The newest addition to the many "Lil's" in the hip hop music industry, Lil Wayne, is a force to be reckoned with. His debut album, "Tha Block is Hot" (1999), went double platinum upon its release and even his lowest selling album is still certified as gold upon the album release by Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Despite his success in the music industry, Lil Wayne's childhood experiences, like many other rap and hip hop singers, were far from perfect.
Born as Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr. on September 27, 1982 in New Orleans, Louisiana to Dwayne Michael Turner and Jacinda Carter, who was then 19 years old, Lil Wayne was forced to bid goodbye to his father who abandoned him and his mother right after he was born. During that time, he and his mother were forced to survive by themselves in the criminal-infested community at Hollygrove division of New Orleans.
Fortunate enough, soon afterwards, his mother met Reginald "Rabbit" McDonald, who eventually became his stepfather. Years later, his stepfather moved the family out from the poverty-stricken Hollygrove to East New Orleans. By that time, Lil Wayne had begun to develop his interest in hip hop and rap music.
Influenced by Cash Money Recording artists like Pimp Daddy and U.N.L.V., he began rapping at block parties. His performance at one of the parties caught the attention of Lil Slim, a Cash Money rapper. Through the recording artist, Lil Wayne met the Cash Money Records moguls, Brian "Baby" Williams and Ronald "Slim" Williams. Though his free styling talent left strong impressions on the two tycoons, Lil Wayne did not get a contract with Cash Money until he repeatedly left freestyles recording on Baby's answering machine.
At the tender age of 11 years old, Lil Wayne at last got his shot to sign up with Cash Money, being the Records' youngest rapper. A year after signing the contract, Lil Wayne caught in an incident that almost took his life. He accidentally shot himself in chest with his stepfather gun, putting him on life support for two weeks.
Recovering from his incident, Lil Wayne marched on to welcome his first gig, in which he was hooked up with another newcomer, Lil' Doggie, later more well-known as B.G., to form a rap group The B.G.'z. With this group, the young rapper only recorded and released one album, "True Story" (1995), which did not sell as expected.
It was during this time that he was forced to drop out of 10th grade. He has a daughter, Reginae Carter, with high school sweetheart, Antonia, but was not allowed to meet his child. However, things quickly changed for the better after his stepfather passed away in early 1997. Getting permission to work with Baby once more, he left his unsuccessful stories behind and then embarked to form a new group, called "The Hot Boys", with Juvenile, Turk, and B.G in 1997.
Quickly, he and his group went on recording their notable debut album "Get It How You Live" (1997) followed by "Guerilla Warfare" (1999), both albums earned them mild fame throughout the South and Midwest. Despite the fact that the group was considerably successful, Lil Wayne and his friends officially went on their separate ways in 2001.
Though Lil Wayne had been known in several states by 1999, it wasn't until he released his solo debut, "Tha Block Is Hot" (1999), that he really got his big break, being known all over the States. His solo album peaked at number three on Billboard's album chart and at number one on Billboard Top R'n'B/Hip-Hop Albums, while at the same time scoring him a nomination for 2000 Source Award for New Artist of the Year, Solo.
In the years to follow, the rapper who was originated from the 17th Ward of New Orleans released "Lights Out" (2000) and "500 Degreez" (2002), both failing to match the success of his seminal debut, receiving only gold certification from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). His "500 Degreez" album got its name from Juvenile's multi-platinum album "400 Degreez" (1998). It was supposed to be the album that beat the sales record of Juvenile's, who left Cash Money earlier. However, the sales of the album proved to be disappointing, selling only 536,000 copies in U.S. and 900,000 copies worldwide.
In June 2004, this young American artist released his most recognized album yet, "Tha Carter" that peaked at number five on Billboard 200, and at number two on Billboard Top R'n'B/Hip-Hop Albums. Around this time, he collaborated with Destiny's Child and T.I. for the noteworthy Destiny's Child's song "Soldier", earning him prominent nominations, naming some were 2005 BET Award-Best Collaboration and 2006 Grammy Award-Best Rap/Sung Collaboration.
Following the accomplishment of album "Tha Carter" and collaboration single "Soldier", he released "Tha Carter II" (2005) that debuted at number two on Billboard's album chart while its lead single "Fireman" became a hit peaking at number 32 on Billboard Hot 100. Once again, the rapper received positive reviews and gathered notable nomination for the 2006 BET Hip-Hop Award, the 2006 Billboard Music Award and the 2007 BET Award.
In the period of 2006 to 2007, he gained more fans by releasing a series of mixtapes, "Dedication" (2006) and "Dedication 2" (2006), whereas in 2007, he recorded another Carter-titled album "Tha Carter III", scheduled to be released on February 12, 2008, and received his first award, the 2007 BET Hip-Hop Award, for MVP of the Year.
His star continued to shine as every albums he made in the following years sold quite well and climbed to notable spots on the charts. "Rebirth" in 2010 was certified gold despite getting panned by critics. "I Am Not a human Being" in the same year fared better as not only did it make it into the top 10 of Hot 200 like many of his other creations but he also gained back respect from the music reviewers.
He came back to his fullest in 2011 when releasing the fourth installment of "Tha Carter", selling 964,000 copies in its first week. Through "Tha Charter IV", he posted the biggest sales week for a male solo artist of all time after Usher's "Confessions" (1.10 million) and Garth Brooks' "Double Live" (1.09 million).
He occupied the third and fourth places at the same time with his first best sales week contributed by "Tha Charter III", before Justin Timberlake barged in with "The 20/20 Experience" which pulled "Tha Carter IV" to the fifth slot on the list.
After taking a rest from releasing an album, Weezy returned in 2013 with the second installment of "I Am Not a Human Being". With "I Am Not a Human Being II", he could easily bow at No. 1 on Hot 200 by selling between 190,000 to 210,000 copies in its first week based on one-day estimates.
Ahead of the album release, he caused a buzz on the web when he was hospitalized for seizures. Rumors suggested he was on drugs but he explained later that he was epileptic who had suffered multiple seizures before without public knowing about it.