This leaked early version of the Lil-Wayne-lead rap troupe’s 2010 radio hit1 doesn’t differ a great deal from the version that eventually dominated the airwaves, but it’s still worth a spin as it offers an interesting look at how artists polish songs. In this version the chorus remains the same, as do most of the verses.2 The only differences3 can be found in Lil Wayne’s verse that opens the track.
First, Wayne changes his original simile “I keep her running back and forth like a soccer team” into the hashtag line4 “I keep her running back forth. #SoccerTeam.” The reason he chose to make that small alteration is unclear. It doesn’t dramatically change the line, or the line’s meaning. As I said, it seems like he’s crossing the I’s, dotting the T’s, and eliminating the Like A’s.
Secondly, Wayne ends his verse with “Young Money thieves / Steal your heart with ease” as opposed to the final version which concludes “Young Money thieves / Steal your love and leave.” This alteration is a little more substantial that the previous one. The second verse clearly marks Wayne and the group as more emotionally detached from the romantic enterprises they’re engaged in. You’ll fall in love with them, but they won’t care. This is a description that Weezy actively cultivates, so it makes sense that he would trade out the original line for one more clearly in line with his persona.
Now, it’s definitely tempting to use the fact that Wayne is the only one to alter his verse as evidence for his claim to be the best rapper alive. Weezy’s always set himself apart by being the hardest working man in the business, so of course he would be the one tweaking and perfecting his verse right up until its official release.
The problem with this is that it too easy and too simplistic. There are countless variables at play in the recording of an album, particularly one that features so many artists that typically act independently of each other. Sure, Wayne may have been the only one who cared enough to keep working at his verse, but it’s equally likely that he was the only one who had the time or access to edit his part.
In any case, this alternate version isn’t one that can be really dubbed inferior or superior to the final take. It won’t replace the original on your iTunes, or become your super secret party mix weapon. Ultimately, it’s simply an interesting look at an artist’s process and nothing more.
1. Drake is on that #dadswag in that video. #robeswag #morningpaperswag
2. Sadly, Gudda Gudda’s verse is already there. I should really start making remixes of rap songs that don’t change the track at all except for removing Gudda Gudda’s verse. Seriously, dude is easily the worst rapper in the game (and yes, I am including John Cena and MC Skat Kat in that hierarchy). I mean, “And I got her, nigga: grocery bag” is absolutely baffling. No one knows what the hell he means. NO ONE. This is the explanation on RapGenius:
3. Aside from the fact that in the track’s final roll call, Lil Wayne says “Lloyd” instead of letting him sing his own name.