Lil Wayne was only 16 years old when he was photographed for the cover of “Tha Block is Hot.” In the Cash Money era of rap artists, he was the ankle-biting kid looking for his chance to show off his overwhelming talent. And by the release of this album in 1999, he proved himself to be more than a kid rapper, but a street poet for adults about real shit. This debut record gives fans a picture of the nervous, overly-gifted prodigy finding his artistic voice before he’d become the most influential figure in modern rap.
One of the most interesting stories in rap, Lil Wayne started as a child prodigy in New Orleans, worked his way to the top of Cash Money Records before helping usher in a new era of hip-hop. He made rap mainstream and brought it to the digital age before crashing his career with mediocre music, foolish decisions and a legal battle with Cash Money while rising stars he mentored replaced his relevance like Drake and Nicki Minaj. But much like a prodigal son, Lil Wayne returned to his roots and made one of the greatest comeback records in rap history.