Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. (born September 27, 1982), known professionally as Lil Wayne, is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, record executive, entrepreneur, and actor. His career began in 1995, at the age of 12, when he was discovered by Birdman and joined Cash Money Records as the youngest member of the label, and half of the duo The B.G.'z, alongside fellow New Orleans-based rapper B.G. The duo then joined the southern hip hop group Hot Boys, with Cash Money label-mates Juvenile and Turk, in 1997, which foresaw the release of their debut album, Get It How U Live!, that same year. The group became popular following the release of the platinum-selling album Guerrilla Warfare (1999) and the 1999 single "Bling Bling". For many years, Lil Wayne was the flagship artist of Cash Money Records, before ending his long-tenured deal with the company in June 2018.
Lil Wayne's solo debut album Tha Block Is Hot (1999) was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). His subsequent albums, Lights Out (2000) and 500 Degreez (2002), went on to be certified gold. Lil Wayne reached higher popularity with his fourth album Tha Carter (2004), as well as with his appearance on the song "Soldier" with Destiny's Child that same year. The album was followed by Tha Carter II (2005), as well as several mixtapes and collaborations throughout 2006 and 2007. Lil Wayne gained more prominence with his sixth album Tha Carter III (2008), which became his most successful album to date, with first-week sales of over one million copies in the United States. The album won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album and includes the singles "Lollipop", "A Milli" and "Got Money".
Following the success of Tha Carter III, Wayne decided to record a rock-esque album titled Rebirth. The album, released in 2010, was certified gold by the RIAA, despite a generally negative critical response. In March 2010, Lil Wayne began serving an 8-month jail sentence in New York after being convicted of criminal possession of a weapon stemming from an incident in July 2007. His eighth studio album I Am Not a Human Being (2010) was released during his incarceration, while his 2011 album Tha Carter IV was released following his release. Tha Carter IV sold 964,000 copies in its first week in the United States, and includes the singles "6 Foot 7 Foot", "How to Love" and "She Will". On September 27, 2012, Lil Wayne became the first male artist to surpass Elvis Presley with the most entries on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, with 109 songs.
His twelfth studio album, Tha Carter V, was released in 2018 after multiple delays. It sold 140,000 copies in its first week and went on to be certified platinum. Lil Wayne has sold over 100 million records worldwide, including more than 15 million albums and 37 million digital tracks in the United States, making him one of the best-selling artists of all time. Lil Wayne also currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of his own label imprint, Young Money Entertainment.