All throughout middle school, I was the biggest Lil Wayne fan. I knew every word to every song by heart. While a lot of people thought that perhaps T.I. was the best rapper out at the time, I found myself to be one of a few believing that the title actually belonged to Wayne. I would be in debates everyday at lunch arguing over about who was better. I would always back my arguments by beginning with the monumental mixtape run that propelled Weezy to that number one spot. The run started in 2004 and came to an end in 2009. To me, it’s the greatest mixtape run in Hip Hop history.
The Prefix (2004) & The Suffix (2005)
In 2004, Weezy dropped the first installment of the Tha Carter. He also dropped a mixtape hosted by DJ Khaled title the The Prefix, though it didn’t gain much traction because of the release of Tha Carter. In 2005 he dropped the follow up to The Prefix which was The Suffix. These mixtapes featured an array of freestyles where Wayne would just spazz out.
The Dedication (2005) & The Dedication 2 (2006)
Now, let’s really get into where Weezy started to get his momentum in 2005. Around this time in the rap game, there were speculations that Weezy might sign with Jay Z and the Roc. He addressed the rumors on a skit on The Dedication.
While on the subject of skits, this tape had some legendary ones. I miss when projects had skits, especially when they’re done as well as the ones on The Dedication.
Wayne linked up with DJ Drama for not just the first installment of The Dedication series, but for the second one as well around this time. Wayne kept the same formula from previous mixtapes for both of these, where he would freestyle on various beats. The most memorable freestyle on this tape for me was his “Stillettos” freestyle.
The Dedication 2 came right after the Hurricane Katrina destroyed parts of New Orleans, so this tape provided some relief to the victims. Wayne expresses his dismay on a 7-minute track titled “Georgia… Bush.” Wayne completely obliterated George Bush on this song. This was essentially a George Bush diss track, as he felt that Bush had a lot to do with the aftermath of the natural disaster when it came to relief for victims. During the first half of this song, he raps over Goodie Mob’s “Georgia” track and then for the for the second half he raps on Tupac’s legendary “Ambitionz Az A Ridah.”
Overall, this is a tape you can play straight through, no skips. To date, this is my favorite Wayne mixtape ever. The tape has a few features on there from Curren$y, Pharrell, Mack Maine, and of course Juelz Santana.
Listen kids, before it was Lil Wayne and Drake killin’ tracks together, it was Lil Wayne and Juelz who would shut shit down. Unfortunately, their collab mixtape is on the list of others throughout history that we’ll never have delivered to us. On Dedication 2, they teamed up twice. First, on “Welcome to the Concrete Jungle” and then again on “No Other.” My favorite song on this album is “Walk It Off.” Wayne floated all over this Mannie Fresh beat.
“I’mma jalapeno boy, hot as cayenne pepper/I’m from New Orleans city, but I’ll take her to wherever/ I’m tougher than leather, I’m smoother than suede. Always never broke cause I’m usually paid.” – Lil Wayne, “Walk It Off”
Lil Weezy Ana (2006)
This has to be the least talked about mixtape to me; underrated to say the least. It was like a posse mixtape featuring a lot of songs with his crew Young Money. Even 2 Chainz (at the time under the name Tity Boi) made an appearance on this tape. They teamed up for the song “Grew Up a Screw Up,” another freestyle for Wayne over one of Ludacris‘ songs. If you’ve ever been to the club and the DJ play’s “Im The Man” by Shawty Lo and doesn’t transition it into Wayne’s version, I truly feel sorry for you. Weezy hopped on this song and took over. Even when I hear the original version, I tend to still rap Weezy’s version.
Da Drought 3 (2007)
2007 Wayne comes back with another mixtape. At this point, Weezy is something like the mixtape king if you ask me. Some would say Gucci was the mixtape king but he was’t giving out bars like Wayne was and that is a fact.Also, during this time it was pretty safe to say that Wayne was an honorary member of Dipset. Da Drought 3 dropped in May 2007, I would say this is “prime” Wayne. He was spazzing on every track on this double-disc mixtape. Weezy even hopped on Beyonce’s “Let Me Upgrade U” and he we went bonkers on it. What he was doing to other peoples beats was really unheard of!
“Even deaf bitches say “Hi” to me/She tell a blind bitch and she say “I gotta see!” – Lil Wayne, “Upgrade U” freestyle
Wayne’s wordplay and metaphors were top knotch at this point of his career. Along with the “Upgrade U” freestyle, he hopped on Mike Jones’ “Mr. Jones” and named it “The Sky is the Limit.” Still to this day, I have not heard the original version and I don’t plan to. This was like the hood nigga national anthem back in ’07. This is definitely one of my favorite songs on the mixtape.
Also on this tape, Wayne hopped on a couple Dipset tracks and went crazy on them. One being Jim Jones’ “Reppin Time.” I’ve always loved this beat and obviously Weezy did too because he snapped.
Being a few years removed from making music with legendary producer Mannie Fresh, Wayne hopped on T.I.’s “Top Back” song too. Wayne starts off the track by paying homage to T.I., calling him the King of The South, and referring to himself as the best rapper alive. He then shows love to Mannie Fresh for the beat.
No Ceilings (2009)
They say that all good things must come to an end. Unfortunately in 2009, mixtape Weezy was forced to end. Personally, I feel like Wayne went out with a bang though. He was facing prison time on a gun charge in New York. Before he left us though, he gave us No Ceilings. Some say this is Wayne’s best mixtape out of this iconic era, but I respectfully disagree.
It really didn’t matter what type of song it was, Wayne did not discriminate when it came to jackin’ beats. He proved that throughout this era, especially when he jumped on “Swag Surf.” That song is considered a “turn up” song, not particularly meant for bars, but do you think Wayne cared? The answer is hell no! He jumped on that beat and delivered bar after bar.
“Man I’m too much for these niggas and three much for these hoes./ The world is in my hands and I keep my hands closed.” – Lil Wayne, “Swag Surf”
In 2009, Jay Z dropped the Blueprint 3 and on that album it featured “D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune).” Around this time in the rap game, rappers were abusing auto-tune. Wayne was guilty of it, and Jay wasn’t here for it. In the third verse of the song, Jay says “I might send this to the mixtape Weezy.” Some rappers would have caught feelings and felt a way, not Wayne. He heard that line and instantly hopped on the track for this mixtape and got busy. Wayne even finished the track with the Jay Z sample from D.O.A. Weezy accepted the challenge and killed it.
“Spit fire like I’m sippin on a molotov/Loose bowels, this shit so easy.. (I might send this to the mixtape, Weezy)” – Lil Wayne, “D.O.A.”
Lil Wayne always paid homage to the legends that came before him. He was actually featured on Hov’s “Hello Brooklyn” in 2007. On that song, there was a line on where he said “She said she eating on the run, but she ain’t N.O.R.E.” Two years later he hopped on N.O.R.E.’s legendary posse cut, “Banned From TV” for No Ceilings.
My favorite song on this whole mixtape was Wayne’s remix to “Run This Town.” This is one of the hardest freestyles I’ve ever heard. There’s so many quotable bars on this song that I probably could do a whole article on this song alone. Every time I listen to this joint I get the chills; it’ that serious to me. In this era, I feel like Wayne could rap on any style of beat. On here, his flow was outstanding and metaphors were unmatched.
“Watch me like DVD/VCR. Pump to your chest I ain’t talkin’ CPR/ Ridin’ this track like a motherfuckin street car”
This run was crazy and I don’t think anyone can ever do what Lil Wayne did. The only person that comes to mind is Future with his most recent run of Monster, Beast Mode, and 56 Nights.
When I decided to put this article together, I didn’t realize how long it would be. I could literally do an article to each mixtape in this era. There was a few tapes that didn’t make the cut, like the Squad Up series of tapes and The Drought Is Over series. I feel like this run cemented Wayne as a rap legend and no one could ever take that from him.