While Lil Wayne still waits to declare independence from Cash Money Records, the rapper has dropped a Fourth of July gift for fans: His long-awaited Free Weezy Album, now dubbed simply FWA. The mixtape comes a month after the rapper first announced that he was joining Jay Z’s streaming venture Tidal as a co-owner; FWA is streaming exclusively on Tidal. The opening song on FWA is the relentless “Glory,” which Weezy debuted on the streaming service in June after announcing his ownership stake.
The 15-track FWA features appearances by Young Jeezy (“White Girl”), Wiz Khalifa (“Feeling Right”), Young Money associate Cory Gunz, Capo and Black Uhuru’s Junior Reid (“Murda”), singer/songwriter Jake Troth (“My Heart Races On”), “Bitch Better Have My Money” writer Bibi Bourelly (“Without You”) and others. “I honestly gotta say that this #FWA album is my best work yet! I won’t let u down as a fan,” Weezy tweeted in April. “Dis sh!t is a beast! Ok let me get bak 2da booth.”
FWA arrives six months after Weezy’s previous mixtape Sorry 4 the Wait 2, which itself was a consolatory release for fans anxiously waiting for the rapper’s indefinitely postponed Tha Carter V. The delayed fifth installment of Tha Carter series is just one of the gripes Lil Wayne has leveled against his record label Cash Money and mentor Bryan “Birdman” Williams in 2015. In February, Weezy sued Cash Money for $51 million, alleging that Birdman had withheld money owed to the rapper.
As Lil Wayne continued to fight with Cash Money over his owed money and the release of Tha Carter V, the rapper inked a deal with Tidal to share his FWA as well as potentially perform an exclusive show for the streaming service, a Tidal rep told Rolling Stone in June. While the “Glory” artwork dropped with a Young Money logo on the single’s cover, the FWA album art bears no mention of Cash Money or Young Money.
Last December, Lil Wayne tweeted “I want off this label” after Cash Money refused to release his Tha Carter V. “I want off this label and nothing to do with these people but unfortunately it ain’t that easy,” Weezy wrote. “I am a prisoner and so is my creativity. Again, I am truly sorry and I don’t blame ya if ya fed up with waiting for me and this album.” In his lawsuit against Cash Money, the rapper contended that the label actually withheld two studio albums. Weezy also revealed to Rolling Stone that he is no longer on speaking terms with Birdman.
Inspired by his fight for creative freedom, Lil Wayne told Rolling Stone of FWA, “I’m working on it every day, man. I guarantee it’s going to be something dope. If you don’t want a musician being creative, don’t get The Free Weezy Album.”
— Lil Wayne WEEZY F (@LilTunechi) July 4, 2015