Every once in a while, Idolator reaches into our vast record-collection vaults for a feature we’ve imaginatively title The Vault. Today’s entry is another from our peoples Peter Rubin, a man whose Gangsta Grillz collection is far, far greater than ours:
It’s no question that your friendly Idolator editors love them some Lil Wayne, and with good reason: he’s lil’! But where did he come from? We all remember the Hot Boys/Cash Money Millionaires. “Project Bitch?” The definition of “guilty pleasure.” But his ascent from youngest in charge to a powerhouse emcee who’s arguably the current King of the Guest Verse (sorry, Ludacris) seemed, to a lot of people, impossibly sudden. So to paraphrase Warner Wolf, let’s go to the mixtape!
Starting back in 1999, Wayne had recorded a series of legendary “for promotional purposes only” albums with his then-crew Sqad Up [sic]. But after they went their separate ways, he let loose a torrent of solo mixtapes that showcased a rapidly evolving style: snotnosed swagger coupled with a growing ability to ride any beat you could throw at him. That’s why I’m plundering my own annals (ayo!) to offer a roadmap. Because everyone deserves to learn how our man DeWayne went from “see, I squeeze it between ‘em and I leave ‘em so greasy”1 to something that isn’t quite as gleefully, sophomorically disgusting. And really, all these tracks feature a moment where you realize that Wayne is absolutely slaughtering the beat. Call Upton Sinclair!
1 Yup, that’d be “Project Bitch.”
Lil Wayne – Bass Beat [MP3, link expired] (from Gangsta Grillz: Dedication)
Lil Wayne – SportsCenter (from Gangsta Grillz: Dedication 2)
IDOLATOR BONUS BEAST:
Weezy’s verse from “Cannon (Remix)” [MP3, link expired] (Two minutes of utter carnage)