Lil Wayne's Pardon Explained

In one of the final acts of President Donald Trump's term, he handed out a slew of pardons to notable celebrities and political allies. In the early hours before President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration, Trump granted clemency to 143 people on Jan. 20, 2021, per USA Today. Luckily for rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black, they were able to make the cut on Trump's list.

Bradford Cohen, who happens to be both Lil Wayne and Kodak Black's attorney, confirmed that they were both granted clemency by the outgoing president. "President Trump and his administration have been tireless advocates on behalf of the African-American community," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "These pardons are a perfect example of this administration following up on its reforms and commitments."

In December 2020, Lil Wayne (born Dwayne Michael Carter Jr.) pled guilty to a federal gun charge, per the The New York Times. The charge comes from an incident in December 2019, where Lil Wayne "illegally carried a gold-plated .45-caliber Glock handgun and ammunition as a felon while traveling on a private jet," per the outlet. Having been convicted of a gun charge in 2007, the "BB King Freestyle" rapper would have faced up to 10 years in prison, according to The New York Times. Being granted clemency about a week before his scheduled sentencing on Jan. 28, 2021, Weezy definitely has some celebrating to do.

Lil Wayne has spoken highly of President Donald Trump in the past

On Jan. 20, 2021, Lil Wayne was granted a full pardon by President Donald Trump for his charitable efforts and "generosity," per an official statement from the White House. "Brett Berish of Sovereign Brands, who supports a pardon for Mr. Carter, describes him as 'trustworthy, kind-hearted and generous,'" the statement read. "Mr. Carter has exhibited this generosity through commitment to a variety of charities, including donations to research hospitals and a host of foodbanks." Additionally, the statement noted that former NFL star Deion Sanders "also wrote in support of this pardon."

Trump's pardoning of the "Lollipop" rapper is raising a few eyebrows. Considering Lil Wayne shared a photo with Trump in the final days of the 2020 presidential race, there is speculation that the former was looking for a pardon. Despite not explicitly endorsing Trump, Lil Wayne praised him for his efforts with the "Platinum Plan" and criminal reform for the Black community. "Just had a great meeting with @realdonaldtrump @potus besides what he's done so far with criminal reform, the platinum plan is going to give the community real ownership," Lil Wayne tweeted in October 2020. "He listened to what we had to say today and assured he will and can get it done." 

While the photo-op allegedly cost the rapper his relationship with model Denise Bidot, at least Weezy knows Trump's got his back.

Rappers' support of Donald Trump fueled his reelection campaign

Former President Donald Trump's pardoning of Kodak Black and Lil Wayne may seem a little odd. If you're wondering how Trump benefits from granting clemency to the two rappers, we have a simple answer for you: he already did. Thanks to the help of a few rappers who helped to endorse the former President, Trump received some pretty good content for his 2020 presidential campaign.

Before Weezy's photo-op with Trump in October 2020, the latter was supported by rappers Kanye West, 50 Cent, Ice Cube, and Lil Pump. With Trump's goal to court the Black vote, his campaign team used the hip-hoppers' endorsements to their advantage. Per NPR, the Trump campaign was so pleased with the "endorsement" from Lil Wayne, that they promoted his tweet to its outreach list of Black voters, which only represents 8% of the Republican vote from the 2016 presidential election. Not only were the endorsements beneficial to Trump's track record of criminal justice reform, but it also allowed his campaign team to push a plain and simple message: Don't vote for Joe Biden. Although Trump lost fair and square, Lil Wayne's support was just enough to grant him clemency. So much for charity work!

Donald Trump granted clemency to this notable hip-hop mogul

Considering Trump's clemency list, it wouldn't be too far-fetched to think he's a fan of hip-hop. In addition to the two aforementioned hip-hop artists, the former President commuted the sentence of Death Row Records co-founder Michael "Harry O" Harris, per Rolling Stone. Harris served 30 years of a 25-year-to-life sentence for conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, per NBC. Due to his "exemplary prison record for three decades", his efforts in-house as a prison reform activist, and completing courses towards business and journalism degrees, the hip-hop pioneer will be released.

Clearly, nobody's happier about the decision than Snoop Dogg. Following the news, Snoop — who is close friends with Harris — had a message for the former President, per the New York Post: "They did some great work while they was in there and they did some great work on their way out. Let them know that I love what they did." Previously, in June 2020, the rapper slammed Trump's supporters. All in all, it seems like it's been an eventful day for hip-hop fans on both sides of the political spectrum.