We Need Lil Wayne Around No Matter What Kind of Songs He’s Making

Day 359: “Marble Floors” feat. Rick Ross, Lil Wayne, and 2 Chainz – French Montana, Excuse My French, 2013

In the spring of 2013, TMZ reported that Lil Wayne was on his deathbed, sending the world into a panic. He had reportedly suffered a series of seizures related to his cough syrup use. Supposedly he was being administered his final rites.

I remember it was a Friday evening, and I was at a work party. My coworkers were having a great time, playing beer pong in a conference room and teasing me for being such a wet blanket. I stood against a wall by my desk, glued to my phone, panicking over the possibility that the greatest rapper of our generation, one of my heroes, might be gone forever. It’s not like I could have done anything. But it was still terrifying. I remember considering Wayne’s legacy, thinking of all the ways his music had filtered out through the world, all the ways that it had influenced me. What would it have been like without Lil Wayne around all of the sudden? Ultimately, the report was revealed to be an exaggeration. Lil Wayne had been hospitalized for seizures, but he was in stable condition. Soon, everyone forgot about it and moved on.

Last night, just a few hours after I wrote about Lil Wayne’s tortuous relationship with cough syrupover the years, TMZ again reported that the rapper had been hospitalized in Chicago for seizures, forcing him to cancel a show in Vegas. A less charitable headline on the site today declared, “Lil Wayne: BEEN DOUBLE CUPPIN’ ALL YEAR Despite Battling Seizures.” A similar hospitalization occurred last year. Onlookers say it’s because of the drugs; Wayne maintains that it’s simply part of a long-running battle with epilepsy. This afternoon, Wayne’s daughter Reginae tweeted that he is fine, and the Chicago Tribune reported that yesterday he was “alert and oriented,” per Chicago Fire Department Commander Curtis Hudson. Additionally, he was not at the hospital as of this morning, the paper noted.

Hopefully, Lil Wayne is indeed doing fine and is not suffering from these seizures because of his drug use. I can’t say I’m optimistic that’s the case, but, as with that time in 2013, there’s not much I can do either way. But I’m still prompted to think about Lil Wayne’s influence at a time like this. I’ve been struck, even as I’ve spent the year writing about Lil Wayne, by how many places in rap music he appears. Every day, it seems like, I find a new guest verse or remember a song that felt impactful at the time and has since faded into relative obscurity. This morning, before I’d even heard the news of Lil Wayne’s hospitalization, I was reminded of this fact, as I realized that Lil Wayne is on the French Montana song “Marble Floors.”

I actually get this song stuck in my head fairly often: Rick Ross’s hook is just that memorable. But I’d totally forgotten that a) it wasn’t a Rick Ross song and b) it also featured Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz, a fact of which I was reminded while looking up 2 Chainz facts on Wikipedia. Wayne’s part is fine. He has a punchline calling undercover cops pigs in blankets, and he ends the verse with a smirking pause about saying fuck everyone. There are a thousand better Lil Wayne verses, if not more. There are countless other singles where Lil Wayne does something more memorable. But the fabric of rap is made up of all the ephemeral shit that seems to matter for a few weeks and then fades back into history. And no one is more a part of that fabric than Lil Wayne. Even when he’s not changing the sound of the music or scoring the biggest hits in the world, he’s there, being a part of it.

So when we hear news that Lil Wayne is headed to the hospital, there’s more to our fear than the baseline empathy for his health or even the familiar panic that he might be killing himself with drugs. There’s also an immediate understanding of what he represents, of what is at risk for the culture at large each time he avoids a more serious health crisis. I want Lil Wayne to stay healthy for his own sake, and I want him to stay healthy for the sake of continuing to have a long and fruitful career full of many more innovations. But I also want him to stay healthy so that he can continue being a completely unremarkable feature of unremarkable rap songs.

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