Lil Wayne - Music Career - 2000–05: Lights Out, 500 Degreez, Tha Carter and Tha Carter II

2000–05: Lights Out, 500 Degreez, Tha Carter and Tha Carter II

His 2000 follow-up album Lights Out failed to attain the level of success achieved by his debut but was certified gold by RIAA. Critics pointed to the lack of coherent narratives in his verses as evidence that he had yet to mature to the level of his fellow Hot Boys. The lead single was "Get Off The Corner" which was noticed for an improvement in lyrical content and style, it also received a music video. The second single which received less attention was "Shine" featuring The Hot Boys. Near the release of Lights Out, Lil Wayne was featured on the single, "#1 Stunna" with Big Tymers and Juvenile, which rose to 24th place on the Hot Rap Tracks charts.

Lil Wayne's third album 500 Degreez, released in 2002, followed the format of his previous two, with significant contributions from the Hot Boys and Mannie Fresh. While certified Gold like its predecessor, it too failed to match the success of his debut. The title was a reference to the recently estranged Hot Boys member Juvenile's recording, 400 Degreez. The lead single was "Way Of Life" which like the album failed to match the success of his previous singles. After the release of 500 Degreez, he was featured in the single "Neva Get Enuf" by 3LW.

In the summer of 2004, Wayne's album Tha Carter was released, marking what critics considered advancement in his rapping style and lyrical themes. In addition, the album's cover art featured the debut of Wayne's now-signature dreadlocks. Tha Carter gained Wayne significant recognition, selling 878,000 copies in the United States, while the single "Go DJ" became a Top 5 Hit on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart. After the release of Tha Carter, Lil Wayne was featured in Destiny's Child's single "Soldier" with T.I., which peaked at No. 3 on the U.S. Hot 100 and the U.S. R&B Charts.

Tha Carter II, the follow-up to the original Tha Carter album, was released in December 2005, this time without production by longtime Cash Money Records producer Mannie Fresh, who had since left the label. Tha Carter II sold more than 238,000 copies in its first week of release, debuting at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, and went on to sell 2,000,000 copies world wide. The lead single, "Fireman," became a hit in the US, peaking at 32 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Other singles included "Grown Man", "Hustler Muzik", and "Shooter" (featuring R&B singer Robin Thicke). Lil Wayne also appeared on a remix of Bobby Valentino's "Tell Me", which rose to No. 13 on the U.S. R&B Charts. In 2005, Lil Wayne was named president of Cash Money, and in the same year he founded Young Money Entertainment as an imprint of Cash Money. However, as of late 2007, Lil Wayne reported that he has stepped down from the management of both labels and has handed management of Young Money over to Cortez Bryant.

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