Earlier this month, Lil Wayne debuted his vivid, harsh journals from his time in prison titled Gone ‘Til November: A Journal of Rikers Island. The deeply personal collection follows the eight months he spent in the New York prison in 2010, and below is a pair of exclusive excerpts from the collection.
In a passage titled “Harshness,” Wayne recounts the intense mental trauma he gained from his experience. He also hints at the suicide attempt he references in his new verse from Solange’s “Mad,” explaining how the “mental isolation” opened up a new, dark reality for the rapper.
Woke up around 5:00 a.m., made myself some coffee and went straight back to sleep. No lie, I didn’t wake back up until 2:30. It was close to lock-in. So I just stayed in my cell until lock-out.
Soon as it was lock-out, I headed straight to the phone. Afterwards, made myself a Ruffles burrito. There wasn’t that much going on in the dayroom, so I headed back to my cell to escape in my thoughts.
I ended up thinking about all types of shit. One thing that stood out was how I’ve never been this close to suicide before. It’s truly a new reality for me. I was actually there when this kid that was in mental isolation tried to hang up. What’s really fucked up is that it all could’ve been prevented if the [correctional officers] would’ve just brought him some water.
Since he was MI, nobody really attends to him because they are used to them banging on their cells all the time yelling shit like, “Yo, CO…CO.” And being that they’re so used to them banging, they didn’t pay him any mind and by the time they got back there, he was trying to kill himself.
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And because I was in jail, I was like, Damn, that nigga is crazy … Oh well, what are we eating tonight? Jail desensitizes a lot of things. The reality in here is so harsh. I will never understand how anyone could think that this shit is cool.
I also thought about how I could’ve avoided some of the arguments that I had with those dudes who got shipped to wherever they got shipped to. I’m not sure if the rest of their stint got easier or tougher. Hopefully it didn’t get any tougher for them, but if it did, I feel like I was the reason for that. And I don’t like having that feeling, since I know in my heart that I could’ve avoided some of those arguments … especially knowing that this person is going to get shipped away for just arguing with me. I truly do regret having some of those arguments … but fuck ’em.
I just got back in my cell from being on the phone. My spirit is really feeling lifted right now because I was able to speak with all my kids tonight. They are all my joy.
It’s lock-in, so you know what that means … push-ups, Bible, prayer, slow jams and sleep.
In the book’s final chapter, Wayne recalls the exuberant burst of creative and positive energy he felt on his final night in prison. He prepares himself to be reunited with his children and make it back onstage where he’s felt most at home, especially since his time in prison reaffirmed how much he cherishes and owns his creativity.
A [correctional officer] asked me what time am I going to wake up since I get released tomorrow. I’m like, shit, wake up? I’m not going sleep in this motherfucka tonight! I’m gonna be sitting up waiting on y’all motherfuckas until it’s time to get me!
My mind is racing! Just one more night up in this bitch! I’m not sure what to do first.
How is it going to be to hug my kids again? Is it possible for them to have missed me as much as I miss them? If they let me, that first hug is going to be for an hour straight.
How is it going to be around my niggas again? Are they going to look at me different? Will I look at them different? When we hit the club tonight, it’s probably going to be so surreal for me at first.
Although I’ve been getting much love from my fans since I’ve been in here, how is it going to be once I hit that stage again? The stage has always felt like home to me, but I haven’t had a break from being onstage for this long since I was 13. But on second thought, the stage has always been my home, so I’m actually looking forward to merking it the first chance that I get … YEAH!
I have so many things going thru my mind right now. Jail has changed me forever. The greatest positive that I take away from this bullshit is that I was able to tap into a depth of creativity that I never knew was in me. I’ve always thought I needed things like being high with my niggas, a Bugati, a dope-ass crib or some big-booty bitches to be creative. But once all that was taken away from me, my creativity was put to the ultimate test. And I passed that shit like a muthafucka! I’ve never felt more creative in my life!
The ultimate high is to know that creativity can never be taken away from me by anyone or anything. I’m so grateful to not have been mentally scarred by being up in this bitch. I’ve unfortunately seen a lot of spirits get broken in this hellhole. I don’t wish jail on anybody.
Final thought … A butterfly landed on me when I went to the yard the other day. For whatever reason, I felt connected to it and got lost in the beauty of seeing a butterfly in hell able to fly away.
And I’m up out this bitch….
From Gone ‘Til November by Lil Wayne, published by Plume, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2016 by Young Money Entertainment/Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr.