With a lil help from Kobe

Lil Wayne is a vet of the rap game, but he still boasts some new moves

Originally Published: June 3, 2014
By Sam Alipour | ESPN The Magazine

Lynne Sladky/AP ImagesLil Wayne takes in a Miami Heat game where he is a regular on the sidelines.

This story appears in ESPN The Magazine's June 9 World Cup Preview Issue. Subscribe today!

Lil Wayne got pals Kobe Bryant and Floyd Mayweather to tease his upcoming album, Tha Carter V, on their social media. Here, Wayne, 31, tells how the collaboration taught him about the intersection of music and sports. Donald Sterling? Yeah, he went there too.

My friends call me Tune. You can call me Wayne, brah. 

Athletes wanna be rappers, rappers wanna be athletes. I wanna be what I am.

But meeting athletes is the coolest. Trust me -- the coolest. When we met, I told Kobe I'm a huge fan and he told me he's a huge fan, which was a total shock. He also said he likes the things I say about him in music. I think I put a song out for him -- I don't know, I've done so much music.

I don't know social media. I'm old-school: I know eyes and ears. I know sports, worldwide, is forced on you all day, every day in a great way. Kobe can reach a wider audience. Plus, everybody knows I'm in love with sports, so it's a way to be involved.

Sports and music are connected by youth. Music is youth, sports is youth, and to the younger players, music is their motivating force. Also, I believe athletes want you to know who they are -- not just how they play. Music is an outlet for that. 

My homey Cortez came up with it: What do you think about Kobe tweeting the album art? I'm like, what do I think? That'd be dope. So I had the homey hit him up simple procedure: Hey, can you tweet this? And he did [on April 28]. It wasn't planned or paid -- I only went to the homeys as a favor for a friend.

I have movie star friends too, but movies are a choice. People have to go out to watch movies, and they don't watch movies that they don't like. 

"Carter V Season" was all Kobe. He came up with it. I saw that and thought, That's dope as hell, so that's what we're calling the [album] campaign. I thanked him. Then we thought about Floyd.

We knew Floyd had a fight coming up. So all eyes were on him. I have his number, so I had my homey hit him up: Can you put this video of Drake out, as a little tease? He did [on April 30]. And it worked. That s--- was crazy. I told him I appreciate him. He said he's down for whatever else. That's Floyd -- down for whatever. 

I don't know if I'll do another, but if I could've had any athlete tease my music, it would've been the late Junior Seau.

Why do I like the Red Sox and Packers? Pedro Martinez was my favorite player, followed by David Ortiz. The Packers because my late dad went to their Super Bowl game in New Orleans in 1997, and he came home with a bunch of Packers paraphernalia, so my bedroom was full of Packers posters. I've been a fan since. Also, Brett Favre was the s---.

The "F--- the Heat" sing-along at my show [on Feb. 17, 2013]? Fact. I was just heated about getting thrown out their game with the Lakers [on Feb. 10, 2013], that's all. 

They invited me back. But I live in L.A. 

I'm a Lakers die-hard, a superfanatic, and I'm super-happy on that sideline, and I'm super-close, so you can hear everything I say. I'm just a regular fan, but Miami wasn't too happy about the things I was saying. 

They say L.A. is now a Clippers town. Well, I'm cool with it because CP3 is at point guard, and he's my brother.

My thoughts on Donald Sterling are I have no thoughts about a man who doesn't, or can't, think.

Tha Carter V is about growth, flat-out. My thoughts are wiser. I still say what I want to say -- it just sounds better and makes more sense. That all comes with growth and maturity.

I wasn't so good at sports. I wasn't the best at basketball, wasn't terrible. I played football real well. Now, I dib and dab on the skateboard.

I never try to send messages through music. Music is about self. It's supposed to be personal, a reflection of me, unless you have somebody writing it for you, and everybody know I'm not that artist. I'm not sending a message because that message may not get across. Whatever message you take from it is your choice. 

I have four kids. Rappers' kids are usually bigger fans of athletes than their own dads. But not my kids. No, my kids are bigger fans of Batman and Spiderman.

Follow The Mag on Twitter (@ESPNmag) and like us on Facebook.

Sam Alipour is a Senior Writer at ESPN Magazine and contributor to ESPN and ESPN.com. Contact him at sam.alipour@gmail.com and on Twitter.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.