One of the less-publicized affiliations in Hip Hop is the friendship between Lil Wayne and Strange Music. During the star rapper’s 2010 incarceration on Rikers Island in New York, it was Strange’s founders Tech N9ne and Travis O’Guin that were among Wayne’s visitors. Upon Wayne’s release, he and Tech N9ne began a collaborative history that led to songs on both Tech’s All 6’s & 7’s, and Wayne’s Tha Carter IV.
Speaking with Travis O’Guin earlier this week, HipHopDX inquired about Strange Music’s reaction to the news of Lil Wayne’s seizures and subsequent hospitalization. With the Strange roster regularly touring, recording and maintaining a tireless work ethic, DX also pressed Trav for any advice or insights into the exhaustion Wayne’s been reportedly suffering from.
“The first thing is, we were on the very first night of our [Independent Power House] Tour on the 15th, and we were getting all the notifications,” explained Travis. “People were bringing us the TMZ articles about his [reportedly receiving] Last Rites. Tech [N9ne] and I were devastated for the entire [night]. We got with Muggs, our key security guy. He was trying to get a hold of [Birdman], and he finally did get a hold of him. We talked to him and he said no, it’s not as crazy as it sounds in the media. It was enlightening.”
“Of course, Tech reached out to Wayne via text and a phone call. I don’t know if he connected with him—but the fact that this dude is in ICU—I think he just sent his well-wishes,” Travis continued. He also spoke about the overall criticism he’s received from some fans about the friendship and admiration. “I’ll tell you something. I dig [Lil] Wayne. So many people, even our own fans, are often times saying, ‘Wayne is mainstream bullshit. Fuck this.’ We don’t feel that way. I want to make that clear. That dude is 100 with me when spent time in Rikers [Island], three hours talking to him. I learned a lot about that guy. When we went to Miami to record on Tha Carter IV, I learned a hell of a lot more, and when he came to Kansas City and spent the entire day at Strange Music [headquarters] and busted out the skateboard ramp, hung out, and had a barbeque; I am not just a Wayne fan. I consider myself a friend of the guy.”
Speaking from experience with his own artists, Travis spoke about Lil Wayne’s reported fatigue. “I can honestly tell you that the schedule he must have—I mean I know what our schedule is, and it’s insanity. You have to really be focused on your health in order to maintain the type of schedule we have even with just Tech and his level of success. I can’t even begin to imagine how rigorous the schedule must be for Wayne. You have everybody pulling him in a million different directions, trying to do a million different things along with the most successful artists in entertainment in Nicki Minaj, Drake and all the things that Cash Money/Young Money is doing. That’s hard to maintain a great physical and mental mindset. It would be borderline impossible. There has to be anxiety, physical tolls that are taken.”
Like Mack Maine and Birdman, Travis dismissed reports of drug use—based on his own experience with the superstar rapper. “I don’t know what all the fucking reports are with syrup and all that shit. I know that every time I’ve seen Wayne, the only thing I’ve seen him do is light up a cigar one time. In Miami or Kansas City, it wasn’t no shit going on like that. I don’t know what the stories are with the supposed drug use, but I know what the physical toll that an insanely intense schedule can cause. It did it to me last year. I got pneumonia twice. I don’t smoke or drink. I fucked around and got a cold that ended up turning into walking pneumonia two times in one year. That’s my schedule that kicked my ass. That’s me compared to fucking Wayne? C’mon.”
One step further, Travis took umbrage with some of what he heard in the media and from the industry. “All the people out there that are saying all this shit and making the fucking stupid jokes that aren’t funny at all, and the shit’s talking about the fact that it’s sizzurp or these drugs and shit, if you motherfuckers really don’t know, shut the fuck up. Just shut up and let him recover. It’s serious to have to go to the hospital and for him to be in ICU, man, have some compassion for another human being and shut the fuck up. Hope for the best and hope that he gets better, not for the state of Hip Hop, but the state of his family.”
O’Guin closed his answer, wishing Wayne a fast recovery. “We were really fucked up hoping to get some good word back and hope that this dude is okay. That’s really the nuts and bolts. I really wish him the best and I hope he recovers. I hope that if it’s his schedule doing it to him or whatever it is, that he takes the time to focus on himself and get better because I’d like to see him around for a really long time.”