When did you first decide you wanted to follow Lil Wayne?
In 2005, we had interest in doing his story. We wanted to get in early. Most artists, their most special time is about a year before they release what we believe to be a classic album. In our minds, Wayne was an amazing artist, whether he sold a million records [in the first week] or not. You could tell that he was sleeping and eating music, kind of like Tupac. So we knew that this guy was going to make an interesting documentary, whether he went platinum or [sold] 500,000.
Why did you pick Wayne as the subject of this documentary?
I’ve been blessed to work with artists that I feel are classic, like Ice Cube and Tupac, and I see Wayne putting that same type of dedication into his craft. I think that he’ll change the game just because he’s such a hard worker. And he’s fearless. When he performs and records, he has a fearless approach. He says it in the movie, “I don’t care what anybody says about me. I don’t care about anybody’s thoughts. I just do what I do.” That’s really who he is. The same thing that’s true with Wayne and Tupac is that one song he might be in love with a girl. The next song he might hate that girl. You have a range of emotions throughout your day, week and year, and he’s expressing himself honestly. That’s always worth documenting.
What is something that people are going to learn about Wayne from The Carter?
He’s a pretty private person. He doesn’t bask in the fame at all. He’s more concerned about getting better, versus hanging out. Like a lot of the time when he’s recording, he’s all by himself. Like you’ll see in the movie, he gets the message from Sylvia Rhone that he sold a million records, you see how calmly he receives that message like, “Okay, cool. Now it’s time to do 5 million. I’m going to go back to the studio to get there.”
In your 10 months of footage, there aren’t any clips in the movie of Wayne being with his daughter or family. Did you know of any time when wore his daddy hat?
Not that we had access to. I know that there was one week when he went on vacation, but that was the only time. He works constantly. If he’s not touring, he’s in the studio. But usually he’s doing both.
You guys had unlimited access to Wayne, but didn’t show much of his lifestyle as it related to women. However, there were times when we’d see him getting out of his tour bus or leaving his hotel room, preceded by two or three beautiful woman. Was there a lot of groupie action?
Hmm, you know I think I’m going to stay away from that one because of his current situations. [Laughs] He’s a successful guy, you know what I mean?
Talk about Wayne’s skill level.
He’s almost got like a blessed savant skill in terms of songwriting and recording. He’ll get on the mic and you’ll see him look around and just start. His creative process is blessed, where it just pours out of him. Tupac was the same way. If he wasn’t recording, he’d go crazy. So it’s kind of like therapy. He has to do it every day. And every other song has a lot of potential. Wanye is so prepared. He’s put out so many albums. People forget that he’s a veteran. He’s been in the game since he was 11-years-old. In terms of writing hit songs, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be.
Did you know Wayne’s syrup intake would be so dominant in your movie?
No. The syrup was not an interest point.
Cortez Bryant, Lil Wayne’s manager, says that he’s put his foot down and refuses to be a part of Wayne’s syrup addiction. But aside from him, it seems that Wayne is surrounded by yes men.
That’s almost always the case when you’re dealing with someone that prolific. They have people around them that they’ve known their whole life. Wayne and Cortez went to high school together. And I think in Cortez’s case, it’s out of pure love and loyalty to Lil Wayne. The problem with fame is that it doesn’t come with a handbook. I wish there was a class or something. Like with Tupac, what was he doing in Vegas fighting? He should’ve been protected.
Do you think Wayne is on the same path as a Kurt Cobain or Tupac?
I’m a hopeless optimist. Obviously, it’s up to him. But I’ll say this: Artistically, I think Wayne will be here for a long time. I don’t think he’s going to run out of creativity any time soon. He’s amazing if he can stay focused. In terms of his lifestyle, I hope mostly for the sake of his daughter and his kids that once these cases go away, he’ll be able to find peace. I think that if Tupac had stayed alive for another three or four months, he was just about to become a man and make some positive changes in his life. I know that for a fact. He was tired of that lifestyle and he was ready to move on. Wayne is one of the smartest people at his age that you’ll ever come across. He’s just got to make the right decisions from here, I guess. And I hope he does. –Brad Wete
Film and music producer Quincy Jones III (yes, the legendary producer’s son) first wanted to shoot a Lil Wayne documentary when he heard reports the Weezy F. was packing up his duffle bag with text books and attending the University of Houston in 2005. Little did he know that Wayne was going to take him to Rock Star 101. The Carter, his documentary following Wayne seven months before he dropped his monster album, Tha Carter III and three months after is out now. The only place to buy it at TheCarterDoc.com.