Read an Exclusive Excerpt From Lil Wayne’s Prison Journal, Gone ’Til November

Illustration: Zohar Lazar
‘Damn, I Really Don’t Deserve This’
In 2010, Lil Wayne spent an eight-month jail sentence at Rikers Island, where he prayed, worked out, and kept a journal. Here’s an excerpt from Gone ’Til November, which is out this week.
Illustration by Zohar Lazar

Day One Up in This Bitch!

I’ve never been one who doesn’t take full responsibility for his actions, but damn, I really don’t deserve this. If I hadn’t traded my blue Marc Jacobs jeans, white polo, and gray Vans for green onesies, I wouldn’t have believed this shit myself. 

I had to talk to the prison psychiatrist when I got here. I told her that I shouldn’t be talking to her because I’m not crazy … but I ended up really enjoying her conversation. Is that crazy? We talked about traveling the world, where we’ve been and where we would like to go, BUT both of us were in jail … crazy! 

My next conversation didn't go so well. As I was being led to the captain's office, I was still just trying to figure out what I was about to go through. I got lost in the thought of how each step that I made was one step farther from everything that I love. And to what? A world of dysfunction, disrespect, and distrust. Come to think of it, it is sort of like the music biz only without the female groupies.

As soon as I sat down in the captain's office, his exact first words to me were, "Don't fuck with my staff!" Damn! Definitely won't be getting any celebrity treatment from the captain. The whole conversation was him telling me, “Don't come in here trying to be what you are. You're not gonna ‘Lil Wayne’ up this mothafucka!”

All I was thinking was, Since there's nothing else to explain here, I'm done with this dude, so just take me to my cell and I'll stay out of your way. After the captain's great words of discouragement, I was handed a towel, two sheets, a toothbrush, toothpaste, and a green cup. Oh yeah, and a cell, cell 29.

As soon as I heard the cell door lock behind me, I just sat on the back wall and the tears began to flow as I took my first glimpse at my new digs: three buckets, one bed, one toilet that was surprisingly kind of clean (emphasis on kind of), a rusty-ass sink with a mirror the size of a small notepad, a desk, and a window. A clothesline was left hanging in the cell. I decided to leave it because I figured it would come in handy.

I got in just in time for chow, which is the overall term used for what they call breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I only ate the veggies because I wasn't too sure what the other stuff was.

I wasn't in the mood to do much socializing, so I kept the first-day meet and greet short. I guess not everybody on staff got the captain's memo because two C.O.’s were suspended for trying to come up and see me ... females of course. Maybe there will be some female groupies in the bitch after all.

Fuck ... one down!

Welcome 2 Da Family

Woke up at 4 a.m. for breakfast "chow." I had coffee that was given to me along with some other "goodies." The guys on my tier made me feel like I was a part of a family ... like a brotherhood. I was the new brother and they showed me love just like one. All in all, they gave me magazines, tea, some better soap than the prison's soap, an earphone radio, and extra chow.

There's Chris, who gave me the radio. He looks 15 years old, like he's in here for stealing gum. There's Lawson, who gave me the magazines and taught me how to use the phone. Twenty-one minutes every five hours. Sheesh!  There's Herb. He gave me some advice on how to do this time. Shit like, make sure to stick to myself, and to create a daily regimen to keep myself busy every day. He suggested working out, but I know my body ain't built for that. There's Al, whose cell is across from mine. He's 50-something, but he acts 20-something. Reminds me of an old Mafia guy. Then there's Coach! The guy that likes guys ... you know it had to be one of those. But he can and will get anything you need. I guess you can call him a "sweetheart," haha!

Now, as far as the C.O.’s, there's one who really stood out. White dude. He's loud, funny, and mad cool. He kept it so real with me from the jump, like, “Stay away from all these bitch-ass niggas ... none of them are your friends.” Him being a C.O., he knew why everybody was up in this bitch. Let's just say that he pointed out all the dudes who became gangstas mysteriously overnight when they found out that I was coming ... haha!

And then there's Ms. Burke. Owwww! She's so sexy! She has a head full of gray hair, but she's not old. I'm not sure what caused it, but she said that her hair has been gray since she was 13. My first impression was that it's just her swag and she dyed it gray on purpose. That's how cool it looks on her. I mean she's fine as hell. I'd definitely hit it!

Still Got It!!!

Shot hoops with Al in the yard. I sucked. He was much better and he's 57! No sooner when I got back to the cell at 2:45 p.m., I was back out to take the test for the suicidal-protection aide job. I passed with a 100, no lie. Guess I still got it. And I guess I still get that moola, baby, because SPA is the highest-paying job an inmate can get. The job is basically to monitor the tier for an eight-hour shift and if someone wants to hang up (meaning to kill themselves), to not negotiate with them or try to talk them out of it, but just to alert an officer. Yeah, it's that real.

When I got back to the cell, I wrote some rhymes and did some push-ups until about 4:30. Ended up playing checkers with Dominicano. Lost!

Then I had to get ready for my visit, which was Tez, Mack, and E.I. That was a great visit. I miss them niggas. Had chow when I got back. It was this chicken special that Coach and LL make. Shit was great! Also made my own rice and noodles with it and put it on a tortilla wrap. Shit was awesome. I felt fat.

Used the phone cautiously. Spoke to my little man D.M.C. III, he said, “Da-da.” Fucked up that I had to hear it for the first time in here, but still, Yeah!

Showered up quickly then had tea. It's 10:45 p.m. and I'm back in my cell listening to a game in the earphones as I write this.

Push-ups, prayer, sleep. Another day gone!

Jailhouse Rap

Read fan mail. Got some nice pictures today and Marisa sent me some Marc Jacobs cashmere socks, yeah!

Some people write the most bugged-out things. Everything from wanting to fall asleep with my dick in their mouth, to that I rep my city “astronomically”! Crazy, man! I love it! Also read the new Rolling Stone and I was in it. Yeah!

I rapped for the first time on the yard for Charlie and Jamaica. It's crazy that I've performed in front of millions of people since I was 8 years old, but for some reason I was nervous as hell. Rapping has always been second nature to me, but my creativity has definitely been put to a test since being in this bitch. I absolutely refuse to rap about being in jail. It's not who I am AND it's not who I'm going to be! I hope they liked it. I think they did.

Chris gave me two bags of Doritos. I gave him some bubble gum. It wasn't a trade, just two generous guys. But yeah, someone blessed me with some gum, a Now and Later, and a Jawbreaker today. Yeah!

As a Man

I woke up still feeling fucked up about the fucked-up day that I had. Hell is what it was! I'm used to arguing with my girl on a daily basis, but finding out that she fucked Drake was the absolute worst thing I could've found out.

As a man, honestly, that shit hurt, and not because it was Drake. It could've been any man and it would've hurt the same. She said it happened way before we got together, but she just never told me. When Drizzy came to see me, he was like, "Yeah it's true ... don't fuck with her like that ’cause I did fuck her." Damn!

This is the type of shit that a man never wants to find out while he's locked up. Or maybe so, ’cause only God knows what I would've done if I wasn't locked up right now. As soon as I found out, I told them to just lock me in, and I've basically just been by myself in my cell for the last couple of days.

Not sure how long I would've stayed in there if it weren't for Charlie. His fat ass wasn't going to let me just sit up in this bitch and not eat. He was like, "I don't give a fuck what you're mad about, we cooking no matter what, nigga. Come on man, let's eat!"

As a man I'll admit it: That shit really fucked me up, but hey, fuck that ho!

Love is blind, that's why I say make sure that bitch is a seeing-eye dog.

Another one gone!

He Runs the City

I woke up feeling like today was going to be different for some reason. I couldn't put my finger on it, but there seemed to be a buzz in the building. I had my morning coffee like usual and chilled in the dayroom waiting on my visit. And what a great visit it was. Diddy kept his word and visited me today. It was total chaos! Every captain in the building was down there! Even the deps and the warden! Everyone just wanted to see him. It was kind of aggravating, but it is what it is.

Here No More

Today started out on some regular-day shit, but that's definitely not the way it ended. Jamaica got deported. We were just chilling in this bitch and they just came and got him like he had a visit. The only difference was, they were like, "Jamaica, pack up your shit." Damn!

The fucked-up thing is that Jamaica and I have become ... damn, do I dare use the "F" word in jail ... but really have become like friends. He was always asking me if I could help him out with a lawyer or something just to keep him here because he was facing deportation.

At first, I would just brush it off, but it got to the point that I reacted as if he were one of my homies that I grew up with. I was like, “Nigga, don't ask me for shit just because you know I got it. It's because of me that we're eating right up in this bitch. Don't stretch it by asking for a lawyer and shit.” That's really how I looked at it at the time. I really didn't know it was that serious. I guess he really did need a better lawyer. Damn!

The whole ordeal made me realize how there are no real friends in jail. As fucked up as that sounds, that's the reality. I remember when White told me that. He was like, "Y'all niggas can be as cool as you want in here. You niggas can fight together, eat together, play ball together, and all that shit. But nobody ever gets out of this bitch on the same day. And whoever gets out of this bitch first ain't worrying about nobody ass that still up in here."

I pray for everybody in here, but I really don't see myself keeping in touch with anybody but a couple of C.O.’s who never acted like dicks toward me.

What a day … at least it's another one gone!

What's Really Real

Damn, I woke up this morning missing having normal conversations about everyday shit. The only time that I can have anything close to a normal conversation is with a C.O. I can't even begin to try and have that type of convo with an inmate because they're always lying about whatever they're talking about.

I'd have to be the most gullible mothafucka on the planet to believe the stories that these niggas tell me up in here. I mean like everybody in this bitch is a king, a boss, or a killer ... Everybody either has or has had a billion dollars. It's kind of sad because I know that they're just trying to boost their egos, which is probably why most of these mothafuckas are in here in the first place. Your life has to be crazy as fuck when jail is the place to boost your ego.

I don't ever want to come back to this bitch! There's absolutely nothing cool about jail. It's nasty. It's dirty. Everything is fucking used. Getting something new in the bitch is like winning the lottery. You have to be a certain mothafucka to get new shit. And since I get new bedsheets and shit, it's a good thing that I'm that certain mothafucka!

When I got back from the yard, I just stayed on the phone as much as possible. I was really craving some normal conversation. I'm sure this was all caused by this dude telling me to slow down because I was beginning to act like an inmate.

I got into an argument on the yard and went straight gorilla. I was as un–Lil Wayne as I could get. I was in a nigga face like, Fuck you, nigga, what's good? Niggas had to hold me back and shit. That's when this dude was like, "You go home to something nobody else in here goes home to ... dude, leave that nigga alone. He'll be back in this bitch next month. You don't want to be back in this bitch, man. Don't act that way. Go home, bro. You're a millionaire. You're a superstar. So act like one." I couldn't argue with that shit ... damn ... and yeah!

The Remix, Baby

Who knew that my spirit was about to be lifted through the roof! Tez was like, “We want you to be on Drake's remix.” I was like, “How?” And he was like, “We're going to do it over the phone.” I'm like, “Shit ... I don't have anything else better to do up in this bitch, so let's go!” After I finished running it, I was kinda nervous on how it was going to be received. This was the first time that I haven't been in the studio to hear the playback before a song goes out.

I can't front, I'm really bugging out knowing that I can record a song AND it would be on the radio and everything. My main thought is, Damn ... if I can do this, I'm about to go to the studio every night. I told Tez to have the mic on standby from here on out.

Nothing else that happened today mattered. Nothing can touch how happy I am. My creativity is at an all-time high right now! I'm actually looking forward to tomorrow.

Writing, writing, and more writing! Another one!

So Blessed

Just got back from my visit. I have the best friends, fans, and family in the world. I've been in this bitch for a good minute now and have never missed a visit yet. You get two visits a week and I haven't missed one yet! That shit is incredible ’cause I've never seen Jamaica get a visit. The only visit I saw him get was the mothafuckas who deported his ass came and got him. Coach has never got a visit. Dominicano has never got a visit. Charlie has never got a visit. I got every visit I was supposed to get. I've been able to look forward to seeing someone every chance I was able to see someone ... THANK GOD!

I even feel blessed when I argued with my girl during visits because it would become the topic of my day. And by the time we spoke later that day, the argument was so amplified in my head that I couldn’t wait to jump on the phone with her. Being that she was dealing with real-life shit and not up in the hellhole, she would normally have forgotten about the whole thing and be on some "I love you, Baby" vibe ... I'm like, BITCH!!! That shit might sound crazy, but it's awesome to have something to look forward to that takes your mind out of being in jail!

I told her I didn't want her to wear any panties so I can look at her pussy and shit one time. But since I never wear the same T-shirt, boxers, or socks more than one time EVER, my nigga E.I. always brings me new T-shirts, boxers, and socks every visit. And they have these extensive-ass searches before you come in here, so they made her put on a pair of boxers because they knew she didn't have on panties. Damn!

I have to give props where props are due ... big shout-out to Diddy, Chris Paul, and Kanye for coming to see me, especially with their schedules. I know that they had to go through some extra shit, because you just can't walk in this bitch and say, "I want to see Dwayne Carter.”

It's lock-in, so push-ups, Bible, prayer, slow jams, and sleep. Another one!

*A version of this article appears in the October 3 2016, issue of New York Magazine.

From GONE 'TIL NOVEMBER: A Journal of Rikers Island by Lil Wayne, to be published on October 11th by Plume, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2016 by Young Money Entertainment/Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr.