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Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Keri Hilson at Cruzan Amphitheatre August 2

Lil Wayne has gone soft.

Prior to serving 11 months on Riker's Island, the world knew (and loved) Lil Wayne for being a delightfully schizoid celeb, hypercompetitive workaholic, and the Best Rapper Alive. He dictated the game, ate candy by the pound, sold a gazillion albums, guzzled promethazine-and-codeine cocktails like Diet Sprite, and effortlessly tossed off mind-blowingly surreal, stream-of-consciousness gangsta poetry about safe sex, murder, and Hooked on Phonics.

But ever since getting out of prison November 4, 2010, Weezy has been acting different. He's talking about dangerously mundane stuff like abstaining from alcohol, learning "how to love," and retirement. So New Times has begun to wonder, Has the Cash Money maniac gone soft? Here are five signs that jail made him a kinder, gentler soul.

Stayin' Sober. These days, Lil Wayne doesn't drank. There's no booze backstage and the tour bus is totally dry. Sure, as a condition of his probation, Weezy is banned from consuming any type of alcohol until 2013. But what if he has actually bought into the 12-Step Program? There's nothing thug about teetotaling.

"How to Love." When this gross and gooey third single from Tha Carter IV came out, New Times called it "Grade A weenie music." Maybe staring at the walls for a year turned Wayne into a romantic dork. Or maybe some of Drake's emo-ness seeped into Mr. Carter's breakfast cereal. But whatever the cause, we never, ever wanna hear Weezy utter this kind of touchy-feely crap again.

Ready-to-Weezy Wear. Blame Jay-Z. After Rocawear, every rapper wants to fob off his own fashion label on the American consumer. And apparently Lil Wayne ain't immune. "I just figure people want to be funky like me, so I got my clothing line," he recently told XXL. But really, what's next, Weezy? Kickin' it with Karl Lagerfeld and Kanye over crêpes and cravates?

Retiring for the Lil Ones. It's perfectly commendable that Mr. Carter wants to step away from the rap game — permanently — to "become a better father" to his four children (Reginae, Dwayne III, Lennox, and Neal) and be "a better man to [his] woman." But shit, we always thought Weezy wasn't gonna quit till the Grim Reaper ran him down in a blood-red Bugatti. Death before retirement, homey.

Sorry 4 the Wait. The Weezy man's new mixtape is pretty killer. But what's with the title? Back in the day, Lil Wayne didn't apologize for nothing. If Axl Rose can waste 13 years and just sneer anytime some asshole mentions Chinese Democracy, the Young Money maniac should be able to spend an extra six months on Tha Carter IV, shrug, and say, "Accept it, bitches. I'm workin' on a motherfuckin' masterpiece here."

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Cruzan Amphitheatre

601-7 Sansbury's Way
West Palm Beach, FL 33411

561-795-8883


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