Lil Wayne is preparing to drop his proclaimed final album this year, and with two solid singles out, the anticipation is building quickly. The Cash Money rapper and long-time sports fan sat down with ESPN recently to discuss a number of topics, touching on his approach to Tha Carter V, Kobe Bryant's involvement in the hype cycle, and his personal growth as an artist.

Read some excerpts from the interview below.

On getting athletes involved with C5 hype: “My [manager] Cortez came up with it: What do you think about Kobe tweeting the album art? I’m like, what do I think? That’d be dope. So I had the homey hit him up simple procedure: Hey, can you tweet this? And he did [on April 28]. It wasn’t planned or paid—I only went to the homeys as a favor for a friend.”

On Kobe Bryant's contribution: “‘Carter V Season’ was all Kobe. He came up with it. I saw that and thought, That’s dope as hell, so that’s what we’re calling the [album] campaign. I thanked him. Then we thought about Floyd.”

On the album's premise: “Tha Carter V is about growth, flat-out. My thoughts are wiser. I still say what I want to say—it just sounds better and makes more sense. That all comes with growth and maturity.”

On his songwriting: “I never try to send messages through music. Music is about self. It’s supposed to be personal, a reflection of me, unless you have somebody writing it for you, and everybody know I’m not that artist. I’m not sending a message because that message may not get across. Whatever message you take from it is your choice.”

On Donald Sterling: "I have no thoughts about a man who doesn't, or can't, think."