This Is Who Lil Wayne Has Always Been

Even if cosigning Trump was a natural progression of Wayne’s politics, it still felt like a slap in the face

When Dwayne Carter was 12, he put a gun to his chest and pulled the trigger. He lay on the floor bleeding to death until Robert Hoobler, an off-duty police officer who Lil Wayne now affectionately calls “Uncle Bob,” found him and saved his life. That life-changing moment has influenced the rapper’s relationship with police and those who align themselves with law enforcement — an effect you’ve noticed even if you weren’t aware of the cause.

Earlier this year, for instance, he went on Fat Joe’s Instagram Live interview show to discuss George Floyd and replaced his usual red flag with a blue one, pointing his ire at the victims of police violence. “If we want to place the blame on anybody,” he said, “it should be ourselves for not doing more than what we think we’re doing.” He followed up that comment by praising “Uncle Bob” for holding him in his arms in the back of a cop car until medical care arrived. Maybe that story is why Wayne has been so adamantly anti-Black every time the conversation involves anything remotely political.

If you recall, when he was asked about Black Lives Matter during a Nightline interview in 2016, his response was essentially that it didn’t concern him because he’s a celebrity with rich fans. “That just sounds weird,” he said. “I don’t even know why you put a name on it. It’s not a name. It’s not ‘whatever, whatever.’ It’s somebody got shot by a policeman for a fucked up reason… I am a young, black, rich motherfucker. If that don’t let you know that America understand black motherfuckers matter these days, I don’t know what it is. Don’t come at me with that dumb shit, ma’am. My life matter, especially to my bitches.”

There’s an argument for Wayne on rap’s Mount Rushmore. But that’s no longer the extent of his legacy.

Both of those comments are embarrassingly stupid, but I think some people were holding on to a belief — or more precisely, a hope — that the comments were more a reflection of whatever Wayne was sipping at the time. After all, this was still an MC who could go in the booth and make a song like “Georgia…Bush,” lambasting a president for his Katrina response, or scream “fuck the police” whenever he had the chance (sometimes literally). Maybe it was an assumption that folks like Wayne would come around when we really need them. Maybe it was just the undeserved grace we dole out to men no matter what they do to us.

Cut to: yesterday.

None of those excuses matter anymore. The picture of Lil Wayne, who can’t vote, shaking Donald Trump’s hand and endorsing his Platinum Plan via tweet last night was premeditated. Calculated. Planned. He even put on a goofy ass junior varsity Quidditch sweater for the occasion. Even if this was a natural progression of Wayne’s politics based on his previous comments, it felt like a slap in the face — and we have a right to be pissed off by it.

It feels particularly painful in this moment, as we watch the GOP mobilizing to use Black male celebrities to lure Black men to support Trump — a campaign that’s been as surreal as it has been infuriating. First Kanye, then 50 Cent, Ice Cube, and now Wayne have either disparaged the Biden campaign in favor of Trump or explicitly backed a second term for the 45th President.

And they’re all doing this leading right up to Election Day.

At the very moment the Lil Wayne endorsement hit Twitter, I was actually talking about him with some friends: his career longevity, my memories of collecting his mixtapes when I was in high school in Mississippi, how he tore up 2007 with one of the most legendary years in rap history. There’s an argument for Wayne on rap’s Mount Rushmore. But that’s no longer the extent of his legacy. He’s now a part of a watershed moment in which hip-hop’s misogyny is revealing its dangerous entanglement with political power and oppression. This moment goes on Wayne’s resume, and it will stay there forever.

The story of “Uncle Bob” has an epilogue. In 2012, Robert Hoobler responded to a call that a 32-year-old Black man named Leron Anderson was violating a protective order by going to the mother of his children’s house. Hoobler tossed Anderson in the cop car and hurled insults at him; Anderson responded by kicking the car door. Hoobler tased Anderson in the chest — once, then three more times. Uncle Bob was later fired from the Jefferson Parish Police Department in 2012.

Hoobler was fired for the tasing. What he wasn’t fired for was calling Anderson a “stupid ass n****r.” And if that doesn’t let you know how America feels about Black lives, I don’t know what does.

Level Sr. Writer covering Race, Culture, Politics, TV, Music. Previously: The Undefeated, The Atlantic, Washington Post. Forthcoming book: The Movement Made Us

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