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A Year of Lil Wayne: Waiting in Line for a Book to Get Signed

"I didn't know rappers wrote books" - A curious old lady

​Day 23: "Right Above It" – I Am Not a Human Being, 2010

​Kyle: This is a song that came out while Lil Wayne was in prison at Rikers Island in New York in 2010. He just published a book about the experience, and yesterday Lawrence went to a signing event for it at The Strand bookstore in New York, so today he's going to write about that:​

Lawrence: Yesterday, Lil Wayne released his memoir, Gone 'Til November, a daily log of his eight-month stint in New York prison complex, Rikers Island. Luckily for New Yorkers, Weezy kicked off the release at The Strand Bookstore in East Village. Though the line was supposed to form around noon, when I arrived around 12:10 PM., people were already in formation, trailing the better half of 12th and Broadway. I was prepared for the worst. I hadn't lined up for something since I spent two hours trying to get the Copper Foamposites back in 2010 and still left empty-handed. There were plenty of red hoodies being worn, a throwback Free Weezy tee from his time in jail, and basketball jerseys that read "Weezy" on the back.


I'd gotten there at a decent enough time to be in the middle of the line but homeboy who works at Strand didn't give me change for my book purchase and spent 15 minutes counting his drawer to make sure I wasn't lying about five fucking dollars. By the time I finished with that, the line had doubled. I stopped to chat with the first guy in line. His name was Brian and he came from South Plainfield, New Jersey with a mission to be first at seeing Lil Wayne. Like a true Wayne fanatic, he was decked out in Trukfit. His mom and friend Amir were behind him. "We've been here since 6:30 AM," Brian told me proudly. "Wayne is my favorite artist." His mom, Lois, dropped in the crucial detail that they'd actually been up since 3:30 AM to get dressed, brave the cold, ride to the train, get to New York, then to Strand. She says he's been listening to Wayne since he was born and couldn't miss out on this opportunity.

Back in line, I start eavesdropping people's conversations. A trio of guys walk up, pointing out all the "groupie hoes" there, as if they weren't just as, or more, excited as everyone else in the line. Like clockwork, old women started to approach people asking why they were in line and when they were given the answer, confusion ensued. One in particular came up to the guy behind me and perturbingly asked, "Do you know what you're in line for?" When he told her that it was for Lil Wayne, the rapper's book signing, she smugly responded, "I didn't know rappers wrote books. I thought those people had nothing to say." She condescendingly chuckled and strolled away, dragging her wheeled bookbag. I know what "those people" really meant and screamed "Fuck you!" in my head as she walked away. Fucking idiot.


Finally, we started moving but not before Strand's staff hit us with the rule book. We were instructed to take as many pictures as we want up until it's your turn to have your book signed. They emphasized this point so much, and judging by the amount of NYPD and dudes in suits with them, I took this as, "Do not look at Wayne. Do not breathe in his direction. And you better not touch him or you will get shot." When I walked into the store, Wayne was standing and greeting people as he signed their books. Surprisingly, everyone was keeping their composure. I'm sure those instructions started to replay in their heads.

I walked up, Wayne signed mine, nodded to me and said, "Thank you."

It happened too fast to feel like a special moment and as soon as I turned left to exit, a crowd of people who had gotten their books signed already stood a few feet away from the table to keep taking pictures of Wayne. It felt weird so I dipped. Book in hand, I headed for the train and overheard a woman next to me who had just left the signing sigh and say to her friend, "Oh my God. That was everything I needed."

Kyle Kramer is an editor at Noisey. Follow him on Twitter.

Follow Lawrence Burney on Twitter​.