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A Year of Lil Wayne: "Why Are You Making Him Listen to Lil Wayne?"

If you've ever wanted to read 950 words about Lil Wayne and the movie 'No Strings Attached,' starring Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman, this is your chance.

by Kyle Kramer
Feb 11 2017, 8:39pm

Day 144: "Dipset" – Da Drought 3 , 2007

When we talk about Lil Wayne, we tend to focus on his skills as a rapper or perhaps the sheer numerical scale of his commercial accomplishments. But there's a less obvious measuring post by which Lil Wayne is the best rapper alive: In many ways he became, very strongly by 2011 or so, the archetype of a famous rapper. When people who don't pay attention to rap think of famous rappers—consider the ways you see rappers cameo in commercials and stuff like that—they picture the lavish archetypes of expensive cars or whatever, they imagine rappers pouring champagne on models in bikinis, they think of crazy parties. And the face of that lifestyle is, and especially was a few years ago, Lil Wayne. Think about the entire series of commercials Lil Wayne did last year with Samsung where the entire premise was that Lil Wayne needs a waterproof Samsung phone because he pours champagne on stuff.

Those were hilarious ads! But they also hit on an image of Wayne that is undeniably why he is the greatest rapper. He's famous to people as the representation of an idea more than anyone else. That's not necessarily the most positive thing, given what he represents, but I'll leave that for someone else to unpack another day. The point is, Lil Wayne is so much a rapper archetype, he's the type of figure who ends up as the funny pop culture reference in a bad romantic comedy when the writers need to make a joke about partying.

Last night, I was watching No Strings Attached, the seminal 2011 film about casual sex starring Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman, which, if we're being honest, falls well short of even the low bar of "lazy When Harry Met Sally remake," yet does succeed on the merits of it being about two very attractive people having sex, having a cast of future all-stars—like Greta Gerwig, Mindy Kaling, and Jake Johnson, as well as the already-famous Ludacris; let it sink in that Greta Gerwig and Ludacris were once in a movie with Ashton Kutcher together—and also a few well-placed jokes. The basic motivating plot of the film is that Ashton Kutcher's dad, a wildly popular former sitcom star in his 60s, starts dating Ashton Kutcher's ex-girlfriend, an LA party girl in her 20s. This naturally serves as the main engine of Ashton Kutcher's misery throughout the duration of the movie, and it comes to a head at the end, when Ashton Kutcher's dad is hospitalized. He rushes to the hospital, where he encounters his ex-gf/dad's current gf, Vanessa, panicking and getting ready to leave. They have the following exchange:

Ashton: Hey, where is he, what happened?
Vanessa: Don't freak out, okay? Your dad overdosed on cough syrup.
Ashton: What?
Vanessa: The purple drank.
Ashton: The… p-purple drank?
Vanessa: It's Seven Up, cough syrup, and a Jolly Rancher.
Ashton: Why would he do that, Vanessa?
Vanessa: Because he loves Lil Wayne, OK? You don't know everything about your dad.
Ashton: Why are you making him listen to Lil Wayne? You should be taking care of him.

It's probably the funniest exchange in the movie, even if it plays a drug overdose for laughs, just with the way it juxtaposes the lighthearted way someone like Lil Wayne portrays drugs to the dramatic reality of a scene about a son reckoning with the idea of his 60-year-old dad trying to party like Lil Wayne. It's also a great indication of how famous Lil Wayne really is. Here he is just popping up as a reference in a movie that, yes, has Ludacris in the cast but is wildly outside the world of the 17th Ward.

Lil Wayne's raps about drugs really permeated that far into mainstream pop culture. After all, the No Strings Attached plot point is basically just a filtered down version of Wayne's example. And all those images of hard-partying rappers can be pulled straight out of his lyrics. Consider "Dipset," admittedly a mixtape cut, but one of the longer and more all-inclusive pictures of drug and alcohol use in Wayne's music. First there's a reference to lean, "no fast talk, I'm on that syrup, I'm on that turtle-time." Then there's the aforementioned champagne-pouring, VIP image, although with a timely reference rap's boycott of Cristal's racist CEO, "VIP, we be the niggas banging in the red / don't drink Cristal no more, just pour it on white bitches' heads." Then, finally, we have one of the most detailed narrations of doing molly you'll find just about anywhere in music:

I'm rolling like the stones
I need a water bottle
And if you need a pill
T.Streetz and Carter got 'em
Supply the whole party
We got the party poppin'
We in New Orleans poppin'
We way in Harlem poppin'
In California poppin'
Them Ed Hardy-rockin' skinny whores with all them problems
Bitch you can eat these pills and chill and tell me all about 'em
Shit, hold up my heart is knocking
Don't worry water stops it
Hold up your mouth is dry
Don't worry water mops it
I got a great idea
We should have sex
Bitch I'm like Dante Hall
I just throw up the X

No wonder Lil Wayne became the go-to reference for partying, to the point that Natalie Portman found herself traveling around the country promoting a movie where Wayne's drug of choice was a pivotal joke and plot point. In honor of that, this is a Lil Wayne song that Natalie Portman and Cam'ron and Ashton Kutcher and Hell Rell and Ludacris and Jim Jones and Greta Gerwig and Juelz Santana can all appreciate. Lil Wayne is a legend for that.

Photo: Screen grab of Ashton Kutcher in No Strings Attached

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