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King Wayne

Back in 2007, rapper Lil Wayne no-showed for a concert at MacArthur Court on the University of Oregon campus. Katie Matthews, life-long hip hop fan and employee at Skip’s Records & CD World in west Eugene, says she’s “still a little bitter about it.” 

At the time, Wayne was considered the greatest rapper in the game. Fans loved his free-associative and surrealist lyrical style and bad-boy image. Detractors labeled him cartoonish, but many found his madness inspired.

“He was charismatic, talented and really enjoys drugs,” Matthews recalls. “This is what youth has flocked to since the beginning of time.” 

But like a lot of young stars, Wayne flamed out quickly. “I don’t know exactly what happened,” Matthews continues. “Perhaps he became a caricature of himself. Perhaps he grew tired and needed a break. He’s been professionally rapping since age 9.” 

These days, audiences seem more interested in Kendrick Lamar or Chance the Rapper. Pop culture moves quickly, and the world of rap music even quicker. I ask Matthews whether Weezy, as Wayne is sometimes called, can make a comeback. 

“Everyone has ups and downs in their careers,” Matthews says. “Shit happens. It’s hard to sustain the level of hype he was operating under in any genre, let alone the ‘here one moment, gone the next’ buzz bin of mainstream rap.” 

Nevertheless, Matthews roots for the fallen champ. “Weezy still matters ’cause he’s only 34 years old and has accomplished all of the above. That’s extremely admirable. He’s so young still. His legacy is strong.” 

Lil Wayne closes out Cuthbert Amphitheatre’s summer concert season 6:30 pm Thursday, Sept 28; $55 advance, $60 door, All-ages.