Following the announcement of Brooklyn rapper Jay Z’s retirement in 2003, fellow artist Lil Wayne took it upon himself to dub himself the “best rapper alive” in the wake of Jay’s retirement. Weezy made the proclamation on Tha Carter record “Bring It Back” as he announced, “The best rapper alive since the best rapper retired.”
While speaking with Elliott Wilson of CRWN last week at South By Southwest, the self-proclaimed Jay Z fanatic revealed the reason as to why he honed in on the “best rapper alive” title following Jay’s retirement. According to Wayne, his claims to the title stemmed from the love he had for Jay Z as an artist and the need to “step up.”
“I loved Jay so much,” he said. “And then at that time I was super young and I was still—I was a fanatic of Jay Z…So, when he said he was retiring, I looked—I was like a basketball player looking up at Kobe or looking up at Jordan…LeBron. Somebody gotta step up. And you know, I felt like you said, I felt like nobody cared about what I said, so when you’re that person then what you say means the world to you.”
Wayne then touched on the Roc-A-Fella Records deal that didn’t quite come to fruition. He says that at the time he met Jay Z, the rapper merely expressed interest in his skills as an artist.
“It wasn’t like Jay was reaching out for me or nothing,” Lil Wayne said. “Like needed me, ‘I need—I want you over here.’ He expressed interest. And I took that and you know me…I was on the first thing smoking. So, I went over there and we met. I met with Jay. But the history turned out to be where history is.”
As far as the “best rapper alive” title is concerned, Lil Wayne revealed that he no longer uses the title due to his work at Young Money and the artists at the label.
“Because I have awesome artists. Simple and plain,” Wayne said when asked why he no longer uses the “best rapper alive” tile. “I have awesome artists. And I’m not trying to outshine them at all. And at that time I didn’t have that. So, when I was saying it like that I was like ‘I don’t care who on the mic.’ But now I have artists that I feel like ‘I want you to be better than me’…It ain’t about that now. You know? It ain’t about that. It’s about them. And it’s about us."
In addition to the artists at Young Money, Lil Wayne also referenced Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar during his CRWN interview. While speaking on the TDE emcee, he stated that hearing verses from artists like Kendrick can be exhausting.
“Honestly, I look at it like…Like if you hear an older athlete talk about the game and you see…Some of them keep it real and let you know ‘Man, I couldn’t get out here with these young boys,’” he said. “You know what I mean? They be like ‘Man’…So, that’s how I be looking at it now when I hear a Kendrick verse or something like that. I be like ‘Aw man, I’m tired of this, man.’ I am not about to be out here talking about ‘I’m the best.’ I don’t need nobody coming at my neck. None of that.”
Lil Wayne also shed a few details on his next studio album, Tha Carter V. He says he’s approaching the album like it’s his last project and is currently working with his team and “the usual suspects” on the LP.
In addition to briefly speaking on Tha Carter V during his CRWN interview, Lil Wayne also addressed the project during a recent interview with MTV News as he informed those watching that he plans on being more careful with his content this time around.
"I'm more careful about what I'm doing and trying to be more careful about what I'm saying and things like that,” the rapper said during an interview with MTV. "There were times where I didn’t care. It’s not that I didn’t care. It’s just that I knew that I had people above me or around me that was gonna make sure whatever I said or shouldn't have said or whatever I did or shouldn't have did. Well, now, I'm those people, and I'm telling me what I should do and what I shouldn't say and it’s awesome.”