Lil Wayne's entrance into the G.O.A.T. the conversation started when he signed with Cash Money Records as a teenager. Led by Birdman, Weezy’s run with the Hot Boys spawned southern classics like Guerrilla Warfare in the summer of 1999. He went solo by the end of that year, proving himself as a young avatar with the wordplay on platinum-selling efforts like Tha Block Is Hot. It was pretty much to the moon after that.
Throughout the next decade, Wayne became a superstar. He launched Tha Carter series and dropped three installments from 2004 to 2008. Each effort went platinum and cracked the Billboard 200 top five. Tha Carter III is the most successful offering from the installment series, as it’s almost certified diamond thanks to hits like “Got Money” and Grammy award-winning tracks like “A Milli” and “Lollipop” still burning as timeless gems. He also cut his teeth in the mixtape circuit, ripping through other people’s beats and creating free-flowing products like Dedication 2 (2006), Da Drought 3 (2007) and No Ceilings (2009). Lastly in the that decade, he solidified the new era of his Young Money imprint, which was initially started in the mid 2000s. He Signed acts like Nicki Minaj, Drake and Tyga, all of whom he ushered in on the label compilation We Are Young Money (2009).
The 2010s were no different in terms of wins. Though he did a stint on Rikers Island for a weapons charge, his successors were taking over the rap game. When he came back home, it was like he never left, with projects like Sorry 4 Tha Wait (2011) and albums like Tha Carter IV (2011) still reigning supreme among listeners. It was also in this decade that his influence of rap melodies, unparalleled metaphors and overall persona was on display. Artists like Lil Uzi Vert, Migos and Kendrick Lamar were public about Weezy’s impact on their artistry.
Lil Wayne will probably always have his feet on the gas when it comes to releasing and recording new music. Later efforts like Tha Carter V in the late 2010s show that he hasn’t lost a step. But he’s done enough in his career so far to be remembered as one of the greats. As he continues to work through the 2020s, the following already applies: 12/14 of his LPs have gone either gold or platinum, and have charted inside of Billboard’s 200 chart (five reached the top). He’s got about 200 entries on the Hot 100 chart (25 went top five) and five Grammy wins through dozens of nominations. Plus, the biggest artists on the planet right now are ones that he ushered in.