Lil Wayne & Jay Z: A Brief History

BYTrevor Smith22.2K Views
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Tracing the ever-changing dynamic between Lil Wayne and Jay Z.

Since Lil Wayne released his 2004 mixtape The Prefix, where he rapped over a collection of Jay Z instrumentals, it's been more than clear that he's a fan of the rapper -- but he's also always expressed the desire to be better than those he idolizes. So begins a competitive friendship that takes a number of turns, as Jay Z approaches Wayne to sign him, the collaborate, exchange disses, and roles reverse until we're back at square one and Wayne is declaring he's "signed" with Hov.

Of course, there's a little more to it than that. Click through the galleries to get a brief idea of the back-and-forth between Lil Wayne and Jay Z over the last decade, and know that it is far from the end of their story.


Lil Wayne & Jay Z: A Brief History

Jay Z calls Wayne for the first time (200?)

Lil Wayne's very first interaction with Jay Z came with a phone call, which was less a conversation than an acknowledgment. While it was brief, it was a huge moment for Wayne. 

"At that moment, my mama couldn't tell me nothing," he recalled of his reaction to the co-sign. "Other people may say you've done a bunch of other stuff that should have made you feel solidified, but that phone call right there was serious to me. I remember exactly where I was, I remember telling everybody in the garage to shut up [laughs]. I was in my house in New Orleans. It was my second house on my own... We were all shooting pool in my garage... I got a phone call letting me know -- Jay Z is about to call you. So I told everybody to be quiet... Like bro, be quiet... Like you shot a gun in the air [laughs]... All he really said is "Sup, lil homie. I see you. Just wanted to let you know, I see you."

In an interview with MTV, Wayne revealed that the call was worth more to him than a feature. "He ain't never got to do a verse for me," he said. "Just him acknowledging me when anybody else ask him anything and when they don't, he say something. That's enough for me."

40/40 Club

Lil Wayne & Jay Z: A Brief History

Jay Z offers Wayne a deal (2006)

Later on, Wayne Jay Z ended up offering Wayne a deal while he was in New York, but apparently, the advance wasn't big enough.

“You know when I went out there to talk to him about being with Roc-A-Fella, and mind you this was years ago, years ago,” he said of his official meeting with Jigga. “First of all, he was at the 40/40 in the daytime, and when I got up there he was talking, it was Denzel [Washington], it was Derek Jeter. I was like, ‘This is his clique?’ And they up there just laughing at jokes I just don’t get. He literally sat me down next to him, and this where all that’s going on at, and he sat me right here. Like, ‘You ain’t a part of this,’ you know? And he would talk to me on the side after every joke."

Then came the big reveal. “That man offered me 175 [thousand],” he said, obviously amused by the number at this point in his career. “I said, ‘Believe that…’ I was looking like, two teeth in my mouth is 175, like two of them. My bottom teeth. So we laugh about that all the time. We joke about it all the time.”

Wayne challenges Jay Z's "Best Rapper Alive" title

Lil Wayne & Jay Z: A Brief History

Wayne challenges Jay's "Best Rapper Alive" title (2006)

Following Jay Z's post-Black Album retirement, Wayne took the opportunity to claim the title of Best Rapper Alive, though acknowledging it was just due to Jay's absence from the game. "The best rapper alive since the best rapper retired," he rapped on Tha Carter's "Bring It Back." But once Jay made his comeback, Wayne wasn't ready to give up the title, writing a track called "Best Rapper Alive" on Carter II, and offering Jay some spirited competition in interviews. In a conversation with Complex, he was up-front about his feelings regarding Jay z returning from retirement, saying "Now he comes back and still thinks it's his house ... It's not your house anymore, and I'm better than you."

Later on, he would offer more competition on mixtape tracks "Dough Is What I Got" and "Upgrade," which found the rapper taking on beats from Jay and his then-girlfriend Beyonce, respectively, offering some friendly competition.

Hello Brooklyn

Lil Wayne & Jay Z: A Brief History

Jay Z and Wayne collaborate on American Gangster's "Hello Brooklyn 2.0" (November 2007)

With Wayne quickly becoming one of the most popular rappers in the game, Jay Z recruits him for the unforgettable hook on "Hello Brooklyn 2.0," which lands on his 2007 project American Gangster.

She said she love B.I.G. and she like 2Pac
And when I said Jay Z she said "It's The Roc!"

Mr. Carter

Lil Wayne & Jay Z: A Brief History

Jay Z gives Wayne a rare feature on "Mr. Carter" (June 2008)

Getting a feature in Jay Z's album is one thing, but getting a Jay Z feature on your album is a whole 'nother level. Jay Z gives Wayne the ultimate endorsement by guesting on "Mr. Carter," on Wayne's Platinum-in-a-week album Tha Carter III. The song plays off the fact that the two share the same last name and serves as a torch-passing moment just as Wayne became the biggest name in hip-hop.

Swagga Like Us

Lil Wayne & Jay Z: A Brief History

Jay and Wayne declare their shared dominance over the rap game with "Swagga Like Us" (September 2008)

Now both A-listers in rap, Lil Wayne and Jay Z join with the strongest forces in the game (Kanye West and T.I.) to prove no one else is really on their level. 

"I might send this to the mixtape Weezy"

Lil Wayne & Jay Z: A Brief History

"I might send this to the mixtape Weezy." (June 2009)

Jay Z's Blueprint 3 single "D.O.A." called for the death of auto-tune, and in the process, challenged Lil Wayne, who had been experimenting with the vocal effect, to step his bars up. "I might send this to the mixtape Weezy," Jay Z rapped. While we now know that Jay Z was ultimately on the wrong side of history here (he worked with Future, one of auto-tune's greatest proponents, just this year), he did get a response from Wayne with his No Ceilings freestyle over the beat. "Young or old, there ain’t no comparin' me / I just cleared that up, moment of clarity," he rapped, referencing Jay Z's Black Album deep cut "Moment of Clarity" with a visible smirk.

Disses Exchanged

Lil Wayne & Jay Z: A Brief History

Subliminal disses are exchanged (2009 to 2011)

In the spirit of competition, Jay Z and Lil Wayne ended up taking shots at one another on record, all seeming to stem from some comments Birdman made regarding MTV's list of Hottest MCs in 2009, where they ranked Jay Z at number 1. "I don’t think [Jay-Z] is the number one emcee in no kind of way. Wayne's the best," he said, before suggesting that no one makes more money then he and Wayne.

On "H.A.M.," his collaborative single with Kanye West, Jay Z came back with a subliminal response to Birdman's remarks, playing off of Birdman's original name, Baby. “I’m like ‘really’? Half-a-billy nigga? Really? You got Baby money," he raps. "Keep it real with niggas, n*ggas ain’t got my lady money."

On his Carter V project in 2011, Wayne came back at Jay with some vicious bars about Beyonce. "Talkin' 'bout Baby money? I got your baby money / Kidnap your bitch, get that 'how much you love your lady' money," he raps on "It's Good."

Two years later, Jay's Magna Carta Holy Grail project contained a response to Wayne's bar.

N*gga wanna kidnap wifey, good luck with that bruh
You must gonna hide your whole family
What you think we wearing black for?
Ready for that war, ready for that war ready
You ain’t ready yo’, you radio
You ain’t really ready, real nigga chea

Wayne Aligns Himself With TIDAL Amidst Label Drama

Lil Wayne & Jay Z: A Brief History

Wayne aligns himself with Jay Z's Tidal streaming service (June 2015)

The beef between Jay Z and Wayne seems to fizzle out after Wayne is engulfed in more conflict, this time with Cash Money founder and father figure Birdman. When Wayne protests his label and launches a lawsuit against Birdman over unpaid royalties, his completed Carter V project is witheld as he explores other options of releasing music, landing on a "deal" with Jay Z's streaming service, Tidal.

In June of 2015, Wayne announces that he's "signed a deal" with Jay Z, and in July releases FWA: Free Weezy Album through the service. Shortly after that, it's reported that Birdman is suing Tidal over their exclusive streaming of the LP. 

Lil Wayne & Jay Z: A Brief History

Wayne says Jay Z is "still a mentor" to him (April 2016)

In April of 2016, Wayne shares some insight into his current relationship with Jay Z. "Still a mentor, I'm still looking up to everything he do," he says. "He still hit me up every other day, trying to tell me what move to make and what move not to make."

Wayne hints at Roc Nation signing

Lil Wayne & Jay Z: A Brief History

Wayne hints at Roc Nation signing (November 2016)

While Lil Wayne's "deal" with Tidal is never fully explained, the rapper hints that he could have some kind of affiliation with Roc Nation during his performance at the 2016 Camp Flog Gnaw event in L.A. Changing the lyrics to "I'm Me" from "I'm a motherfuckin' Cash Money millionaire" to "I'm a motherfuckin' Roc-A-Fella millionaire," referencing Jay Z's former label, and perhaps, his new one, Roc Nation.

At this point, Wayne is saying fuck Cash Money for life. This Roc-A-Fella shout-out was random tho:

— Eric Diep (@E_Diep) November 13, 2016

@E_Diep not that random 😶

— INFAMOUS (@INFAMOUS_) November 13, 2016


About The Author
<b>Features &amp; News Writer</b> <!--BR--> Trevor is a music writer currently based in Montreal. Follow him on <a href="" rel="nofollow">Twitter</a>.