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With his long dreadlocks, croaking voice and penchant for zaniness, Lil Wayne is, to say the least, an unpredictable MC. The former University of Houston political science undergrad has recently undertaken some interesting career moves. This past year, he released free online mix tapes by the handful and recorded guest verses with just about anyone who would have him, from Shakira and Beyoncé to Chris Brown.
But his newest collaboration will have even his most die-hard fans scratching their heads. In an attempt by the not-quite-mainstream rapper to reach a broader fan base, 24-year-old Wayne has announced that he will rap on the remix to the High School Musical franchise's latest installment, High School Musical 2: Non-Stop Dance Party.
"Yup, I had to do that," Wayne says with his trademark high-voltage smile, shortly after welcoming a reporter into his Miami Beach mansion for an exclusive interview. "I'm trying to reach those suburban kids like Kanye did, but I want to go further. I want, like, eight-year-old white kids, six-year-old white kids. Babies in diapers, even."
The Disney Channel's High School Musical franchise is a pop-culture phenomenon, selling millions of DVDs and millions more CD sound tracks. But its clean-cut characters and positive themes don't seem to jibe with Wayne's lyrical content, which tends to focus on giant marijuana spliffs and boasts about receiving sloppy fellatio.
"I'm just being me," Wayne insists, leading a tour of his recently purchased oceanfront house, which features a faux bronze statue of his own nude figure and a Juicy Fruit-dispensing bathroom attendant who lives on the premises full-time. He adds that the project was set in motion after a chance meeting with HSM star Zac Efron.
"Zac and me was both in San Francisco a few months ago for a comic-book convention, and we met at an afterparty at some bar," he says, pausing to break down pieces of pungent pot to roll into a joint. "To get away from these girls that was chasing him, he ducked into the bathroom and I followed him in there. I was like, 'What's crackin', my brother from another mother?'"
At that very moment, as if on cue, Efron himself emerges from Wayne's den, grinning ear-to-ear like he's already been into Wayne's medicinal stash. Later it comes out the brunette 20-year-old heartthrob is crashing in Wayne's guest room while the two collaborate on their Non-Stop Dance Party songs, but for now it's like seeing a polar bear in the midst of the Brazilian rainforest.
"What's up, my nigga?'" Efron says, giving Wayne a pound, a hug, and then, to my astonishment, a full-on kiss reminiscent of the one Wayne famously gave his surrogate father Baby last year. (Needless to say, it's clear that Efron is going to have to work harder to squelch those rumors surrounding his sexuality.)
"What was we talking about here?" Wayne giggles, emerging from the embrace. "Oh yeah, about me putting the 'high' in High School Musical."
"I've been a big fan of Wayne for a long time," says Efron, his wispy-hair-framed face growing suddenly serious. "Growing up in San Luis Obispo, my friends were more into crap like Fall Out Boy and Radiohead, but I was like, 'Nah man. Young Money, Cash Money!'"
"A lot of my people thought it wasn't too cool for me to get involved with this guy right here," continues Wayne, grabbing Efron by his pink Bape hoodie and putting him into a headlock. "But our music together is beautiful crazy, like smoking angel dust on Jupiter or something."
Breaking free from Wayne's grip, Efron cues up the room's CD player, which just happens to be sitting atop a cage full of sleeping pit bulls.
"These are the cuts we just finished," Efron says, adding that the disc will be released the day after Christmas, and mine are the first media ears to hear them. "Dope, right?"
I wish I could share his enthusiasm, but the songs are a bit jarring, to say the least. Wayne's left-field rhymes and off-beat flow clash with the songs' hand-claps and PG-rated choruses. "I'm the best rapper alive, mixing Scotch and soda with some Five Alive," Wayne raps on "Fabulous," built on a bouncy rhythm fit for a junior-high dance.
On "All for One," Efron sings the chorus: "Everybody all for one, a real summer has just begun! Let's rock and roll and just let go, feel the rhythm of the drums. We're gonna have fun in the sun!" Meanwhile, Wayne raps, "I'm a dog, you're all a bunch of fleas on my dick. Driving a Jag, er, like my name was Mick. I'm so sour like cream with chives, and my sperm will make your face break out in hives."
While I'm listening and taking notes, the guys have undertaken an impromptu game of parlor-jumping, bouncing between suede couches, a trampoline and Wayne's Tron pinball machine. They stop for Efron to take a phone call from a hysterical Vanessa Hudgens—his HSM co-star and girlfriend—and eventually we head upstairs to the kitchen for a snack of Sunny Delight and Swiss Cake Rolls.