It became clear to me, yesterday, when I saw Lil Wayne on the cover of the new Rolling Stone, that the TIs are sending him to prison on purpose, to get his career back in order.

The dead giveaway was the fact that they've got him dressed like a cholo, with those heavily starched khaki work pants hanging down around his ass (no homo), a red bandana hanging from his right pocket, and I'm pretty sure he's throwing up the gang sign for the bloods. A real cholo usually wears a button down shirt, sometimes with only the top button buttoned, for whatever reason, but that's probably just because Mexicans aren't known for their physique, despite the fact that so many of them work in construction. Which I'm assuming is because they're part Feather Indian, and Feather Indians aren't a very hardy people. That's why they can't hold their liquor. Lil Wayne's starting to develop a PCP gut, like Gucci Mane, but he does have all of those cool tattoos to show off. And I doubt anyone who reads Rolling Stone would know from a real cholo.

You know good and well the idea there was to dress Lil Wayne like a gangbanger. Sometimes a rapper can get away with throwing up a gang sign on TV, like when Snoop Dogg throws up a Crip sign during a performance on Saturday Night Live, but there's no Lil Wayne could secretly slip in the sign for the bloods on the cover of Rolling Stone, as heavily scrutinized as these magazine covers are. They make sure the women on magazine covers are perfect down to the very last pixel - and god bless them for it. If they were really concerned about the Crips pulling a driveby on the Rolling Stone offices, they could have just cropped the picture at the wrist. Not that they have anything to worry about. How badass can these gangs be, if they let a guy like Lil Wayne - who's been known to kiss other guys on the lips - go around pretending to be a member, without doing anything about it? Do the bloods even kill people in their own neighborhoods anymore? I'm not promoting black on black violence. I'm just saying.

The Rolling Stone cover just so happened to pop up the same week that Rebirth, the Lil Wayne rock album, finally hit stores. Which I didn't even realize, until I read just now that it's on track to sell upwards of 150,000 copies its first week out, despite the fact that I'm sure a lot of people don't even know a new Lil Wayne album came out this week. There's no single on the radio, is there? I know Rebirth had been set to drop in February, but I thought it had been postponed indefinitely, once they realized how bad it was and the fact that there's not a whole lot Lil Wayne can do to promote it, what with Lil Wayne scheduled to report to the pokey just in time for Valentines Day. I guess the thought there was to cut their losses - they spent so much money recording the damn thing, they might as well capitalize on the publicity from Lil Wayne going to jail. Meanwhile, they can use the fact that Lil Wayne is going to jail to boost his street cred, to wipe the taste of of Rebirth from people's mouths before it even passes their lips. No Boutros.

It's a brilliant PR strategy, if you think about it, to the point where you have to wonder if Lil Wayne really did have to go to prison. As many times as he's been caught with shit on his bus, including everything from drugs to guns to underage girls, and gotten away with it, what was the point of him pleading guilty in this case in New York? I could see if they caught standing on a street corner in Times Square pointing a gun at somebody, like that one bum mixtape rapper they shot during Kwanzaa, but they didn't even find the gun on him, they found it in his bathroom. Yeah, it was his tour bus, but how did they know it didn't belong to one of his weed carriers? If your job involves riding around on a tour bus with Lil Wayne, chances are you've spent some time in the joint, and hence would be better suited to serve a bid than Lil Wayne. The way they pinned the gun on him is that they found his gism on it, but that could have just been because it was in his bathroom. Maybe he shot a three-roper at a groupie's chin, and the third rope fell a bit short.

Stacin Goins could have had this case thrown out of court almost immediately. But then there wouldn't have been an opportunity to make Lil Wayne look like a badass, now would there?