Before I go on, I will say right now that this indeed an article that is specifically directed at Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr. You might know him as Lil’ Wayne.
This is an open letter to the man himself, but also as well as being an open invitational, I would like to bring some awareness to the public consciousness as well, in regards to a few issues that have bugged me as an individual on a personal level. I do not hold any kind of malice towards Lil’ Wayne, nor do I even know the guy. But I really, REALLY do hope that wherever you are Dwayne, that you will read this at some point or another.
So, if you do not know who Lil’ Wayne is, then here are the brief facts…
– He is one of the most successful rappers in the world with multi-million selling albums, and is also part of the extremely successful Cash Money record label based in New Orleans & Florida.
– He has in fact (as of September 2012) had more songs in the Billboard Hot 100 chart than Elvis Presley, with a total of 109 songs to date.
– Additionally, he has also had a prolific amount of run ins and dramas with not just the law, but other artists in the hip-hop world. You could say he is a tad controversial.
So without further ado, allow me to adapt on this particular matter at hand.
This is directly aimed to hopefully at some point or another, become part of your visual digestion.
I do not know you by any means, and nor should you know me either for any reason until now.
I am just but a 27 (soon to be 28) year old lad from South-East Kent in England, UK. Just like you were once upon a time, just a guy with high ambitions looking to get somewhere within the music industry.
I write to you today with a totally honest, constructive, and hopefully moral opinion on a pressing issue that you are now fully aware of, that I have had a personal grievance with for nearly 20 years… Epilepsy.
I will say right now that when I first heard your music and got to check out a bit about what you are about as a rap artist, I did not vibe with it. In fact, I still do not think that you are that much to brag about as an artist either. So musically speaking, it is safe to say that I am definitely not your biggest fan at all.
I myself am not too much of a fan of a vast portion of modern hip-hop, as I am one who likes to have substance within what I have to hear. I do not buy all this absolute repetitive drivel that I hear with a lot of MC’s who can only rap about how much cash they got, how shiny their jewellery is, how much they pride in taking an enthusiastic stance on misogyny or disrespect towards females, and exactly what kind of ‘lifestyle’ they live… when frankly the only lifestyle they live is off of the advance that the record label has loaned them, only for them to pay it back and live their cream of the crop lifestyle from a dodgy little apartment in a suburban neighbourhood.
I am personally a fan of early hip-hop going from Kurtis Blow and DJ Kool Herc, to the beginning of the 80’s uprise with Eric B. and Rakim, LL Cool J, Public Enemy and Run DMC, to the second golden era of the early / late 90’s hip-hop acts from Wu Tang Clan, Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg, Onyx, A Tribe Called Quest, Cypress Hill, and Nas but to name a few. For me, the soul of hip-hop was desecrated due to the commercial exploitation and misinterpretation within social culture. That is not to say that I do not like hip-hop these days because I still love and believe in it, but I just prefer something with a bit more substance and message. I think you would agree that this could well be clarified in the amazing lyrics on the track that is ‘I Used To Love H.E.R.‘ by Common Sense.
Anyway, whilst I can safely say that I do not claim to be a fan of your music (especially your guitar playing), I can however say that I have a lot of respect for you as a business man. Whilst I am sure that the persona of Lil’ Wayne is the main pulling attraction to millions of fans worldwide (and rightly so, you have worked hard for it), it is interesting to see how you are as a tactical business man, the man being Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr. I absolutely applaud the efforts you have gone through to ensure that you have exactly the money, power, and fruits of life.
I do not really care what you did to get there, because in this day and age you got to do what you got to do in order to get to the top. I myself do not come from the most squeaky clean of backgrounds, and I am sure you do not as well, so massive respect with how far you have come. But this is not the particular reason that I am building up to…
Back in March, I read an article revealing that you had discovered you had Epilepsy after a string of seizures whilst on the road. I read up on the other stories leading up to the grand revealing, and it was at this point in time that I actually started to feel a group of slightly mixed emotions. But when I read the article and listened to your radio interview about just what has been going on, that was when I really started to pay attention. I started to wonder… clearly it is all fine in the world of Lil’ Wayne (apart from the rather silly court cases you have gotten yourself in to ), but is everything alright on the world of Dwayne?
If you are reading this you are probably thinking… “What the fuck is this jive-talking white dude from England getting at? What the fuck does he know about my personal life?“.
Well the fact is, in regards to the Epilepsy… I know a LOT about that area. So if I may, let me tell you a bit about myself and what experience I have had with this most shit of illnesses…
When I was 7 or 8 years old, I had what you may know as a ‘grand mal’, to everyone else out there that is what is known as a ‘big seizure’. After this happening, I was later diagnosed with what is called ‘Photo-Pattern Sensitive Epilepsy’. This is actually a rare form of Epilepsy (strobe lighting, anxiety, and clustered patterns mainly being the culprits to setting of fits), to which could be seen as a hybrid form. In this case, it is a combination of Photo-sensitive and Pattern-sensitive strains of Epilepsy, to which (from what I have been told by specialists) I am only the third person to have this kind.
So in a manner of speaking, it is kind of like the speedball of the neuroscience world. In other worlds, heroin and cocaine (which makes ‘speedball’) do two separate things… mix them together and you have got twice the danger and double the trouble. In that respect, I was more prone to epileptic seizures than most, and that I was more likely going to win at a breakdancing championship no matter who the contender!
Since then I had seizures every single day up until I was 15 years old. I could have up to at least 3 or 4 smaller seizures a day, and maybe about one or two fuck off huge seizures that basically caused me great injury on the odd occasion (particularly one occasion where I had a seizure, put my head through a microwave, smashed my jaw on some concrete tiles, and split my head open on a concrete floor).
It is the worst feeling in the world, and without meaning to sound like I am pigeonholing right here, only epileptics know just exactly what a seizure feels like. In a manner of speaking, it is the closest you could probably get to death but knowing you are going to come back after the crazy trip that is about to follow.
I have been on every form of bloody medicine going for it, as doctors could not necessarily predict what my strain of Epilepsy was about. Particularly to the point that the two other people who has what I have were permanently brain-damaged. I was the only one to talk about what I had, and I had to make my decisions for what medications I took (I have taken everything from Epilim Chrono, Lamotrogine, Tegretol, and even opiate based medications), how I wanted to live my life, what risks I took, and just how I can rapidly alter my life for the better and learn to live with that shit.
Since my last seizure when I was 15 years old (the year 2000), I had to go without (and during my time with this) alcohol, drugs, and all these other things like… ooh, a social life. I was condemned from taking the original career paths that I was initially meant to go on, and I thought that life would be pretty bad with no career prospect.
This is where I found my strengths within music. A field, an industry, and a passion where you cannot be judged by any means. This is something for everyone, and this is where I was able to find my two feet and be able to get a degree in Creative Music Production and Technology.
Since 2000, I have done a lot of things that I never thought I would be able to do, been places where I never thought I would be, and met a lot of truly amazing people. I live a fucking sweet life, and I would not have it any other way, no matter what the success story may well be. I take pride in being the underdog whilst you take pride in being the top dog in your game. What does not kill you only makes you stronger… something that I have taken a lot of pride in knowing.
Moving on a little bit… a fair few years ago I read a book called ‘Touching From A Distance‘ by Deborah Curtis. This is a biographical account on Ian Curtis from Joy Division. Now Dwayne, I do not know if you have ever heard of Joy Division or Ian Curtis, but I sincerely recommend you read that book. It talks about his life, excesses, and his inability to cope with the stresses of dealing with Epilepsy, which inevitably took his life. This one book alone was enough to motivate me in a way that even I thought was not possible. In a way I actually felt genuinely sorry for the guy. If i was in the same place at the same time as he was, I would have done anything I could have done to let him know that it is a manageable thing, and that you can live a normal life and deal with it.
So when of course I saw what you were going through these past few months, I felt the need to reach out because I guess I actually feel sorry for you, with a genuine sense of sympathy that I only know and understand.
I am sure that in your entourage or management, record label, family & friends, or whoever could well be supportive of everything that you are going through. But believe me, whilst I am not on the same stages around the world that you are on or even performing to that, this is my platform. With this I write this not trying to be critical towards your music, but I am reaching out to you in terms of a reply.
Whilst you get the support that you may well need, there are things that you just cannot really get on the same wavelength with most people when it comes to this shit.
Check it out, I am certainly no saint, but I sure as hell know that when you know someone is going through some shit that they may not truly understand or comprehend no matter what culture you come from, you extend message to reach out because you know EXACTLY what that person is going through. In this case Dwayne, I know exactly in terms of health issues what you are going through.
Do not let the pressures of fame and all that other bullshit that other companies, court cases, and organisations may be pressuring yourself in to. Did you know stress and anxiety is one hell of a way to trigger off seizures? In fact it is one of the main contributors.
Maybe even one day when you beginning to understand and respect the condition that you have, that you may even donate some of the profit from your next upcoming album towards an Epilepsy foundation or charity in order to strengthen research in to possible cures and remedies to help others. I think that would be a significant contribution towards such a cause. Especially as you know that it could be something that you could personally help out on. Dwayne, money is necessary but it is not everything, your life and your health is far more important that a few notes with a small percentage trace of cocaine on it. Money mean shit compared to life at the end of the day.
Additionally, why do American dollars smell like mouldy cheese? That is something that has always bugged me…. but that is beside the point.
So the whole premise of this letter is this….
Dwayne, I am reaching out to you to actually want to have a conversation with you in regards to your Epilepsy.
As an ex-sufferer (and quality breakdancing champion in the process), I know how fucking difficult it can be learning how to cope with this shit in your life. But sometimes it is always to get an outside opinion from someone with experience.
I did not even have to write this letter if I thought that it mattered. But for some reason it meant something to write this, because I also genuinely believe that there could be people out there within the music industry, in bands, maybe even people in other jobs and industries, that have been condemned because of their health issues, and that kind of attitude towards someone with these conditions quite frankly makes me sick.
It does not matter who you are or where you come from, if you want to achieve something that bad and you want to make a success out of life, or if you have already made a success of your life in your case but have got something to which you feel that you cannot control, then you take control of what you got to do and do whatever it takes to make it happen.
Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., get back to me.
My name is James Paul Matthews. I work at Hit The Floor Magazine. I am just another underdog from England, UK who has a fair bit to say, I do not have much in my life but I will not let anything stand in my way to get what I want to get. But in this rare case it hit a personal issue of mine to which I feel that I could help out with in a small way in regards to what is going on with you.
I do hope that you or your management reads this somehow, because this is me signing off with something for you to think about.
Wherever you are mate, have a good day. Stay healthy, don’t let the bastards or the bastard health get you down, and continue to pursue your path of happiness and content.
Yours truly and with sincere respect and peace,