From his DJ Drama-assisted mixtape, 2005’s Dedication, until the release of Tha Carter III last year, Lil Wayne seemingly appeared to rap on just about every big hip-hop record. Since then, the number of songs he’s graced has slowed as he’s been busy putting the finishing touches on his forthcoming rock record Rebirth, working on a compilation LP for his label Young Money and flirting with a Hot Boys reunion project. So what are Weezy’s best tracks? Here’s a rundown of 10 essential Wayne numbers since the Cash Money standout really became the “Best Rapper Alive.”
“Ransom” – Drake featuring Lil Wayne (Internet)
Weezy rides shotgun with his newest protégée Drake, delivering some interesting news about a visit to the good doctor’s office … Dr. Dre, that is: “ZZ Top, yes, he rock/ and me and Drizzy both wrote on Detox.”
“He Raps, He Sings, It’s T-Wayne” – Lil Wayne & T-Pain (T-Wayne LP/Mixtape)
The Auto Tune twins play role reversal on this rumbling “Best of Both Worlds”-styled track with Teddy P spittin’ 16 bars and Wayne beltin’ out a vocoder-assisted verse.
“Let’s Talk Money” – Pimp C featuring Lil Wayne (The Naked Soul of Sweet James Jones)
50 Cent has been baiting Lil Wayne nonstop on record and in interviews for the past year, but the Cash Money MC usually deflects the attention saying how honored he is that a huge star recognizes him. But Wayne took his first swipe at Fif late last year on “Lousianamal” and strikes again here: “That nigga Pimp called me before he left this bitch/ Told me keep doin’ ya thing and don’t tell 50 shit.”
“Unstoppable” – Drake featuring Lil Wayne (So Far Gone)
Young Angel (“My name is Drizzy and I ain’t perfect/ but I work hard, so I deserve it”) and Young Lion (“My name is Weezy, I’m almost perfect/ and I work harder than hard workin’ “) lyrically spar on this Santigold-inspired sample that connects the hipsters with the ‘hood crowd.
“By Myself” – Lil Wayne & Juelz Santana (My Face Can’t Be Felt)
The pair sparked Internet frenzy a few years ago during the height of the Coke Rap-era when they announced they’d be collaborating on a project that was originally titled I Can’t Feel My Face. Since then, Weezy has shot up to superstardom while Juelz has languished in label limbo until recently; this is the first offering from the revamped mixtape now — somewhat awkwardly titled My Face Can’t Be Felt.
“Jackin’ Swagga From Us” – Jim Jones featuring Lil Wayne, Noe, and Twista (Unreleased)
Lil Wayne bites the hand that feeds him once again by by joining Jones on this anti-Jay-Z crusade. Weezy may not mention Hov at all, but after first dissin’ the elder Carter in a 2006 Complex magazine interview (“It’s not your house anymore”) before bowing down to him (“Mr. Carter”), it’s not too smart for him to get on this track, a somewhat funny — though slightly underwhelming — interpretation of T.I.’s “Swagger Like Us.”
“Every Girl” – Lil Wayne featuring Drake, Jae Millz, Gudda Gudda, and Mack Maine (Young Money)
The “Greatest Rapper Alive” follows in the footsteps of the real greatest rapper alive, Jay-Z, and introduces his own crew, Young Money. This raunchy boys club romp is the first offering from the collective’s upcoming compilation album until the official single is selected later this year.
“Red Magic” – Lil Wayne & The Game (Unreleased)
This Jay-Z-obsessed pair planned to release a mixtape collaboration titled Blood Brothers, but the project — much like I Can’t Feel My Face — hasn’t seen the light of day. On this energetic “Roc Boys” flip, they gratuitously salute everything from red Poshes, red Chucks, and (of course) red carpets.
“Turn My Swag On” (Remix) – Soulja Boy Tell’em featuring Lil Wayne (iSouljaBoyTellem)
The breakout artist of 2007 was his way to becoming the biggest bust of 2008 until Weezy jumped on this SB album cut and transformed it into an underground smash (and reportedly the next single from the youngin’) with lines like: “Ganster to the Grissel, swagger unofficial/ I’m the shit and you, you just a maggot on the tissue.”
“Magic City” (Remix) – Jadakiss featuring Lil Wayne (The Last Kiss)
The raspy-voiced MCs link on this bouncy, guitar-laced ode to clubs, cat calling, and cash. “We cut the ears and the tail off Mickey Mouse/ never been a rat, never had him in the house/ Call me Captain Kangaroo, but I got money in my pouch/ And I don’t mean loose change when I say there’s money in the couch.”