Lil Wayne shocked the world when he was revealed as the man inside the robot costume on the post-Super Bowl season 3 debut of Fox’s reality singing smash The Masked Singer on Sunday night, where Weezy stepped out of his comfort zone to perform Lenny Kravitz‘s 1993 rock hit “Are You Gonna Go My Way.”
Before taking off the cumbersome costume’s silver head, Wayne had all the judges stumped, including Robin Thicke, who has worked with the rapper on a handful of songs over the years and erroneously guessed that Robot was snowboarding legend Shaun White. Comedian/actor Ken Jeong, notorious for his wrong guesses, was actually a bit closer this time, chiming in that he thought it might be Public Enemy’s Flavor Flav.
Watching Wayne get back to his singing ways got us thinking about all the times Weezy has utilized his heavily Auto-Tuned singing chops on records, not to mention his pivot to rock-leaning music around the turn of the last decade.
Here are six times Weezy sang his ass off. (And watch Wayne’s Masked Singer reveal below.)
Weezy puts a creative spin on the Tupac classic “Ambitionz Az a Ridah.” The Young Money president slows the beat down and implements his syrupy croon to woo another potential lover. The effortless three-minute freestyle landed as a deep cut on 2007’s The Drought Is Over Pt. 4, as Weezy continued to build hype heading into the long-anticipated C3.
2. “Piano Man”
Wayne pours his heart out over a piano-laden instrumental. The romantic love ballad landed on Weezy’s 2009 mixtape Hottest N—a Under the Sun. The New Orleans native gets vulnerable and lets a certain woman in his life know that he would do anything to make her happy. The slow jam finds Wayne experimenting, as he geared up to take the rock plunge less than a year later.
3. “Me & My Drank”
Just a couple of weeks after Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter III 2008 release, “Me & My Drank” leaked online. Weezy sets the raw scene for listeners, as he’s locked into the studio late at night rhyming from the heart with his Styrofoam cup nearby. “Thinking ’bout a certain somebody,” he moans.
4. “How to Love”
Weezy softens up on Tha Carter IV‘s third single, lamenting about a woman going through life and not knowing how to love someone properly. The 37-year-old also cited Tupac’s “Keep Ya Head Up” as inspiration when crafting the uplifting anthem. “How to Love” cracked the Billboard Hot 100′s top five in 2011.
5. “Every Girl”
Wayne set the stage for his 2009 We Are Young Money label compilation album with an absolute banger. Tunechi kicks the track off with a fiery verse, but his vocalizing really comes on the infectious chorus, before handing the baton off to Drake and the rest of his YM kin. “Every Girl” peaked at No. 10 on the Hot 100.
6. “On Fire”
“On Fire” served as the second single from Weezy’s genre-blending Rebirth album. Wayne grips a guitar and mic stand to put his gifted vocal cords to use in the rock-tinged track’s music video. With a polarizing reception at the time of its 2009 release, one can only wonder if Weezy was just ahead of his time when it came to pulling on other genres in his music.
Watch Wayne on the Masked Singer below.