Who is the hottest rapper today? Depending upon whom you ask that question you may get various answers. I remember asking a friend who he thought was the top rapper right now, and he said definitely Lil’ Wayne. A lot of folks reading this week may disagree, but he should be included if there is a debate. Just browsing his body of work we see that he has worked with countless hip hop and pop music artists, including in November 2008 becoming the first hip hop act to appear on the Country Music Association Awards performing alongside Kid Rock.
Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr. (Lil’ Wayne) is not new to the hip hop game by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, the New Orleans native joined Cash Money Records in 1991 at the age of nine, becoming the youngest member of the label. He recorded his debut studio album, The Block is Hot in 1999, and it was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of American (RIAA). The years following his debut Lil’ Wayne went on to record several hit albums, but his mixtapes and collaborations with various artists would place him at the top of the hip hop game today.
Accompanying all the fame and fortune would be the array of rumors and stories along with some legal problems. Lil’ Wayne was arrested several times on an array of drug and gun charges and in 2010 served eight months of a year-long sentence in New York on weapons charges. Last month Lil’ Wayne was in the news for another reason; reported health issues. Of course, this was not the first time media sources had reported that Lil’ Wayne was suffering with health problems. There were several reports in October 2012 of Lil’ Wayne suffering seizures once while traveling in-flight to Los Angeles, which forced the plane to make an emergency landing in Texas. At the time his representatives claimed that the reports had been exaggerated, and that Lil’ Wayne was resting at home in Louisiana. In a November 2012 interview with MTV, Lil Wayne revealed that he was taking seizure medication, on doctors’ orders, due to the October 2012 incidents. Subsequently Lil’ Wayne suffered seizures last month that hospitalized the star and provoked more rumors of his near death.
Was Lil’ Wayne really so close to dying? It might be best to hear it from Lil’ Wayne himself as opposed to the media and public relations representatives. HuffPost Healthy Living on March 29th printed an interview of Lil’ Wayne with Power 106‘s DJ Felli Fel where he said the following: “The thing is, man, the bad news is, I’m an epileptic, I’m prone to seizures. This isn’t my first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh seizure. I’ve had a bunch of seizures; y’all just never hear about them. This time it got real bad because I had three of ’em in a row, and on the third one, my heart rate went down to, like, 30 percent. Basically, I could’ve died. So, that’s why it was so serious.” No more rumors, the seizures were of the serious nature and we also know the cause: epilepsy. As I read this I wondered a couple of things: 1) are there other musicians who have epilepsy and 2) how has it affected their ability to perform?
First of all if you have ever seen someone suffer an epileptic seizure you know that it is frightening! As a child I remember a couple of family friends who suffered from epilepsy and the seizures were serious and required immediate attention from family members and friends who happened to understand necessary first aid. My mom knew about epilepsy and was always calm in the face of emergency. I was surprised to learn that Adam Horovitz of the Beastie Boys and singer-songwriter Neil Young both suffer from epilepsy. There are many entertainers who also cope with epilepsy and continue to perform every day. According to a report from the Mayo Clinic, “epilepsy can be controlled, but not cured, with medication. However, more than 30% of people with epilepsy do not have seizure control even with the best available medications.” Therefore, Lil’ Wayne coping with epilepsy does not have to end his career, but he may need additional medical attention. With a new album on the market, I Am Not a Human Being II and a pending tour to promote the album, Lil’ Wayne has some performances still on the table. Is Lil’ Wayne okay? We will know very soon.