Shelly Bell, Writer
According to “Tha Carter Documentary,” just over a year ago, Lil Wayne spent his days continuously high on a mix of promethazine mixed with codeine (lean), while listening to his own voice via previous recordings. A steady diet of your own voice and regular drug use has produced what Lil Wayne, and possibly now by extension Billboard Magazine, consider genius. Whether the nature of Weezy’s output is to be considered “hard work” or completely delusional is a definite point of contention, but nevertheless, at 5 AM on September 27th, Billboard reporter Gary Trust reported the following headline: “Lil Wayne Passes An All-Time Elvis Presley Hot 100 Mark.” Though I scrambled to read the headline, what the seemingly omniscient internet doesn’t know is that I had just spent two hours of my life watching a Lil Wayne “Tha Carter Documentary” as well as his random video post on the YMCMB Youtube channel after Steve Jobs died. Billboard.com is not aware that after watching all of this, and being aware of his accomplishment, I have concluded that he is less genius, more high, and has been rapping since he was eight years old. Why is that non sequitur so important? According to NY Times best seller “The Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell it takes 10,000 hours of doing something to be an expert. If Lil Wayne has been rapping since he was eight years old then it comes as no surprise that he is good at it.
On the surface, Lil Wayne gains another accolade, however, reading is fundamental! The article notes that some of Elvis Presley’s signature hits like “Heartbreak Hotel” and “Hound Dog” predated the Hot 100. According to Joel Whitburn’s “Top Pop Singles” reference book Presley placed 31 titles on pre-Hot 100 Billboard airplay/sales/jukebox charts between 1956 and summer 1958. It has taken Lil Wayne 13 years to pass Presley’s mark which do not account for the days prior to the existence of the Billboard Hot 100. It is likely that Presley’s mark would be much higher and reached in a much shorter time span if the Hot 100 existed at the time he began his career. The writer noted that less than 50% of the songs that made the Billboard Hot 100 chart in which they are considering Lil Wayne to have beat out Elvis Presley are songs that he was the lead on. Which means the majority of the songs in consideration are features.
Regardless of drug use I could never take away from Lil Wayne’s hard work as an artist. It’s possible that every great artist’s success is associated with drugs or publicly unacceptable behavior in some way. I just feel that the mainstream and the fans could be a little more careful with what we consider “genius.” The bottom line is that Elvis Presley is still number 1 for having the most songs as lead artist. In reality, Lil Wayne in all of his diligence passed Elvis Presley’s mark in the most lackluster manner possible, by featuring on songs that made the Hot 100 chart NOT by having his own entirely solo performances that made the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. Is that genius, happenstance, or the developed ability to write one great verse more than once?