LOS ANGELES (AP) — As Lil Wayne was honored for his musical achievements, the rapper opened up about the little he has been recognized previously in his career during a pre-Grammy event that also paid homage to Dr. Dre and Missy Elliott.
“I don’t get honored,” Wayne remarked Thursday night at the Recording Academy’s Black Music Collective event in Los Angeles, where he, Dre and Elliott were given the Dr. Dre Global Impact Award. The honorees received the renamed award for their personal and professional achievements in the music industry.
DJ Khaled presented Wayne with the award and a hug, while Drake and Deion Sanders paid tribute to him through video messages. Swizz Beatz, 2 Chainz and Tyga performed some of Wayne’s hits as well.
During his acceptance speech, Wayne explained how the responsibility of making adult decisions was first placed on his shoulders at age 12, when he signed his first record deal with Cash Money. The 40-year-old rapper thanked his mother, the mothers of his children and his kids.
“Where I’m from, New Orleans, you’re not supposed to do this,” the five-time Grammy winner continued as many in the audience at the Hollywood Palladium cheered him on. “Where I’m from, I walked into my momma room when I was 14, she asked me for a kid, because my dad was killed and her son had just blew up and went on his first tour. When I came home, she said, ‘Son, I can’t live in this house by myself. We’re going to have to figure something out.'”
Dre talked about starting his musical journey with the initial thought of making enough money to “buy a decent pair of shoes” to wear to school. The producer-rapper recalled when he first heard hip-hop for the first time in junior high school, and spoke about his knack for collaborating.
“One of my passions is collaborations,” the seven-time Grammy winner said. “I never in my entire career done anything alone. I don’t even know if I want to be in the studio alone. It sounds boring.”
Dre was honored with performances by Snoop Dogg, Kurupt and Ty Dolla Sign. Dogg performed “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang” and “Deep Cover” before the threesome joined together to perform “Ain’t No Fun (If the Homies Can’t Have None),” which was produced by Dre.
Some in the audience were moved to tears by Elliott's heartfelt speech praising music executive Sylvia Rhone, who also received the impact award.
“She saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself,” the four-time Grammy winner said of Rhone, the Epic Records CEO who is regarded as one of the most influential executives in the industry. Rhone made history in 1994 when she was named chairman and CEO of Elektra Entertainment Group. At the time, the promotion made her the only African American and first-ever woman to hold the titles.
“She never told us ‘no,’” continued Elliott, who recently became the first female rapper to receive a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nomination. “She never told me, ‘You need to lose weight.’ She never told me, ‘You need to change your records.’”
Chloe Bailey performed Elliott’s “One Minute Man” and sang a rendition of Aaliyah’s “One In a Million,” a song Elliott produced with Timbaland. Ciara and Tweet hit the stage to perform Elliott’s hits, while Busta Rhymes also performed in honor of Rhone.
The event marked a celebratory night for the Black Music Collective, a group of prominent industry leaders that formed in 2020 to find ways to drive Black representation and inclusion. Some of the honorary chairs include Jimmy Jam, Quincy Jones and John Legend, who was honored with the impact award along with MC Lyte and D-Nice last year.