Today, Lil Wayne was released from Rikers Island, having completed an eight-month sentence for weapons charges stemming from his arrest in July 2007.
The sentence — a year, with time reduced for good behavior — wasrelatively severe, due to New York's tough gun laws. But it did givehim some time to recharge: The MC said he's been writing lots of lyricsin jail and plans to hit the studio as soon as possible after he'sreleased.
Wayne had been beset by legal problems even before his prison termbegan — including drug-possession charges in Atlanta and Arizona, and arelated arrest in Idaho. With that in mind, here's a look back atWeezy's meandering trip through the criminal justice system.
July 22, 2007: Lil Wayne is arrested after his first headliningconcert in New York and charged with one count of criminal weaponspossession and one charge of criminal possession of a loaded weapon.Police search his tour bus after allegedly smelling marijuana smoke;prosecutors claim he tried to conceal a .40-caliber gun that was foundon the bus. Wayne's lawyers repeatedly claim the gun did not belong tohim and that police had no legal cause to be on the bus. Waynecomplains about the robust police presence from the stage and ishimself searched upon entering the venue.
October 22, 2009: After several court hearings that produce DNAevidence reportedly attaching the gun in question to Wayne, the rapperpleads guilty to felony gun possession and is expected to be sentencedto a year in prison as part of his plea deal. Barraged with questionsafter the hearing, Wayne only says "What's up?," according to MTV News.
December 15, 2009: Wayne appears in a New York courtroom, where hissentencing is set for February 9, 2010. He is expected to begin hissentence the same day.
January 2010: Wayne records furiously as his sentencing dateapproaches, laying down dozens of songs and videos, some in front of agreen screen. His long-delayed "rock" album, Rebirth, is finally released at the end of the month.
January 31, 2010: Wayne performs "Forever" at the Grammy Awards withEminem and Drake, accompanied by Travis Barker on drums. Two dayslater, he appears on the Quincy Jones-helmed remake of "We Are theWorld," along with Kanye West, Usher, Pink and others.
February 2010: In an article published before his sentencing, Wayne tells Rolling Stoneof his jail term: "I look at things as 'Everything is meant to be.' Iknow it's an experience that I need to have if God's putting me throughit. So I don't look at it as wrong, I just ... I damn sure don't lookat it as right, that's all."
February 9, 2010: In the hours before his sentencing, Wayne posts a video on Ustreamsaying good bye to his fans. "I'm out this bitch!" he says. "To all myfans, my real fans I really, really truly love you. I love you with allof me for real."
February 9, 2010: Wayne's sentencing is delayed until March 2 so hemay undergo dental work. "I don't want this to get pushed backanymore," Judge Charles Solomon says, according to MTV News."This is the last adjournment." At some point in February, Wayneundergoes a reported eight root canals in a single day. He alsoreleases a series of videos in the days leading up to his secondsentencing date.
March 2, 2010: The beginning of Wayne's jail term is postponed yetagain following a basement fire at the courthouse where he was to besentenced; the fire is later ruled accidental. That night, Wayne joinsYoung Jeezy onstage during his set opening for Jay-Z at Madison SquareGarden.
March 8, 2010: Wayneis finally sentenced and begins his jail term. Hours before thesentencing, he sends a tweet that says: "Law is mind without reason.I'll return."
March 28, 2010: A brawl takes place among prisoners at Rikers, but Wayne is not involved.
April 2, 2010: Wayne launches a new website, WeezyThanxYou.com, to keep in touch with his fans and blog about sports. A post about Donovan McNabb joining the Washington Redskins is put up 12 days later.
May 3, 2010: Diddy visits Wayne in prison for an hour, the New York Daily News reports. Wayne later says this was the biggest surprise visit he got.
May 7, 2010: For Mother's Day, Wayne posts a long tribute called "A Mother's Worth" to his mom and the mothers of his children.
May 13, 2010: MTV Newsreports that Wayne was caught with headphones, a charger and an MP3player in his cell ——all forbidden items that could complicate hissentence. He is not punished for the infraction until he is moved intosolitary confinement in October. Wayne makes light of the situation ina call to DJ Scoob Doo six days later. Later that month, Wayne hosts a mixtape for Scoob from prison, and records a verse for Drake, both via phone.
June 30, 2010: Wayne is sentenced to three years' probation by anArizona judge stemming from his 2008 arrest in the state, on drug andfirearm possession charges.
August 3, 2010: Wayne calls in to Funkmaster Flex's show on New York's Hot 97, saying he didn't want to "bother" his proteges Nicki Minaj and Drake with phone calls.
August 16, 2010: A bored-sounding Wayne posts a letter on his website titled "Just Another Day,"where he talks about playing Uno and working out. "Well ain't nothinggoing on in here but the time, which seems like it's taking forever,"he writes.
Septmber 27, 20101: Lil Wayne makes a surprise call in to the premiere episode of MTV's show The Seven . When he is released, he says he's going to "hug and kiss my kids. And, uh, after that, I don't think I'm allowed to say."
October 13, 2010: Wayne posts a letter on his blog from solitary (where he was moved earlier that month) titled "I'm Back.""By now I'm guessing that you all have heard about my recent relocationto the bing, which is punitive segregation. Basically, no T.V., noradio, no snacks/junkfood, and one phone call a week/ This punishmenthas been handed to me for my earlier MP3 incident. I admit, I f----- upand now I must deal with the consequences. "I do miss being able tohear from my family everyday but once a week will have to suffice. Tothem, I apologize," he continued. "I'm still able to receive mail soreading and responding is still a huge part of my day. I'd like tothank everyone that sent me B-Day cards and wishes ... that wasterrific. You all are wonderful, simply wonderful."
October 20, 2010: Wayne's I Am Not a Human Being album, recorded before he began his sentence, reaches #1 on the Billboard albums chart.
October 27, 2010: A Rikers guardis reportedly suspended for spending 45 unauthorized minutes with Waynein solitary. A different guard had been fired previously for allegedlymaking an unauthorized visit to the rapper, although she denied thecharge.
November 1, 2010: Bryan Williams (a.k.a. Birdman), co-founder of Lil Wayne's Cash Money label, tells Rolling Stone that they're seeking a plane with a studio so Wayne can begin recordingimmediately after leaving jail. "We're gonna deal with that microphone,no trip," he says. "You can't keep him out of the studio."
November 2, 2010: Wayne posts what is presumably his final letter before his release from prison, titled "The End of a Long Journey"and including a photograph of a luxurious bed beside a beach. He thankshis family, fans and friends. "I don't have to change for no one butGod. I will be the same Martian I was when I left, just better."
November 4, 2010: After being told he'd have to wait one more day to get out, Lil Wayne is released from prison.