Lil Wayne is an open book — at least when it comes to one chapter in his life.
On Tuesday, the prolific rapper, who in 2010 was sentenced to an eight-month stint at New York’s notorious Rikers Island on weapons charges, released the diary he kept during his incarceration. Entitled Gone ‘Til November: A Journal of Rikers Island (Plume Books), the journal was Wayne’s way of finding “joy in hell.” Now, it stands as a revelation to fans who finally get a peek behind the curtain of celebrity.
Here are seven things we learned from our sneak peek.
1. Lil Wayne was a suicide prevention aide… briefly.
After earning a perfect score on the pre-employment screening test, Wayne was tasked with monitoring the tier to ensure inmates didn’t try to commit suicide and to alert the on-duty officer about attempts. The rapper soon bowed out of the job in order to focus on self-care, but suicide was still an ever-present part of his sentence.
“It’s truly a new reality for me,” he wrote. “I was actually there when this kid that was in mental isolation tried to hang up. What’s really (expletive) up is that it all could’ve been prevented if the COs (correctional officers) would’ve just brought him some water.”
But, as Wayne goes on to explain, officers are used to inmates in isolation banging on their cells — so much so that it doesn’t trigger alarms.
2. He heard his son say “Da-da” while behind bars.
Wayne’s first son was only a year old when he began serving his sentence. As such, the first time Wayne heard Dwayne Michael Carter III — fondly referred to as D.M.C. III — say “Da-da” was on the phone, a bittersweet moment for the Misunderstood artist.
3. He was anxious to perform in prison.
Wayne may have rocked stages in front of millions of people, but rapping in front of his fellow inmates was another story. “I was nervous as hell,” he admits of his performance for tier mates, Charlie and Jamaica. “Rapping has always been second nature to me, but my creativity has absolutely been put to the test since being in this (expletive)… I hope they liked it. I think they did.”
4. He considered turning to Christian rap… briefly.
In addition to a landslide of fan mail, Wayne also received a compelling letter from a church, urging him to use his artistry to spread the gospel. And for a moment, Wayne considered it. “I would truly have the power of having pop culture turn to God,” he wrote. “I would have straight killers in church every Sunday.”
But later on, the rapper said he had an epiphany that he was where he was supposed to be in his artistic journey — at least for the moment.
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