The Significance of Lil Wayne Attending the University of Houston
Imagine it’s the first day of another year at your local university. The courtyard lawn is lush, the aura in the air is filled with the scents of the lingering last days of summer, students are draped in their freshest threads, and the spirit of hitting the books is in full swing. When you head to your class for the day, you go in with the attitude of meeting new classmates and being introduced to your teacher. These are the average expectations for any student who’s looking to start their semester the right way, but your average classroom experience goes out the window when a dread-headed Louisiana “Hot Boy” standing at 5’5″ makes his way into the room. Replacing his microphone and beats for a tablet filled with notes and a mind full of questions, Lil Wayne started a path for higher education at the University of Houston during a time when he was freestyling the legacy that he stands on today.
The time was 2002, a period during Wayne’s life where he was faced with the art of transition. This phase took him from being the youngest member of Cash Money Records to ultimately to being the face of the brand in the coming years. In the midst of carving his lane musically, he was gaining his intellectual ground as well. Wayne was taking classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays towards his major, Political Science, as well as other subjects like Psychology, using his spare days to focus on his craft. The balance between his education and his career put Wayne in a different class when it came to the overall aura of the Carter series. The many facets of Wayne’s success are attributed to his work ethic and how it made him into a machine with an abundance of gears, an appetite for destruction, and the will to define his path to greatness.
In The Fader, Nick Barat said: “Wayne would record an average of three to four songs every single night, and his workflow would be 8 pm to 8 am.” This work cycle would include guest appearances on the EA Sports’ Madden series or on tracks with Dr. Dre, Beyonce or Enrique Iglesias. The matter of Wayne completing this work in the midst of going to school shows how much was on his plate at the time. The Carter legacy was on the line, so Wayne had to capitalize from all angles and the fact that he wanted to surpass the goals that were ahead of him and made him an enigma, an enigma that couldn’t be stopped. It made this mere mortal from the 9th Ward section of New Orleans the embodiment of one word: invincible.
This source of confidence that oozed out of the pores of Mr. Carter reflected his rock star personality, open attitude, and the unpredictable characteristics he presents both on and off camera. The larger than life aspect of Wayne made him more than the Big Man on Campus while attending the University of Houston, but he was on the brink of reaching international success and transitioning into a mainstream market. Aside from having the likes of Paul Wall, Chamillionaire, and Master P attend the ‘Land of Coog’ at one point in time, there wasn’t an artist that strolled the same stomping grounds and attained a level of success with their artistry besides Wayne. This was a major win for the university as they has acquired a student in their system who was infiltrating and reconstructing a genre that needed someone different. Someone who chose to carve their path and trail-blaze a style of music that would nourish the young careers of Drake, Nicki Minaj, Curren$y, and more. Someone who differed the gateway of the average and opened the gates for the abnormal and the unique.
University of Houston. Photo: Startclass
Wayne benefited from this experience through his exposure to collegiate infrastructure and how it brought young people together, engaging in positive activities like charity drives, protests, distributing food to the less fortunate and more. He spoke with the Huffington Post about his college-focused philanthropy partnership with TIDAL. Wayne explained how his time at the university showed him that “[college students] have so many opportunities to make the world a better place, but they have a lot on their plates with the books, parties, and jobs at the same time. They have the world at their fingertips but the weight of the world on their shoulders.” His awareness of students’ needs gave way to Wayne’s humanistic side that wasn’t displayed as much as his superstar persona. So as much as he was the icon as we know him as now, he also tapped into his academic background and made him relatable to others when he planted his educational roots.
When rappers make the decision to attend college, it’s another hurdle they have to surpass. Just as they set their benchmark on selling records, getting nominated for awards, and getting recognized for their hard work, this is another goal of theirs that they strive to achieve. Lil Wayne had the weight of the world on his shoulders during the ascension of his career with a series of mixtapes, creating a trilogy of albums, breaking records and still found time to still define the odds in the classroom. Artists are here to make a change, they are here to serve a purpose for their listeners, and if one can inspire another to take the stage, I’m sure Dr. Carter can inspire others through academia as well.