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Published on October 29th, 2014 | by Lydia Brooks

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The Come Up of Lil Wayne

With a net worth of $141 million, Lil Wayne is one of the richest rappers in the world today. But how did he go from a 14-year old high school drop out from Hollygrove, New Orleans to the international success he is today?

While Lil Wayne’s upbringing was a rough one, he wasn’t your typical high school dropout. He was enrolled in the gifted program in elementary school, and was a star student in High School, but in school wasn’t enough for Lil Wayne, and music would soon take over his life. He had been rapping since he was 8 years old, and by the time he was 11 he had already launched his hip-hop career.

As a Middle School student, Lil Wayne befriended local rapper Bryan “Birdman” Williams, who also happened to be co-owner of Cash Money records. Soon, Lil Wayne started hanging around the Cash Money offices with Birdman and Slim, and to prove that he had what it took to be a star, Lil Wayne would record his freestyle raps onto Birdman’s answering machine. When Birdman heard that Lil Wayne had some real talent, he started to include Lil Wayne in various Cash Money recordings, and soon teamed him up with another young hip-hop star, B.G.

Released in 1995, the album “True Story” only bore the name “B.G.” on the cover, but it has since been widely accepted as Lil Wayne’s first full-length release. The album came out when Lil Wayne was 11 years old.

Lil Wayne would have had another chance to get his name on an album cover two years later when B.G. released “Chopper City,” but he accidentally shot himself in the chest with a .44 when he was 12 years old, and B.G. had to finish the project on his own.

It didn’t take Lil Wayne long to get back on his feet, however, and soon after the shooting incident he teamed up with another Cash Money artist, the Hot Boys. Their first album, “Guerilla Warfare,” which reached number 5 on the Billboard 200 chart, came out when Lil Wayne was 15.

Meanwhile, Lil Wayne had dropped out of school to pursue his rap career full-time. Then, at the age of 17, he made his solo debut with “Tha Block is Hot” – an album that has since gone platinum.

At the young age of 17, Lil Wayne already had six years of experience in the music industry behind him. But despite the success of his solo album, Lil Wayne was in danger of being seen as a novelty star – a little kid who spit hardcore gangster rap verses and would soon be forgotten by the hip-hop industry.

Determined to be taken seriously, Wayne continued to release material, but his next two albums failed to recreate the success of his debut. Then, when Cash Money ran into financial troubles in the early 2000′s, Lil Wayne went underground, releasing mixtape after mixtape of hot material. Sometimes he would even record three or four songs in one night and release them all online, happy to give them away for free. By 2007, the New Yorker had dubbed him “rapper of the year,” despite the fact that he hadn’t released a single album that year.

Today Lil Wayne is an artist who refuses to be put in a box. Child star, Southern gangster, underground sensation, crossover artist, rock star, even Rikers Island convict – Lil Wayne has worn all of these labels, but refused to be defined by any of them. Perhaps that’s why at age 32, 21 years after his first release, Lil Wayne’s career is still on the rise.
Lil Wayne talks about how he almost died after accidentally shooting himself

Lil Wayne at age 14 with Puff Daddy and Birdman Williams 

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