-biggest-rapper, Kanye, Rick Ross (who had recently ascended to throne-snatching-territory), and T-Pain (the King of Hooks), Wayne stole the show, with a verse that reminded us how good he was when operating from a casual, confident place.
8. Fat Joe?s ?Make It Rain? (2006)
Lil Wayne?s hook was so good, so iconic, that no one remembers he contributed an eight-bar verse on the remix. While Wayne?s delivery made the chorus catchy, its genius was in what it was saying; suddenly, the act of throwing dollar bills in a strip club could be explained in one phrase, as ?making it rain? became rooted in the pop-culture vernacular. That aside, the track?s legacy is that it represented a definitive turning point in Wayne?s career. Although he already had two platinum-certified singles under his belt ? ?Go DJ? and ?Fireman? ? ?Make It Rain? serves as the moment he became a household name.
7. Drake?s ?I?m Goin? In? (2009)
On ?I?m Goin? In?, Drake learned why you never give Wayne the opening bars. Batting lead-off, Wayne matched the energy of Needlz? thumping percussion, reminding the rest of hip-hop that, when inspired, no one can go toe-to-toe with Weezy. The song, released in September 2009, came one month before Wayne?s No Ceilings, so it makes sense that Wayne, presumably knee-deep in recording what would be the last classic project of his career, came off so hungry on Drake?s single. Through Drake, he was witnessing rap?s pecking-order change before his eyes; accordingly, he made sure, while he was still peaking, to make everyone remember that the ?best rapper alive? title-belt wasn?t yet up for grabs.
6. Outkast?s ?Hollywood Divorce? (2006)
On ?Georgia?Bush?, the closing track off his 2006 mixtape, Dedication 2, Lil Wayne submitted his first-person account of Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent negligence that left his hometown reeling. A few months later, he used his verse on ?Hollywood Divorce? to re-visit the topic, this time for a mainstream audience. For casual hip-hop fans, it was the first time they realized Wayne was more than just a ?rappity rapper?; he was good enough to match up with the most conscious MCs as well.
5. Lloyd?s ?You? (2006)
While ?Soldier? and ?Make It Rain? introduced Lil Wayne to a mainstream audience, ?You? took the up-and-coming rapper to new heights. Shortly after its release, the track reached number one on Billboard?s Hot R&B/Hip-hop Songs chart (Wayne?s first time accomplishing the feat) making him a true crossover star. Lloyd?s seductive singing, backed by the lushy R&B beat, gave Wayne a stage to showcase his pop-star sensibilities; he delivered. After opening the song with a quick, six-bar verse, Wayne submitted an eight-bar curtain-call. More than anything, ?You? helped Wayne earn his stripes in the pop music world, single-handedly paving the way for his subsequent collaborations with Usher, Akon, T-Pain, Wyclef, and Enrique.
4. Chance the Rapper?s ?No Problem? (2016)
By 2016, hip-hop heads were afraid to accept what they knew was true: Lil Wayne, the former best rapper alive, was washed. If he wasn?t making news by trading shots with Birdman and Cash Money over the unreleased Carter V, Wayne spent his time dropping lousy mixtapes and predictable, phoned-in guest spots. Then Chance the Rapper dropped Coloring Book and Wayne, despite having to follow great performances by Chance and 2 Chainz, won ?No Problem? with his scene-stealing verse. In the six years after he?d returned from Rikers, I had always thought that if Weezy would ever re-assert his status as one of the best rappers alive, he?d do so with a rapid-fire verse reminiscent of ?A Milli.? Instead, on ?No Problem?, he couldn?t have sounded more at ease; Wayne began his verse rapping, ?I got problems bigger than these boys?, and if it wasn?t for the no-fucks-given attitude in his delivery, you might?ve remembered that he had many problems, a la fighting with Cash Money over releasing Tha Carter V, while struggling to prove the ?Wayne is washed? camp wrong. And that?s why his verse was so good; Wayne was back, but only on his terms.
3. Cassidy?s ?6 Minutes? (2005)
Cassidy released ?6 Minutes? in June 2005, meaning Lil Wayne recorded his verse sometime in the prior 12 months, which is relevant because this period coincides with his workaholic-level of output. Consider: from June 2004 to June 2005, Wayne released five official mixtapes (Da Drought 1 & 2, The Prefix, The Suffix, and Dedication), while recording Tha Carter II. His verse on ?6 Minutes?, a stream-of-consciousness performance that lasted over two minutes, was exactly what Wayne was doing on every mixtape, and yet, it felt bigger because two rappers, who were at the peak of their powers, no less, were forced to follow his opening bars with some of their own. Predictably, they paled in comparison.
2. Playaz Circle?s ?Duffle Bag Boy? (2007)
It?s easy to forget that ?Duffle Bag Boy? isn?t a Lil Wayne song. It?s even harder to remember that the track didn?t even feature a Wayne verse. That?s what an era-defining hook can do; and Wayne, who had just been anointed the ?Best Rapper Alive?, submitted a transcendent chorus that every hip-hop head sang along to in the fall of 2007. More impressive was that Wayne was singing; this was pre-Auto-Tune, pure emotion. In hindsight, it?s the moment that the South cemented its place as the epicenter of hip-hop, a title that, eleven years later, it has yet to give up.
1. DJ Khaled?s ?We Takin? Over? (2006)
?I am the beast/Feed me rappers or feed me beats.?
Those two lines launched the coronation of Lil Wayne. His career-altering, once-in-a-generation verse confirmed the claims he?d been making since Tha Carter II?s ?The Best Rapper Alive?; finally, it reigned true. Even better, it came on a song that featured the hottest up-and-comer in the game (Rick Ross), and arguably the biggest rapper in recent years (T.I.). No matter, though. It was Wayne?s world. And from then on, he was hip-hop?s King, with sole-occupancy of the throne.