Lil Wayne's Leave of Absence: What Will Happen Next?

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It has been reported from a number of sources that Lil Wayne is going to put the microphone down and pick the skateboard up. The New Orleans rapper and Young Money captain claims to have become “bored of rap” and wishes to focus more on ollies and kickflips than flows and lyrics. But you have to wonder, what will happen to rap?

An infamous picture of Lil Wayne


Honestly, what will happen to rap?

Plenty of hardcore hip hop heads are quick to crucify Wayne as the reason rap has become more and more mainstream. I mean, when the Carter III came out, I was in 8th grade and I knew a few people who wouldn’t otherwise go near hip-hop with a Homeboy Sandman-sized pole in my grade that bought it. And I went to a pretty rural high school. 

But Wayne isn’t the only reason rap has transformed into a mainstream friendly genre of music in the last decade. While it does seem strange for a Blood-repping Southern rapper to make a song like “How to Love,” Lil Wayne is a reason so many listeners get into hip hop. For example, you might start off hearing a Wayne feature on the radio and look into his and his Young Money counterparts' respected discographies. Then, before you know it, you are listening to everything from the Beastie Boys to Busta Rhymes, from A Tribe Called Quest to MF Doom

Masked rapper MF Doom


There are a few possible outcomes from this impending hiatus Lil Wayne has planned:

Wayne drops the mic and listeners seek a placebo, something to take his place. They delve into rap a little further and expand their taste. It might only sound like wishful thinking that they pick up a more developed palate for the vast variety of flavors of the rap genre, but it’s not hard to imagine. Wayne has such a grip on hip hop at the moment, dropping out would give his companions and competition some time in the spotlight. While Drake and Nicki Minaj are not too far behind Lil Wayne, this gives rappers like Cory Gunz a chance to step out from behind Wayne’s monumental shadow. Another positive reaction from Wayne’s break would be his chance to do philanthropy, fashion, and whatever other endeavors.

However, after Wayne leaves the studio for the skate park, there could easily be some negative repercussions. First of all, whether you enjoy his last few releases or not, especially Rebirth, Wayne has arguably the biggest fan base in all of rap. Face it, everybody who is a real fan of the genre has at least few favorite Lil Wayne songs. People respect his earlier records and go wild over his new joints. To lose a rapper that has recorded an innumerable amount of tracks for even a few years sacrifices several prospective hip hop fans. It allows even more mainstream artists such as Pitbull or Flo Rida to drag the genre closer the already thinning line that divides pop rap from hip hop. While many argue that Wayne isn’t producing the same quality of tracks he did during his Dedication and Carter II days, Wayne stays true to divvying up records for his radio listeners and faithful followers, something several rappers have a tough time doing. 

As for the impact this will have on the genre as a whole, I don’t see anything too crazy. There won’t be any mass sales of other artists or a Young Money falling out. No Cory Gunz in the limelight and no Drake leaving for Roc-A-Fella. No Pusha T subliminals and no ceasing of Trukfit sales. None of that nonsense. 

My prediction is that Lil Wayne will stop touring and start shredding and that a small number of fans will stop listening. But those are fans that hip hop doesn’t need anyway. Hip hop will thrive just fine through Wayne’s hiatus. A new face will be adopted by the same people who curse Wayne, perhaps a more round, bearded face. Young Money will fall into the shadow of MMG and GOOD Music, but will stay afloat from its Canadian and Trinidadian representatives. Ultimately, rap will be just fine, in case you were even worried.

For Lil Wayne, this could be a chance to take a breather and come back with some refreshing material that we’ve been waiting on for a number of years now. Everyone loves a comeback, especially in music; use Eminem and Jay-Z as an example. I think we all hope that Lil Wayne takes the smoothest path in front of him. After all we don’t want to see him slip and fall.
 

Lil Wayne (attempting) skating