Artistry, Addiction & Mental Illness: Does Lil Wayne Really Think His Own Black Life Matters?

November 2, 2016  |  

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Surely by now, you’ve seen and heard Lil Wayne’s comments about the Black Lives Matter Movement in an upcoming “Nightline” interview with Lindsey Davis. If you haven’t, I implore you to take a look at them below.

I’d strongly suggest you watch the video so you can get the vibe that was in the room. But if you can’t, read the transcript of this portion of the interview below.

Lindsey Davis: What’s your thought on Black Lives Matter? 

Lil Wayne: What is that? What do you mean?

Davis: The idea was that there’s this movement called Black Lives Matter thinking that the rest of America didn’t seem to understand that, that Black Lives Matter. 

Lil Wayne: That just sounds weird. I don’t know that you put a name on it. It’s not a name. It’s not “whatever whatever.” It’s somebody got shot by a policeman for f*cked up reason. I am a young, Black, rich m*therf*cker. If that don’t let you know that America understand Black m*therf*ckers matter these days, I don’t know what it is. That man White, he filming me. I’m a n*gga. I don’t know what you mean man. Don’t come at me with that dumb sh*t, ma’am. My life matter, especially to my b*tches. 

winks at the camera. 

Davis: Do you feel though, connected to…

Lil Wayne: I don’t feel connected to a damn thing that ain’t got nothing to do with me. If you do, you crazy as sh*t. You. Not the camera. You. Feeling connected to something that ain’t got nothing to do with you. If it got nothing to do with me, I ain’t connected to it. 

I’ll dissect his comments later but what makes them even more interesting is that, they’re in direct contrast to the ones he made on stage just this past summer in New Orleans.

At his annual homecoming show, the Lil Weezyana Festival, Wayne told his audience,

“We are Black America. Black Lives Matter! Hoes don’t matter. Cars don’t matter. Nothing else matter cuz Black Lives Matter, b*tch.”

So what happened from that stage in Louisiana to the sit down interview with Lindsey Davis? It’s confusing. And that was the only word I could think of that described the reaction I felt after watching those two videos. I watched them in the order I presented them above. First Lil Wayne saying he’s not connected to the movement, and then the video of him instructing the crowd to scream it out while he hopped around on stage. I knew I wanted to write about these videos because I think it’s an important conversation we need to have about artist activism, or lack thereof, and responsibility to the community that has supported their work, in the case of Lil Wayne, for decades now.

He talks about being a rich, Black m*therf*cker. Black people, the same ones who are being innocently killed, are the ones who put him there. So maybe confusion wasn’t the only word to describe what I was feeling. There was anger and disappointment there too. How dare Lil Wayne get on a mainstream show like ABC and say something so reckless, so detrimental? Not only how dare he, how could he?

While some might argue I shouldn’t give too much credence to Lil Wayne’s words, I was racking my brain trying to figure out how he came to the conclusion that he, a Black man, was not connected to the notion that Black Lives Matter. For a minute, I remembered Toya Wright’s recent Breakfast Club interview, where she spoke, briefly about Lil Wayne and his eccentricities. She told the crew that Lil Wayne is completely disconnected from the world around him. So a lot of the news that many of us can’t seem to avoid, Lil Wayne has never even heard.

Charlemagne: What do you think about his comments about racism don’t exist? 

Toya: Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a ignorant comment coming from a Black man. But then again, me knowing Wayne, he didn’t mean nothing by that. 

DJ Envy: I don’t think that’s ignorant. That’s his true feeling. That’s how he felt.  

Toya: No, no, no. Because it’s so much going on in the world, it comes off as a very ignorant comment coming from a Black man because it does exist. But in Wayne’s world… y’all have to understand Wayne have his own world he live in. A White man saved Wayne’s life, he almost died. So in his world, it doesn’t exist because he could be dead and you wouldn’t even know Lil Wayne right now. Because all his fans are predominately *points to her palm* White. His skateboard friends, his fans musically, a White guy saved his life. He not in tune with what’s going on in everyday life. So you can’t take what he say… And then he don’t do a good job explaining his mind. He lives somewhere else, I promise you…He don’t know nothing…Like about the killings with the Black…he not…he lives under a rock.”

I considered Toya’s words for a minute. They make sense but they still weren’t good enough for me. Many of us have been the benefactors of White folks’ kindness but that doesn’t mean we have to ignore the plight of our people and the fact that racism is still a very real problem. And if it affects the poor and middle class Black folks, it should be a problem for the rich, Black m*therf*ckers too.

Aside from his disconnection, the way he spoke to Ms. Davis was also an issue for me. I remember when Lil Wayne sat down with Katie Couric. And every response to her was “Yes, Miss. Katie.” “No, Miss Katie.” “I’m a gangster Miss Katie.” But with Davis, he alludes to her being “crazy as sh*t.” With the composure she maintained, while being insulted, she didn’t deserve that.

With such inconsistencies in behavior, in both his treatment of interviewers and his thoughts on Black Lives Matter, you have to wonder what’s going on with Lil Wayne mentally. The first thing that came to mind was his drug use. In the interview, his eyes looked glazed over. His movements are erratic. In discussing this with Brande, our managing editor, this morning, I asked, “The drugs are doing all that?  The codeine is that strong?” For those of you who don’t know, Wayne has a pretty well-publicized addiction to lean, syrup, etc. Basically, a mixture of cough medicine with alcohol. I watched his documentary a couple of years ago and one of his closest friends and business associates spoke at length about Wayne’s reliance on the drug and the attempts he’s made to get him sober. The rapper is famous for asking why people are concerned about what’s in his cup. I didn’t have to do much research to discover that prolonged use of codeine does indeed slow the brain.

The conversation with Brande turned to Lil Wayne’s artistry. She mentioned that during our Election 2016 taping, Michaela Angela Davis mentioned that Lil Wayne sounded so clear, so lucid on Solange’s A Seat at the Table. In fact, his feature on the song “Mad” is one of the few verses where I’ve heard Lil Wayne rap so introspectively, not only about her anger issues, but his attempt at suicide, and even the funny looks and anger his being a rich m*therf*cker seems to elicit from White folk.

Yeah, but I, got a lot to be mad about
Got a lot to be a man about
Got a lot to pop a xan about

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 f*cking burden on my back like a m*therf*cking cap and gown

Then I walk up in the bank, pants sagging down
And I laugh at frowns, what they mad about?
Cause here come this m*therf*cker with this mass account
That didn’t wear cap and gown

Are you mad ’cause the judge ain’t give me more time?

And when I attempted suicide, I didn’t die
I remember how mad I was on that day
Man, you gotta let it go before it get up in the way
Let it go, let it go

Sadly, Brande mentioned that his feature on Jeezy’s album didn’t have that same level of clarity. And while he was more mentally sound in the verse for Solange, he still spoke about drug use and depression and anger so deep it made him want to take his life. So maybe we’re asking too much of Lil Wayne. If Wayne is not in the best space psychologically, he might not even be the best person to ask about Black Lives Matter. With the challenges he’s facing internally, maybe taking on the weighty plight of his community, the Black community, is too much to ask right now. And while it was disappointing to hear. And while I know there are already racist White folks using his words against the movement, perhaps I’d been trying to answer the wrong question. Instead of worrying about how Lil Wayne’s thoughts on Black Lives Matter and how he could speak against it, I should have been asking myself what value does Lil Wayne place on his own Black life?

Veronica Wells is the culture editor at She is also the author of “Bettah Days.” You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter @VDubShrug.

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