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Lil Wayne, born Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr. on September 27, 1982, is a hip-hop and rap recording artist who broke into the industry at the young age of 11 as a part of the young label Cash Money Records’s New Orleans-based duo The B.G.’z.
Carter went by Gangsta D until 1997 when he dropped the D from his first name and officially adopted the moniker Lil Wayne. Wayne worked with B.G. and others as a member of teen hardcore rap group Hot Boys until 1999 when he released his first solo record, Tha Block is Hot, which went double platinum, though failed to break him into the mainstream American rap base.
After two less successful album releases, Wayne changed tactics, drumming up interest through a slew of underground mix-tapes, which created anticipation for his 2004 hit album Tha Carter. This record not only showed great lyric development and marketing prowess, but was also the key turning point in his career, as Wayne broadened his fan base towards mainstream hip hop. Albums Tha Carter II and Tha Carter III were received with critical acclaim — the latter received four Grammy awards, including Best Rap Album.
Despite his incredible professional success, Wayne has had a rather dramatic personal life, including a year-long prison sentence at Rikers Island for charges of criminal possession of a weapon and a three-year probationary period after he was found in possession of various narcotics and paraphernalia. Wayne has also suffered from seizures since 2012 and has since been hospitalized twice due to life-threatening incidents. Reports link his seizures to high doses of codeine in his system — likely a result from his abuse of “Purple Drank” or “Syzurp,” which he has repeatedly referenced in his music.
Wayne has four children: Reginae, 15, with high school sweetheart and ex-wife Antonia Carter, Dwayne Carter III, 4, Cameron, 3, with actress Lauren London and Neal, 3, with singer Nivea.
Image courtesy of Twitpic.