Replace Ramsey’s city with any other and his story is not that unusual. We all experienced Lil Wayne in 2007 through a constant stream of unannounced music. We found Lil Wayne in unofficial mixtapes, sent to us by friends, and we found the songs late at night on dodgy websites. I downloaded everything I could through Limewire, and many of my friends did the same: I remember seeing my girlfriend’s laptop in around February of ‘07, with her downloads open and over 100 Lil Wayne songs queued up. Others used Datpiff, which had the full mixtapes, but it was difficult to judge which tapes actually came from the rapper and which were being repurposed by others looking to hop on Weezy’s back.
Over the course of the year, the public’s expectation for the music was more different than it’s ever been. Normally, we eagerly wait for our favorite artists to release new music. In ‘07, we played catch-up.
All of this makes it difficult today to track what he actually did five years ago. But here it goes anyway.
There is no denying that Wayne started the year mainly with guest spots. Coming off his successful 2006 collaboration with DJ Drama, Dedication Part 2, Wayne parlayed his status into getting on tracks with DJ Khaled, Swizz Beatz, and Lloyd. His collaboration with Lloyd, “You,” charted high, his first Billboard top-10 appearance ever, but it was a rote, simple verse, sounding much like his job on Destiny Child’s 2004 hit “Soldier.” It was there primarily to add hip-hop cred to an R&B’er.
The first indicator that his rhymes could be something special came with the remixes to “It’s Me, Bitches” and “We Takin’ Over,” released Feb. 13 and Mar. 27, respectively. If you haven’t heard it in a while, listen again to “It’s Me, Bitches”: Wayne begins the song with mangled French, jacked haphazardly from “Lady Marmalade.” “Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?” he says, then he affects a Jamaican accent he would later reuse for the intro of Da Drought 3, using it to play off a single phrase “jump off” and making the innocuous words sound more twisted and perverted than ever before: “Jump on jump off, the girl is a jump off/I let her snort a mountain and she just jumped off/Jump on jump off, you know she a jump off/Pull my dick out and watch her jump on jump off.”
“We Takin’ Over,” meanwhile, is more of a bid for mainstream success, featuring perhaps the best verse of Weezy’s entire career. It’s only 30 seconds, but Jesus, it should be studied by anyone who ever wants to brag over a beat. “I am the beast,” he menacingly says. “Feed me rappers or feed me beats/I am untamed, I need a leash/I am insane, I need a shrink.”
After hearing that song, I couldn’t get enough. This was the most unexpected and charismatic guy in music.