The moment an eight-year-old Lil Wayne was discovered
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The moment an eight-year-old Lil Wayne was discovered

Lil Wayne was born and raised in the Holly Grove neighbourhood of New Orleans. The rapper (real name Dwayne Carter) was discovered by Birdman when he was just eight years old. Cash Money had signed a distribution deal with Universal, meaning that any music it produced would reach every record store in the US.

The story of Lil Wayne’s discovery by Birdman (real name Bryan Williams) is both interesting and somewhat miraculous. Lil Wayne wrote his first rap when he was only eight and, as a New Orleans native, happened to get the chance into the legendary Bryan Williams who would later become Birdman. The Cash Money mogul allowed Wayne to record raps on his voicemail machine, and, from there, he began to grow.

While the East Coast vs West Coast war was raging on, nobody was really paying attention to Louisiana. However, Lil Wayne ended up on BG’s first album, True Story, at the age of 12 under the moniker Baby D. 

Lil Wayne was introduced to Birdman by the hottest New Orleans rapper in the early 1990s, Lil Slim. In a 2010 interview for his personal documentary Still Thug’n & Pluggin’, Slim told fans, “That happened at an autograph session that I was doing, and I told him to come holla at me, but it wasn’t something I was really thinking about. I was focusing on doing what I was doing, but here come Wayne.”

He continued, “he was like ‘Wassup Slim! So me, keeping it real, being the person I am, I told Baby (Birdman) ‘This my lil’ homie from out the hood right here.’ I said ‘Let him spit something for you.’ So he rapped for Baby, and then Baby gave him a business card.”

As the Birdman’s prodigy child, Lil Wayne crafted his skills further and then became a member of the local Cash Money group Hot Boyz. The collective had moderate success. However, Lil Wayne was bigger than the Hot Boys brand.

After the dissipation of the group, Wayne released his debut album, Tha Block Is Hot, on the label in 1999. Having already built a buzz by touring on the underground across the south and with multiple tracks receiving local airplay throughout the ‘Dixies’, Tha Block Is Hot, pushed by Cash Money and Universal Music, debuted at number three on the Billboard 200.

From there, Wayne only grew, partnering up with DJ Drama and Don Cannon. Still, under Cash Money, the rapper flooded the South with his classic underground mixtape series Dedication. In the early and mid-2000s, Wayne had one of the most successful mixtape runs in rap history and, in his career, has released over 29 mixtapes.

Carter was offered his own imprint under Atlantic, Young Money and, as the founder, signed now iconic acts such as Nicki Minaj, Drake and Tyga. As he grew larger and larger, his battles with Birdman also grew and slowly but surely, they fell out. However, there is no denying that Birdman helped Carter transform from an eight-year-old aspiring half-decent emcee to a mogul.