LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - Lil Wayne always keeps it moving. That’s the one absolute you learn about the rapper after talking with him.
When Billboard caught up with Lil Wayne -- real name Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. -- it was a couple of days after he had finished a set of shows in London, Paris and Amsterdam -- and a week before he pled guilty to attempted weapon possession for an incident that occurred in 2007. Having barnstormed his way through 68 stateside shows during his top-grossing I Am Music and America’s Most Wanted tours in 2008 and 2009, he deserved a few days off. Instead, the Miami-based rapper was busy completing his free “No Ceilings” mixtape -- “A big thank you to fans for coming out and showing me love every single night” of the tours.
Several leaks from the Halloween release feature Wayne rapping over beats from Jay-Z’s “Run This Town” and Fabolous’ “Throw It in the Bag.” Slated for release just after the mixtape, on November 23, is the “Mr. Carter” EP, exclusive to Best Buy.
It’s all in anticipation of Wayne’s “Rebirth.” While his Universal Motown publicist didn’t respond to several requests for comment, another source at the label says that Wayne’s legal issues -- the rapper faces a possible one-year sentence; his hearing takes place in February -- will not impede the often-delayed album’s December 15 release. But one question looms: Can Lil Wayne keep it moving when it comes to maintaining his sales and touring success?
Billboard: How has touring helped shape your success thus far?
Lil Wayne: It’s played a big part in my career. I’ve been on the road since I was about 14. Since then there’s never been one city that I’ve been stable in for six months. Honestly, touring is just another part of my day. The stage comes at 9 p.m. OK, I eat at 12. (laughs) It’s natural for me, not a preparation. And I thank God for that every day.
Whether it’s a club or arena, I perform my ass off. I go out there and give it my all every single night. I would die onstage. Some people like to just go out there and have their song played with five people onstage, and you don’t even know who four of them are. You’ve got to go out there and perform. Once that works, people will come. And as long as people keep screaming when I step out there, I’ll keep giving them me.
Billboard: Do you have a sense of withdrawal when you’re not on the road?
Lil Wayne: As soon as you start to develop that sense of withdrawal, you get a call from your manager (in Wayne’s case, Cortez Bryant) telling you that you’ve got 60 nights coming up somewhere so you’ll be all right. (laughs) Honestly, the way my schedule is, my days -- even when I’m not on tour -- are still full. I’m in the studio every single night. There’s really never a moment for me to actually sit and breathe and even notice if I’m having withdrawal symptoms because I have to keep it moving. I just turned 27 on September 27, so I’m not in a rush to take any downtime.
Billboard: Speaking of keeping it moving, “Rebirth” is finally coming. Given earlier leaks from the project, did you make many changes to the final version?
Lil Wayne: As of now “Rebirth” is coming out as a double disc with a (disc of songs) by (artists on his label) Young Money. I had to add new cuts because a lot of things leaked, making people think they had an idea of what I was doing with “Rebirth” and what it would sound like. And I hated that because I never want anybody to think they know what I’m doing until I present it. So what I did was make it totally different -- I flipped it.
Billboard: Does the album still lean toward rock?
Lil Wayne: Yes, the album is still rock. I play guitar on 80 percent of the songs and there’s a lot of rock influences and rock beats. I also have (Blink-182 drummer) Travis Barker on the album.
But I don’t want people to think I’m trying to do something I can’t do. Don’t think you’re going to put on the album and hear me screaming and singing ... Don’t worry about that. (laughs) When people hear me say “rock,” they may get a little scared like, “Oh, God. What is he going to do?”
When I said I was doing a rock album, it was about doing a freedom thing. This album isn’t hip-hop. When I do my “Carter” albums, I know I’ve got to rap, I know I’ve got to spit -- I know the words I’ve got to say and the subjects I’ve got to talk about. I also know the things I shouldn’t say, the things I shouldn’t talk about.
There’s none of those limits on this album. I say what I want, how I want. That’s what this album is: a freedom album. And rock is the avenue that gives you that freedom.
I’m just having fun, that’s all. Trust me: People will like these songs. It’s my job to make them love them, but I know for a fact they’ll like them.
Billboard: What can we expect from the second disc by Young Money?
Lil Wayne: The expectations for Young Money are great. But I think they’ll meet them because everybody -- Drake, Nicki Minaj, Lil Chuckee, Shanell, Lil Twist, Tyga, Jae Millz, Gudda Gudda, Mack Maine and T-Streets -- works their asses off. Every song is great, which creates a dilemma because we don’t know what to pick as singles.
Billboard: Any truth to rumors that “Tha Carter IV” is coming this year as well?
Lil Wayne: No, no. “Carter IV” is coming next year at a proper time, like it’s supposed to.
Billboard: You recently did a guest feature on the new Weezer album. Any more rock projects on the horizon?
Lil Wayne: Weezer gave me a vivid picture of what they were trying to accomplish and it was wonderful to be a part of that. I also worked with Kid Rock and with Fall Out Boy -- Pete Wentz and I are real tight. Other than that, I’ve worked with Gym Class Heroes. And I’ve been kicking it with Green Day, but I’m not sure if we’ll get anything done real soon. You know me -- I’ve been out there doing things with everybody.
Billboard: Including working with Chris Brown, Madonna and Shakira. Do you get concerned about overexposure?
Lil Wayne: I just don’t understand the whole point about using yourself too much or doing too many features. This is work; this is a job that we’re doing, and you want to work as much as you can. I’ve been wanting to ask people, “You know, I get paid for those features, right? So do you think I’m getting paid too much or do you think I’m working too much? Is that what you’re asking me?” I don’t get it. All I’m doing is putting in overtime. (laughs)
Billboard: How is Drake’s solo album coming along?
Lil Wayne: He’s one of those guys who needs no help, (laughs) I don’t do anything but say, “Let me hear that song.” And I’m blown away with every word. I’m honored to have him. Knowing Drake, I want to say he’s probably finished with the project. But he’s one of those guys who keeps going back to put more icing on the cake.
Billboard: Is a Hot Boys reunion still in the works? (The rap group consisted of Juvenile, Lil Wayne, B.G. and Turk.)
Lil Wayne: I still agree with it -- let’s put it like that. There are four sides to this, and it’s hard getting four sides to come to the table. But I still agree.