Born Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr. in the tough Hollygrove section of New Orleans, the rapper known as Lil Wayne has emerged as one of hip-hop's stars, with more than 10 million units sold as of June 2011. He also has his own company, Young Money Entertainment. Lil Wayne received mainstream exposure with a 2004 cameo on Destiny's Child's song "Soldier" and a 2010 Saturday Night Live appearance with Eminem.
Lil Wayne started rapping at eight years old and officially started his recording career at 12, when he met the founders of the Cash Money record label. His first album, a duo with rapper B.G., debuted in 1993. In 1997, the pair added Juvenile and Turk to the lineup and became the group Hot Boys, whose debut album sold more than 500,000 copies. The album's success led Universal Records to sign a distribution deal with Cash Money.
In 2011, Billboard magazine ranked Lil Wayne number 21 on their list of the Top 50 R&B;/Hip-Hop Artists of the past 25 years. His first solo album, "Tha Block is Hot" debuted at number 1 on Billboard's R&B;/Hip-Hop chart in 1999, and he has had seven albums reach the number 1 spot. His second album, "Lights Out," went platinum in 2000, as did his 2004 album "Tha Carter." In 2008, his album "Tha Carter III" made history by being the first hip-hop album to sell one million copies in its first week of release. As of 2011, he has been nominated for eight Grammy Awards, and he won four for "Tha Carter III" in 2009. Lil Wayne has also won two ACAP Awards, three BMI Awards, five BET Awards and eight BET Hip-Hop Awards.
When he was 15, Lil Wayne accidentally shot himself in the chest with a .44-caliber handgun that belonged to his mother. In 2010, Lil Wayne served eight months at Rikers Island prison after pleading guilty to attempted gun possession. He was charged after New York City police pulled over his tour bus as he was leaving a concert at the Beacon Theatre in 2007. The authorites found drugs and a gun (registered to Lil Wayne's manager) near the rapper, which violated New York's strict anti-gun laws.
One Family Foundation
In 2008, Lil Wayne started the One Family Foundation, an organization designed to help inner-city children. The foundation's first project was the renovation of Harrell Park in Hollygrove, which was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. The park provides the neighborhood with recreational facilities, including a pool, a track and basketball courts. Lil Wayne paid $50,000 to rebuild the park and donated $200,000 to the New Orleans Recreational Department to rebuild the local community center.