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Lil Wayne and Lil Baby on Their Relentless Work Ethic, Life’s Biggest Challenges, How Their Hometowns Made Them

For our Musicians on Musicians issue, the two rappers expressed their mutual admiration for each other and discussed their music-making process in a fascinating conversation

Lil Wayne and Lil Baby discussed their mutual admiration for each other, their album- and song-making processes, and how they tackle life’s biggest challenges during their interview for Rolling Stone’s Musicians on Musicians.

Lil Baby, who’s having a breakout year, is at the forefront of a new generation of rappers who are direct descendents of Lil Wayne. And while Wayne admitted he doesn’t listen to a lot of new music, he explained why Lil Baby is among the exceptions to that rule.

“When I listen to anybody, I’m listening to lyrics,” Wayne says. “Listening and hearing are two different things: We hear shit we might like, but we only love things that we listen to. I started listening to the lyrics, I started listening to what the homie was saying, and when you’re speaking about something so real like that and figuring out how to make that shit actually go together and sound the way he make it sound — make it rhyme, even when it doesn’t rhyme, even when it doesn’t have to rhyme — that’s when you’re discovering something within yourself.”

Baby also touched on Wayne’s influence, saying: “I always feel like Wayne did what he wanted to do, in a sense. And the reason I feel like he could do whatever he wanted to do was because he put the numbers up behind him. So that’s the way I’m kind of rocking. I’m gonna rock out how I wanna rock out, as long as I put the numbers up.”

Elsewhere in the chat, the pair discussed their relentless work ethic, their approach to features and collaborations, Googling bars to make sure they haven’t already used them, and how their hometowns of Atlanta and New Orleans shaped them. Wayne even shared a story about how the people who inspired him to pick up a mic weren’t superstars, but local MCs who’d spit verses at neighborhood block parties

“No cars, no jewelry, no nothing,” Wayne said. “I saw them popping, and I wanted that. So one day, I got hyped up, all jacked up off some Mountain Dew, I was just 11 years old, I walked up to the DJ and asked him, ‘Let me see the mic.’ He let me see the mic and I did what I did from there.”

Toward the end of the chat, Baby and Wayne spoke honestly about the biggest challenges they face outside of making music. For Baby, it’s all about “staying focused and knowing that I got a lot to lose nowadays, and a lot of people depend on me. That’s a hard challenge for me, with all the distractions and shit that come with doing music. So that’s the main thing to me, and managing my money the right way.”

Wayne, the elder statesman, responded with an “Amen” and added: “For me, I wouldn’t say the most difficult challenge, but the most challenging challenge, would be trying to be the most perfect — if there is such a thing — father there is to my kids, to my three boys and my beautiful daughter. Like I said, it’s not difficult at all, it’s just the most challenging challenge, and I love a challenge.”

From Rolling Stone US