"Trouble" Is a Song to Inspire Lil Wayne Superfans
Streetrunner explains the impulse to track down the source files for old Wayne classics like this one that he remastered.
Art via Streetrunner on Soundcloud/Illustration by Michael Alcantara
Day 254: "Trouble" – leak/unreleased, circa 2007
One of the things that makes Lil Wayne's run between Tha Carter II and Tha Carter III so inspiring is that, while Wayne has never been the deepest artist, it stands out as uniquely thoughtful. Wayne had occasionally touched on serious issues for years, and it's not like every song—or even the majority of songs—during that leak run was super profound, but songs like "Georgia... Bush" and "I Feel Like Dying" showed a level of depth that Wayne has mostly shied away from in years since. One such song is a leak called "Trouble," which begins like this:
New Orleans, baby, a street called Eagle
And everybody's ill, yeah, illegal
People steal cars, we steal people
We eat like dogs, but we still people
And even when you're lost, trouble still see you
And even if you dead broke, we are still equal
"Trouble" is not really in the canon of Lil Wayne classics, even though by the standards of any other rapper it would be considered a great song. Nonetheless, it's the kind of song that turned and continues to turn casual Lil Wayne fans into acolytes. As a result, it makes a lot of sense that it was one of the first songs Streetrunner chose to remaster last year when he started rereleasing old Wayne songs on Soundcloud. Earlier this year, he explained to me the thinking—and the challenge—behind that remaster series:
Every month I was having to search for these sessions that were like ten years old. I had all the vocal sessions nice and organized. I knew right where those were. But, like, finding the beat sessions—some of the beat sessions dated back to like '04, '05, and they were on the MPC 2000XL. I don't know if you're familiar with how you have to search for beats on that machine, but it's all disks. You have to go through, and it's not very organized. It's not like you could type in the name of the beat and go through a folder and search for it. You had to go through every single section of that MPC 2000XL and all the different files I'd saved.
So every month I had to do it, and I put in a little work. But what kept me going was like I had fans hitting me up talking about like when they were in middle school, when they were in high school, this was their soundtrack. All these songs were the soundtrack of their journey through school or to school or whatever they did when they listened to it. And I just remember when I was like in middle school and shit, my shit was Mobb Deep, Nas, Biggie. That was my soundtrack, when I was doing my thing. So to know that I had music that was somebody's soundtrack and influential on them the way it was, I can embrace that. It kind of kept me going, and I was like "all right, let me keep feeding 'em these joints and there are people out there who are gonna take these and put 'em in their collection and listen to it the way they need to listen to it."
Besides the tidbits about the MPC for the gear nerds in there, this story is striking because it points to the devotion that a song like this inspires to this day. More than ever, rap songs are treated as disposable tidbits for social media feeds, meant to be cued up for a couple weeks of viral videos before they're forgotten. But Lil Wayne songs still inspire intense devotion—to the point of prompting the producer to remaster leaks—ten or more years later because they are just that well made. "Trouble" is a hell of a song, and I urge you to sit with it, and, in the words of Streetrunner, add it to your collection.
Follow Kyle Kramer on Twitter.