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Could Lil Wayne's guilty plea hurt his CD sales?

October 22, 2009 |  5:49 pm

WAYNE_LAT_6

Could Lil Wayne's decision Thursday to plead guilty to attempted criminal possession of a weapon in New York bring a halt to the New Orleans rapper's recent professional momentum?

Lil Wayne, born Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., is expected to receive one year in prison, according to a spokeswoman for the New York district attorney's office. His plea was related to a 2007 weapons possession arrest in New York City; police said a gun was found on his tour bus in Manhattan in July 2007.

Lil Wayne was forced to surrender his passport Thursday; he will next appear in court on Dec. 15 and he'll be sentenced in February, the New York district attorney spokeswoman said.

Wayne's plea could have larger implications for the release of his next album and his ability to tour to promote that collection. The artist has been working on a long-awaited rock 'n' roll effort, "Rebirth," an album scheduled to be released Dec. 15.

His label publicist at Universal Motown did not respond to requests for comment, and it was unclear whether the legal situation would affect the release of the album.

"Rebirth," originally pegged for a spring release and pushed back several times, is tipped to remake the rap star into a rock 'n' roller. A lead single, "Prom Queen," was released in January, but it failed to generate the radio airplay and digital sales of his rap efforts.

Lil Wayne has also said he's in the midst of recording "Tha Carter IV." But it's difficult to say how Lil Wayne's legal troubles will affect his career. Rapper T.I. is serving out a one-year sentence on federal weapons charges, but his 2008 album "Paper Trail" has sold more than 2 million copies. T.I. also brokered a deal for an MTV reality show, "T.I.'s Road to Redemption," which documented his efforts working with at-risk youth.

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-- Todd Martens

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Top photo Jake Danna Stevens / Los Angeles Times. Bottom photo: Associated Press

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