Lil Wayne has become an unstoppable force in hip-hop since stepping onto the scene in the early 90s alongside the Hot Boys. Close to two decades later, the rapper has become one to go to for chart-climbers, all for his snarling rhymes filled with canny wordplay. Weezy even made chart history when he topped Elvis Presley for the most Hot 100 appearances among solo acts last year.
The past few days have been a whirlwind for the rapper, currently recovering and feeling "more than good" after suffering a seizure on March 15. Still, the rapper continues to march forward and build on his success, releasing his tenth studio album, "I Am Not A Human Being II," tomorrow (March 26) and soon to embark on a summer U.S. tour, America's Most Wanted, alongside T.I. and Future.
Check out 10 of Lil Wayne's most defining career moves to date.
Lil Wayne Signs to Cash Money Records
Lil Wayne has been putting in work since knee-high. The rapper signed to Cash Money Records at 12, becoming the youngest member of the label. Lil Wayne continues to build his success under the label that raised him. He re-signed with Cash Money in 2012 for an additional four albums. “I just re-signed another four-album deal, so my next four albums is coming out with Cash Money," he confirmed with MTV.
Lil Wayne Joins the Hot Boys
Soon after signing to Cash Money Records, Lil Wayne joined the Hot Boys, alongside Juvenile, N.G. and Young Turk. The success of their sophomore album, "Guerrilla Warfare," which peaked at No. 1 on R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and No. 2 on Billboard 200, set up Lil Wayne for his debut album. It's key to attribute the success of "Guerrilla Warfare" and many of Cash Money's earlier works to not only the artists themselves, but to the talents of one of the south's original hit-makers, producer, rapper Mannie Fresh.
B.G., Birdman, Lil Wayne, Juvenile, Mannie Fresh Introduce 'Bling Bling' To Mainstream
In rap there are countless ways to refer to jewelry, but none come close to "bling, bling." Although not the first time it was used, B.G.'s "Chopper City in the Ghetto" song "Bling Bling" popularized the term and also placed some shine on Lil Wayne. "Bling bling/ Everytime I come around yo' city/ Bling bling/ Pinky ring worth about 50/ Bling bling/ Every time I buy a new ride/ Bling bling/ Lorinsers on Yokahama tires/ Bling bling," he raps on the hook.
Lil Wayne's Debut 'Tha Block Is Hot' Reaches Platinum Status
Lil Wayne made the world know he could stand alone as a solo artist with his album, "Tha Block Is Hot." His debut solo album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, with 229,000 copies sold first week according to Nielsen SoundScan, and ultimately reached platinum. Fourteen years later, "Tha Block Is Hot" has sold 1,402,000 copies to date.
Lil Wayne Births Young Money Records
In 2005, Lil Wayne made one of his smartest career moves when he founded his Cash Money Records label imprint, Young Money Entertainment. Distributed by Universal Records, Young Money has helped push out two of hip-hop's most notable rappers, Drake and Nicki Minaj.
Lil Wayne Earns First Hot 100 No. 1 with "Lollipop"
Lil Wayne's "Tha Carter III" single, "Lollipop," solidified the rapper's hit-making golden touch. Two months after debuting at No. 85 on the Hot 100 chart, the song peaked at No. 1 and claimed the spot for five consecutive weeks. "Lollipop," which as sold 4,639,000 digital copes to date according to Nielsen SoundScan, is the rapper's first and only Hot 100 No. 1 as a solo act.
'Tha Carter III' Debuts at No. 1 on Billboard 200
While "Tha Carter II" legitimized Lil Wayne as a lyrical beast, "Tha Carter III" placed the rapper on the mainstream map. The album sold more than 1 million copies in its debut week in 2008 (1.006 million, to be exact, according to Nielsen SoundScan). Among all rap albums, it had the fourth-largest sales week ever (behind two Eminem sets and one by 50 Cent).
When "Tha Carter III" bowed with a million sold, it was the first album in over three years to hit the million-in-a-week threshold. Before that, 50 Cent's "The Massacre" was the last to do a million in a week (March 19, 2005; 1.14 million).
By Keith Caulfield
Lil Wayne Debuts 'Tha Carter' Documentary
After earning a No. 1 album, his 2009 documentary film, "Tha Carter," made its debut at the Sundance Film Festival. The Adam Bhala Lough-directed film was bittersweet, for it showed Lil Wayne at one of his most creative moments of his career, but also brought light to another addiction of his, lean. There's no surprise as to why, after its debut, Lil Wayne objected its release.
Lil Wayne Notches 12 Concurrent Singles on Hot 100
On Sept. 17, 2011, Lil Wayne did something that no solo artist had never done before. That week, he notched 12 concurrent singles on the Billboard Hot 100 -- the single-most songs on the chart at the same time by a solo act. Only the Beatles have ever had more singles on the chart at the same time. Way back on April 11, 1964, the Fab Four logged 14 simultaneous hits. Lil Wayne continues to hold the record for the most concurrently-charting singles on the Hot 100 by a solo act.
By Keith Caulfield
Lil Wayne Passes An All-Time Elvis Presley Hot 100 Mark
The rapper re-wrote history when topping Elvis Presley for the most Hot 100 appearances among solo acts when appearing on Game's "Celebration." With an astounding 113 singles charted on the Billboard Hot 100, he holds the record as the solo artist with the most hits in the tally's nearly 55-year history. (He jumped ahead of former record holder Elvis Presley in September of 2012. Presley has notched 108 hits.)
Among those Hot 100 entries are 18 top 10 singles, including two No. 1s: "Lollipop" and Jay Sean's "Down."
By Keith Caulfield