Lil Wayne 'free at last' after eight-month prison stint
After serving eight months of a yearlong sentence for attempted gun possession, the rapper was released from Rikers Island at about 8:30 a.m. Thursday.
Wayne reported to prison in March after reaching a plea deal resulting from a 2007 gun charge after a Manhattan concert stop.
Before going in, he adopted Twitter and launched a special website to keep in touch with his supporters. It was maintained by his "little brother" Lil Twist, and on it he published letters he'd penned in prison.
"I was never scared, worried nor bothered by the situation" behind bars, Wayne said Tuesday through the site.
The rapper was welcomed home with a barrage of Tweets from his Young Money (Wayne’s imprint through Cash Money Records) family.
Drake saluted the fans' support and Tweeted, “I just want to thank you all for keeping YM alive for the last 8 months.”
Besides fans writing Wayne –- which had to cease when he landed in solitary confinement for a month as punishment for possessing "music contraband" (headphones and a charger for an MP3 player) -– they gobbled up his latest album, “I Am Not a Human Being.”
Released digitally on his birthday, Sept. 27, followed by a physical release, the album consisted of work he recorded right before heading to prison.
The record debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart, with 110,000 downloads in its first week, while “Right Above It,” the Drake-assisted lead single, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Digital Songs chart.
He also was featured on hits from Drake and Eminem and recorded a new verse via telephone for the "Rikers Remix" of Drake and Jay-Z’s "Light Up.” Weezy went into overdrive before his stint, shooting 10 music videos to sustain both collaborations and promotions for his poorly received “rock” album, “Rebirth.”
“For about a month and a half he was in the studio just recording, knowing that he didn’t want to disappear,” Bryant said in an interview with Pop & Hiss last month. “He wanted his fans to have something while he was in there. He said to me, ‘I want people to still feel like I’m here.’ ”
With Wayne’s release, there will surely be lots of celebrations and, more important, new music. Bryant promised the rapper would waste no time getting to the studio to record the “Tha Carter IV,” the highly anticipated sequel to its 2008 predecessor that yielded him the bestselling album of the year.
Former President Clinton offered some praise for Wayne during a phone interview with a Pittsburgh radio station this week and added that "what I hope will happen is that he has a good life now."
Here’s to hoping Wayne listens up and stays out of the clink.
-- Gerrick D. Kennedy
Photo: Lil Wayne enters Manhattan criminal court on Oct. 21, 2009. Credit: Louis Lanzano / Associated Press