Elder Hip-Hop heads are rejoicing after Lil Wayne admitted that he’s never heard of 21 Savage, Lil Yachty or Lil Uzi Vert. But why?
In an interview with The New York Times, Lil Wayne showed his age and his level of interest in today’s Hip-Hop. While he was doing the interview to promote his new prison memoir Gone ‘Til November, the conversation of course veered into current Hip-Hop music.
Wayne, who built a name for himself and has stayed relevant over the years by doing features, has the world buzzing over his recent appearances on Chance The Rapper‘s “No Problem” and Solange‘s “Mad.” Even though both of the verses feature a Wayne that was more transparent than usual, talking about everything from his current relationship with Cash Money Records to a suicide attempt, the nonchalant rapper infers that neither of the verses were anything out of the ordinary for him.
“It’s just the song,” he says. “If you send me a song about football, then I’m gonna go hard about football. It’s also about the artist.”
From there he was asked about working with younger artists and said that he doesn’t really keep up with much and that he just jumps on whatever his manager sends. Then he was asked about three rappers in particular and if he felt “motivated” by them.
Are there rappers in the new school that are motivating you? Are you keeping up with Yachty, Uzi Vert, 21 Savage, Kodak?
I swear to God I didn’t know you were saying people’s names just now, so that should probably answer that question. I just do my own thing.
Ouch. To Wayne’s credit he does at least know who some of the new school rappers like Tyler, The Creator and Travis Scott are as he’s worked with them before. But with these four in particular, is Wayne not knowing who they are a testament to their relevancy or his?
Lil Wayne has obviously always been in “Wayne’s World” most of his life. This is the same man who says he never had to deal with racism. He’s also the same guy who in same NYT interview, said that he “don’t care” about the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
But is him not knowing who the current generation of rap stars are good or bad for the culture? Many would argue that rappers like Black, Savage, Uzi and Yachty are the main ones that Wayne should be knowing. If not to offer some form of mentorship, at least to acknowledge since they are potentially leading the next generation of rappers.
Wayne himself was in the same position as them about 10-15 years ago. He was a young rapper using mixtapes and the internet to build his fanbase. Yes, he was signed to a major label, but he used his own network to display his skills and eventually demand attention from mainstream media and others who were sleeping on him. Much like the “mumble rappers” he just distanced himself from.
Granted, he has always been a highly-skilled rapper and was “better” than the aforementioned names when he was their age. But there was a time when Wayne was looked down upon for his drug laden content, dreadlocks and face tattoos. But we didn’t hear the Jay Z’s of the world making remarks like “I didn’t know you were saying people’s names just now, so that should probably answer that question. I just do my own thing” about Wayne. Instead, we saw the Jay Z’s offering wisdom and ultimately even trying to sign him.
On the flipside of that, are Black, Savage, Uzi and Yachty that garbage to the point they haven’t even entered Wayne’s radar? Keep in mind, this is the man who spotted talents like Curren$y, Drake and Nicki Minaj early in their careers and signed them to Young Money. So he has a decent track record on knowing what’s dope and what he needs to stand next to. The “mumble rappers” are obviously descendants of Wayne judging from rate at which they create music down to the way they dress. Why would he not know who they are at all?
Lil Wayne not knowing who today’s current rap stars are isn’t a problem per se, but it isn’t something to be celebrated either. Lil Wayne has capitalized greatly off presenting himself as counter-cultured and it opened to doors for rappers like these. Hell, he still holds on to his youth by refusing to drop the “Lil” from his name even though he turned 34 years old this past September. The least Wayne could do as an elder is reach back and offer something to today’s talent. Whether it be advice on what contracts not to sign, what drugs not to try, what places not to be and what kind of music not to make.
Black, Savage, Uzi and Yachty will be alright though. At least Gucci Mane knows who they are.