NPR logo Bill Clinton Is Eager For Lil’ Wayne To Leave Rikers, Get Back To Music

Bill Clinton Is Eager For Lil’ Wayne To Leave Rikers, Get Back To Music

The release of rapper Lil’ Wayne from Rikers Island prison Thursday has former President Bill Clinton eager for the young rapper to get on with his life.

The topic came up on Election Day, when Clinton called in to the "Morning Freak Show" on Pittsburgh’s 96.1 Kiss FM, hoping to urge Democratic voters to visit the polls. In the interview I found on Gawker, after hosts Mikey and Big Bob ask for his take on Lil’ Wayne’s release, Clinton acknowledged that it may seem like “kind of a funny question” to ask a policy wonk.


But, the former president says, he became a fan of hip-hop – and presumably Lil’ Wayne — because of his daughter, Chelsea, who "introduced me to rap and hip-hop music after I said some things she thought were not very smart."

As a colleague notes, that introduction likely occurred in 1992, when a flap erupted over Clinton's references to Sister Souljah during the presidential campaign.

Clinton recommends looking past the street cred issue of doing prison time, saying that instead we should appreciate the skills and talents of rappers like Lil’ Wayne.

"I think a lot of these people, they don't get successful in that, just like any other area of life, by being really dumb. They're really smart. But a lot of them have had tough lives," he said, and they have a hard time staying away from trouble.

Of Lil' Wayne, Clinton said, "This guy’s smart, and he’s got ability, and he’s got a new chance now."

“What I hope will happen is that he has a good life now.”

The radio hosts then reminded Clinton that it’s a rare week that sees the release of Lil’ Wayne – and another return of the McRib sandwich.

The Other Carter: Former President Bill Clinton, seen here speaking to former President Jimmy Carter, lauded the intelligence and talent of rapper Dwayne Carter -- or Lil' Wayne -- Tuesday. Davis Turner/Getty Images North America hide caption

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Davis Turner/Getty Images North America

“Yeah, it’d be pretty good for people that like both!” Clinton said.

The 42nd president’s chat on Kiss FM might have boosted the spirits of budding rappers, but it didn’t seem to lead to a strong Democratic showing in Pennsylvania. Republican candidates won 14 of the 21 of races there Tuesday.