What a difference a year makes. This time last year T.I was knee deep into his prison sentence and Lil Wayne was the hottest rapper in the game (if you let Viacom tell it), making a myriad of guest appearances on a variety of albums while promoting his Young Money label, a motley crew featuring the likes of a thick-bodied woman with a penchant for making weird faces and noises, a Canadian, a guy I haven’t seen since he battled Ness in that old episode of Making The Band, the cousin of Gym Class Heroes front man Travis McCoy, two pre-teens and a bunch of random weed carriers holding fictional executive positions within the camp, all while staring down an impending prison sentence for a shitload of charges.
We all know what happened next: Wayne eventually went to prison, but not before getting allowed to fix his teeth first… side note: every one of us knows good and damn well that if we had the same problem with our teeth like Wayne’s, we’d still end up in prison the day we’re to start the sentence regardless. Rich privilege: the true AmeriKKKan Dream.
Anyways, Wayne went to prison and T.I came out. However, T.I wasn’t able to exactly capture the same glory he had during his Paper Trail run, or at least musically (he was in a movie that topped the box office for a week; I’ll give him that much). One mixtape, a couple of underwhelming singles and one fateful trip to Los Angeles later, T.I is now back in prison (I guess certain things don’t change) and Wayne is out and, as you read this, probably knee-deep inside of Lauren London making up for lost, unprotected time, gearing up to make his blitzkrieg run of songs, concert appearances, interviews on his prison experience and the reasons why nobody should go to prison (outside of increasing your chances of getting butt-raped), court dates and whatever rappers do once they come out of jail. The only difference now is that what was considered nothing more than a vanity label to put on his friends before he went in has actually turned into a somewhat legitimate label now that he’s out, with a couple of successful albums to its name and arguably boasting today’s two hottest artists of the moment in Nicki Minaj and Drake. Hell, even Tyga has a hit single on his hands with “Deuces,” even if most of us only know Chris Brown’s parts.
Now that Wayne is out, not only will he be able to walk around with headphones and a charger legally he’ll now have to compete with his own stable. Whereas Kanye West and T.I are still considered the top acts on their respective labels despite having the likes of Mos Def, B.o.B, Pusha T and… um… Big Kuntry, Wayne now has to actually compete with his two former role players looking to be starters for the team. While this may prove beneficial for his own comeback, like how Jordan and Pippen were during Michael’s first return to the NBA, this could also stir the pot on who is really the best member of Young Money.
It must really suck for Jae Millz and Gudda Gudda, however. But I’m straying from the point.
Lil Wayne is going to have some stiff competition, but alongside the typical stalwarts like Jay or Kanye it’s also coming from within his own camp. While I have no doubt that within a month’s time he’ll be back to normal, where his positioning will be remains to be seen.