Lil Wayne may be the best rapper in the world, but there was a period in his career, albeit brief, where everything he touched did not, in fact, turn to gold. With his Rebirth album, Weezy attempted to move away from the Young Money beat factory and go for a more raw, emotional rock sound (which just so happened to include Auto-Tune). And while that effort (deservedly) faded into the background of Weezy’s plethora of releases, he’s since decided to revisit the concept with an appearance on MTV’s Unplugged.
As just the second rapper to perform on the Unplugged stage since 2001 (the other being Jay-Z), Wayne powered through a 13-song set, kicking things off with a declaration of sorts with “3 Peat” and “Mr. Carter”. From there, Tunechi whipped through some of his biggest hits, including “A Milli”, “6 Foot 7 Foot” with Cory Gunz, “Drop The World” sans Eminem, “Lollipop”, “Miss Me”, “Fireman”, and even a new song from Tha Carter IV, “Nightmares of the Bottom” (remember, the F aint’ for fear). Each track was stripped to its core, coming to live thanks to a full backing band comprised of a heavy, rhythmic drumming and thick, expressive guitar work.
Proving that not even unzipped zipper could bring him down, the most powerful moment of the night saw Weezy speak on his emotional state during his recent prison stint on gun charges, a stint that ended back in November. “I was locked up a few months back, and it was people like you that made me feel like I wasn’t in there. A few months ago, I was in a dark place. I don’t like to shed light on it. People always ask me how it was. But I never answer. But since I have a beautiful audience, I think I have the perfect song.” Said song was Wayne’s rendition of Tupac Shakur’s “Hail Mary”, personalized with new lyrics from Wayne to reflect his own struggles. It was an immense moment that did what an entire album, or a back catalog for that matter, could ever do adequately: prove that, behind the weird-o vibe and hustla’ talk, Dwayne Carter is an artist always struggling with himself, only finding solace in the times when he’s on stage.
Check out the video and the setlist below. Tha Carter IV *tentatively* hits stores August 29th via Cash Money Records.
Lil Wayne MTV Unplugged Setlist:
01. 3 Peat
02. Mr. Carter
03. Shoot Me Down
04. Miss Me
05. A Milli
07. Hail Mary
08. Hustler Musik
09. Drop The World
10. I’m Single
12. Nightmares At The Bottom
13. 6 Foot, 7 Foot (feat. Cory Gunz)