"Rest in peace to Cash Money Weezy,” Lil Wayne raps early into his “Free Weezy Album.” “Gone but not forgotten.”
The rapper has yet to resolve the nasty legal battle with his longtime label, Cash Money Records, but he’s continuing to sate fans awaiting his studio album by offering another project, this time a fully realized album in the form of a free mixtape.
Shortened to just “FWA,” the album was a surprise release exclusively to Tidal during the Fourth of July weekend.
Wayne’s new mixtape is a raw, incendiary offering of relentless rhymes, tight production and, like this year’s “Sorry 4 the Wait 2,” features some of his best work in recent memory. Appearances from Young Jeezy, Wiz Khalifa, Cory Gunz, Bibi Bourelly and more dot the 15-track project.
The status of Wayne’s studio album has been up in the air since December, when he shocked rap fans by claiming the label and mentor Bryan “Birdman” Williams were withholding the album and that he was owed tens of millions of dollars.
Earlier this year Wayne hit Cash Money with a $51-million lawsuit, alleging Williams (whom Wayne has long referred to as his surrogate father) and the label withheld substantial payments for the album.
Other allegations outlined in the suit included failure to pay for overhead costs for the rapper’s Young Money imprint (a subsidiary of Cash Money) and neglecting to file royalty reports for Drake, a Young Money signee along with Nicki Minaj.
For “Tha Carter V,” Wayne says he is owed $10 million, per a 2012 contract extension that would see Cash Money giving him a $10-million advance per solo album -- $8 million paid at the start of recording and $2 million paid upon delivery, according to the lawsuit.
As the legal battle rages, the rapper can’t legally put albums up for sale but can release music free. So, instead of dropping “FWA” on SoundCloud or a mixtape site such as DatPiff, he became the first artist to drop an entire project on Tidal.
But the move shouldn’t come as a surprise. Last month Wayne announced he was joining Jay Z’s fledgling streaming venture as a co-owner. Wayne celebrated his stake in the company by issuing the fiery “Glory,” which opens the new album.
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