I’ve been MTV’s Twitter Jockey for almost a year now, and there have been a few moments where I look around, take things in and literally have to pinch myself. Seeing the taping of “MTV2 Presents: Lil Wayne Unplugged” last month in Los Angeles was definitely one of those moments. Proven by iconic artists such as Jay-Z and Lauryn Hill, when great hip-hop meets the intimacy of “Unplugged,” it makes for some pretty legendary performances. Let’s just say Weezy had a lot to live up to. And he delivered.
I arrived on set a few hours early, just in time to hear Wayne’s band doing a sound check before the show. I knew immediately that I was in for something big. Not much later, the audience piled in, and Wayne took the stage.
Lil Wayne performed stripped-back versions of his classics, from fast-paced hits such as “A Milli” and (my personal favorite) “Let the Beat Build,” to slowed-down renditions of “Single” and “Lollipop.” It was obvious he’d mastered the balance of hyping the crowd up while keeping things just mellow enough for an acoustic performance.
One of the biggest surprises of the night was when Wayne opened up by speaking briefly about his time in prison last year. “A few months ago I was in a dark place that I don’t like to really shed light on,” he said. “Everyone always asks, ‘How was it?’ I figured I’d find a way to answer that question.” That became the perfect bridge for Wayne to transition into his cover of Tupac’s hit, “Hail Mary.” Watching Wayne cover Tupac created this incredible moment of vulnerability that we rarely see from today’s rappers, and the emotion in the room was almost palpable. Later in the set, he debuted the song “Nightmares of the Bottom” from his upcoming album, The Carter IV, and he closed things out by performing “6 Foot, 7 Foot” to a roaring audience — and you can see that exclusive sneak peek of “6 Foot, 7 Foot” below.
Though a few of Young Money’s own artists made appearances, Wayne didn’t have any huge names accompany him on stage. And honestly, he didn’t need them. His performance was so flawless that I didn’t miss the huge collaborations we’ve come to expect from the “Unplugged” series.
After the mind-blowing “Unplugged” taping, I headed to another stage at Sony Pictures Studios to sit down with Weezy, (pinching myself a little harder this time). I’ll admit I was intimidated — though he was super sweet, we were in a massive, empty room, surrounded only by Wayne’s entourage and a few lights. Talk about stripped down!
I asked Wayne three questions that had been on my mind since seeing him perform: 1.) What would he say to people who wouldn’t expect him to have his own “Unplugged” show? 2.) Why did he decide to cover “Hail Mary”? And 3.) What was the last album he purchased?
Watch my interview with Lil Wayne on the set of his “MTV2 Presents: Lil Wayne Unplugged” performance to see his answers — the last one definitely surprised me! Plus, get a sneak peek of his “6 Foot, 7 Foot” Unplugged performance. And don’t forget to tune in to the show this Sunday, June 12, at 9 p.m. ET on MTV and MTV2.