It’s 3 p.m.! Let The A.V. Club briefly make use of the waning hours of your productivity with some pop culture ephemera pulled from the depths of YouTube.
Around the end of the ‘00s, Lil Wayne seemed unstoppable. Single after single and mixtape after mixtape were released to massive popularity, leading to a wave of success that unceremoniously ended with a few bad releases, years of record label battles, and seemingly unending personal troubles.
Like a Greek tragedy, Weezy’s ultimate expression of pride would come before his fall, however. And it’s from this still-prosperous era—one in which an artist’s ego swells enough to make them forget why people come to see them perform in the first place—that we are left this Ozymandian monument to celebrity self-confidence.
We’re talking, of course, about that era when Lil Wayne started playing guitar.
Probably the best example of Wayne’s very bad guitar solos, the solo occurred during a 2008 episode of Saturday Night Live hosted by Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps. It’s a gorgeous example of celebrity hubris. While the solo begins around 3:30, it’s worth watching the entire performance to properly build up to the moment when the the rapper whips the guitar from around his back, holds it like it’s a puzzling alien artifact, and begins picking out an effects-free lead melody with classic, beginner-style downward thumb strokes atop an otherwise solid performance of Tha Carter III’s “Lollipop.”
Watching his left hand anchored to a static position on the neck, eyes downcast in concentration on the repetitive, piercing solo, it’s easy to see how we’d end up with Rebirth, the ill-fated “rock album” that sent Wayne’s stellar ascent crashing back down to earth. Versatility is important for any musician in it for the long haul: it just turns out that picking up a guitar is not the path everyone should follow.