I watched Lil Wayne grow up. From the wide-eyed eleven-year-old with the afro who started out rapping without cussing – because Mama Cita wasn’t havin it – to a guy named Weezy, who’d eventually offend nearly everyone imaginable – to a man who now declares himself a truly free man. I watched how Cash Money Records took an impressionable young brother from the hood, an exceptionally bright student who longed for his father, and who struggled with the evils of the caustic environment he was born into – and they shaped Dwayne Carter, Jr. into the young man he became – the one who the world made into a star.

But Lil Wayne wasn’t made by anyone. He did that. He was given a chance to take himself – and his family – outta the hood, for good, and he took it. Considering the fact that all of his children love him and enjoy the fruits of his labor, he accomplished that goal. Of course, along the way, he told women to suck his dick for a Trukfit outfit, and at one point he said some especially ignorant shit about Emmett Till. The fact that Wayne knows his history didn’t matter, because Weezy was known for offending people and not giving a fuck. So, at some point, you may have decided you didn’t fuck with Lil Wayne. Maybe it was the autotune. Maybe it was the skateboarding. Maybe it was the weird outfits. Maybe you just didn’t think he was saying anything but random gibberish.

Truth is, Wayne’s got bars. He might not be rapping about social change (although he has, and does), but he’s always putting together some metaphors, some punchlines, some onomatopeia, and all kinds of other linguistic lyrical shit. And he’s introspective, way more often than we think. He relishes in the spoils of the life he’s created, but he clearly hates the life he’s been stuck with as a result. He waxes melancholy anytime he talks about his experience in the industry, but he sounds like an artist who wishes he could just be a real artist.

So when Wayne dropped his first mixtape after leaving the “nest” at Cash Money, I wondered if we’d hear what the “real” Dwayne Carter had to say. Now we now that his fans have been waiting for his next album, but when he released “Sorry for the Wait” he wasn’t just talking about album releases. He spends enough time saying “Sorry” throughout this CD that you know he’s talking about more than that. He tells us about his failures, his worries, his anxieties, his griefs, and what he hopes to accomplish.

On “My Heart Races On” he shares his fears about losing his life. Considering the attempts on his life, this is not just music, this is real. He raps:

Remember me like they remember the Titans
Reality bit me and continue to bite me
Got no degree, but where I’m from that’s the original climate
Where you can’t tell a fiend a crack rock isn’t a diamond
Hold on, Lord, if my Bugatti come to a dead-end
I’ve already been everywhere except heaven
And tomorrow’s not promised
When I’m gone but not forgotten
I hope my homies calming down my momma, Lord
I guess I’ll see you on that other side
Where the flowers never die
The angels never lie
Yeah, the revolution will be televised
I just hope my contribution will be memorized
Oh, momma hate I got my daddy’s eyes
Never looked into my daddy’s eyes
He ain’t have the time
Fuck him, the revolution will be televised
I just hope my contribution will be memorized

I know I dont gotta decode this for you. Get past however you might feel about Lil Wayne, the artist, for a second. This is deeper than rap. This is morbid. This is what Tupac was going through. This is what far too many of us go through, living out our days in anticipation of when we’ll die. Fearing that we’ll be forgotten or remembered the wrong way. Fearing that it’ll come far too soon. We barely even live, because we’re stuck in this dark fog that keeps us from seeing a bright future ahead of us. Wayne was experiencing a hell of a crisis when he composed this, but Wayne certainly isn’t alone. What about you? You know that fog? I know you do. I do. Why do so many of us feel this way?

When I titled this post “Sorry for the Wait” I thought about Wayne’s declaration that he was now a free man, able to speak freely and be who he intends to be. Fittingly, the music is different. I also thought about how many of his critics had been waiting for him to apologize, for the many demeaning or offensive lyrics he’s penned over the years, and even if he held a press conference and attempted to apologize to everyone individually, there would still be those who hated him. It’s just the nature of being in the spotlight. People don’t see you as a fellow human being, full of flaws, inconsistencies, and erroneous ways of thinking and being that you might actively be working on – but instead as a “type” of person, a celebrity, one who should be held to higher standards than ourselves, because they…well, because they’re famous.

That’s the odd thing about fame. People who want fame really just want to be loved and appreciated. All artists crave it. All humans crave it. Yet, some of us start out real low on that self-love meter, and so we walk around with these gaping holes in our souls, hoping that someday someone, or something, or anything, will come to fill it. This is true of both men and women, especially those of us born into traumatic environments where we experienced dysfunctional relationships with love and our loved ones. We never fully learn how to love ourselves, and so we become stunted. Young-minded even as adults. Resistant to criticism because we fear change. Fearing change because we fear our true selves. Fearing our true selves because we don’t really know what’s in there. Most of us just don’t know ourselves as well as we think.

So, when you barely know your own wings, it’s downright terrifying to considering leaving your nest. But many of us do it every day. I left home at 16 to begin on this path of teaching the people. I never looked back. But my early experiences with getting kicked out the house – barefoot at nine years old – prepped my expectations for the long and hard road that followed. I was pushed into leadership early. By 19, I was responsible for hundreds of people. When I became a teacher, I gave myself to my students. Over the next 14 years, I taught over 10,000 children and countless adults. When my Earth Mecca Wise and I launched Supreme Design as a publishing company in 2008, we gave ourselves to the greater community. For seven years, we put all of our time and labor into putting out the books that would change the world. People were so excited about these books that we could barely keep up with the demand. Between 2008 and 2011 we published over 20 titles. The books spread all over the world, and people were waking up like never before. It was an incredible time. But it was incredibly demanding, on both of us. We sacrificed our time with each other for the people. We sacrificed our time with our children for the people. When Mecca was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in Fall of 2011, we were caught in the crossroads of our lives. I struggled to maintain the company while making my wife’s well-being my main priority. It was hell. I was still working as a teacher, attending to the needs of our 4-year-old and 16-year-old daughters, and struggling to keep up with our household while ensuring my wife received the best treatment possible. By 2013, her condition progressed to Stage IV. We had tried everything, natural, experimental, allopathic, you name it. It was worse than hell. We didn’t have a lot of money coming in, because we were barely processing orders at this time. We struggled to find help. It was hell times three. I don’t want you to cry, lil buddy, I just want you to understand!

I did my best to keep everything going. I didn’t do too good. We had over 1,000 unshipped orders and were thousands of dollars deep in debt. I mighta gone crazy around this time. I’m saying “mighta” cause I’m not really sure if I was full-blown crazy or just falling apart. Her condition got worse quickly. Too quickly. We thought she was getting better. Then, on September 19, 2014, she was gone. We were all devastated. I was 34, losing my wife of seven years. The mother of my children. My best friend. My business partner. My copilot. My confidante. My daughters were losing their mother. We were the only family they have down here. And now it was just me. Fucked up me.

When I say I was fucked up, I mean everything. Not just what the grief did to me, but every other issue I had in me, that I hadn’t fully worked through yet. Everything came to the surface, like a toxic stew bubbling with the acid of pain and the stench of despair. The grief itself was like walking through a deep, stinging fog, while treading through the mud of too many obligations, at a time when I wish we’d all just been free to grieve. But my eldest was heading to college, and my youngest was just beginning to learn independence. These kindsa experiences can really unsettle your whole soul. Some of yall know this, cause you’ve been through it. You know there’s so much that comes with a loss like this, but I wish that’s all there was to it. Cause there was still the people. The people. The motherfuckin people.

Truth be told, I resented the people for a while. I felt we’d been abandoned when Mecca became seriously ill. When she transitioned, I struggled to keep up with our home and the children’s needs. I retired from teaching and dedicated myself to them. I had to. We were all struggling. We could barely even talk about it. And I wanted to be available to my babies. But this was all happening at the same time that our current movement was brewing. I was at my wife’s bedside when we were protesting for Trayvon, and for Mike Brown, and at every step of the way – my heart was heavy. I wanted to help more, but my family needed me. I wanted to help bring some cohesion to all the elements currently working on different accords for the sake of our future – but I couldn’t step away. I barely made videos. I talked mostly about our personal lives on social media. I wasn’t writing books. I wasn’t writing anything. I needed for the people to wait.

When Mecca transitioned, I learned we were $250,000 in debt and had over 1,000 unshipped SDP orders. I needed to grieve, and to be there for my children, but how could all this wait? If I waited to patch these holes, the ships would sink. I sank all my personal savings and time into ensuring that all those orders went out to the people who paid for them, many of whom were incarcerated and desperately needed our literature to get them through. It took forever. I nearly lost everything. I didn’t think SDP would make it. I didn’t even know how WE, my family, would.

Around this time, I was in a real miserable space. You ever been there? A whole year or two (or maybe twenty) just fixed in that negative zone where the sky’s never blue and the morning never seems worth waking up to? You tend to be very thoughtless with people during those phases. These people may not know any of the trauma you’ve been experiencing, only how you made them feel. You can really make a mess out of your personal relationships when you’re depressed or exhausted (physically or emotionally). For those of us who, as a way of life, give ourselves to the people, this can be especially exhausting. I used to fret about all the lives being lost while I worked to handle all of the issues keeping me from teaching the people again, but while I genuinely cared about the fate of our people – I was tired of giving myself to everyone while – because I’ve never been an opportunist – I rarely expected anything in return. For years, SDP’s bank records show me and Mecca poured our own savings into the company, just because the people needed these books even if we weren’t making a profit yet. At some point, this same point of pride because a point of frustration for me, because we were BROKE!

Of course, you can’t share that kinda stuff with your audience. They might lose faith in you. They might criticize you if you seem to have too much, but they’ll also lose respect for you if you seem to have too little. That’s the scary part of being “famous.” You no longer get to just be you. Everything you say and do matters, often to people who have never met you. As much as I wish I’d never hurt anyone, there’s just no way to please everybody. Especially not if you have any intention of honoring yourself. And that’s what I’m on now. Mecca Wise taught me, as I now teach my children, that we have to love ourselves first. I share that message daily, so I’ve gotta live it out. I titled this post “Sorry for the Wait” because I want to do more than apologize for falling behind on book business. I want to apologize to everyone I offended, everyone I dismissed, everyone I was insensitive to, and anyone who I didn’t take into better consideration while I worked my way through this fog. I know I hurt people, and despite the fact I was hurting myself, I’m in a good enough place to take accountability, and not assume I did everything the best way. I’m sure I was doing plenty of things the wrong way. Any man who don’t feel that way don’t see himself as capable of error, and that’s no way for anyone to be.

That’s why I have to destroy some of the old me to build the life I now want to create for myself and our people. It took a LOT for to come out that fog, to bounce back from grief and deep depression, and to jump back into this world of service. I can’t check every notification that hits one of my social media accounts, so I’m going to be sharing from here, as I transition to a new business model. One that works lol. For those of you who know my work, I’m going to share what I’ve figured out since I last wrote How to Hustle and Win. I want to give you all the solutions I’ve found. And all the crazy shit I’ve been through. I’ve learned. So I’m back to working on the curriculum that changes the world, and we’ll have most of our out-of-stock titles back in print soon at www.supremedesignpublishing.com  along with several new releases on depression, relationships, parenting, race, and everything else the people have been asking for. I’ll also be sharing a comprehensive model for community development at www.the360movement.com where we’ll make everything open-source so you can just get to work on what needs to happen in your city. It’s taken me a long time to get back to yall, because what I’ve been going through has been so challenging I really wasn’t sure if I’d ever get back to the “old” Supreme Understanding.  After some months of introspection, I realized there was no way.

Cause who wants that? You don’t want to hear from the 26-year-old Supreme Understanding, who wrote as a single man without children. Those books are already in print. I’d rather you hear from the 34-year-old Supreme Understanding. The retired widower with the kid in college, who’s been running independent companies for 15 years now. That’s a guy who really knows something. I’m not saying the insights in How to Hustle and Win weren’t good. They’re so good they’ve sparked many of the most potent minds of today’s generation. I’m saying that there’s point to all this struggle and turmoil we go through. For people like me, these experiences are not only transformative, they provide us with the life lessons we use to succeed at new levels. It’s only from going through this hell that I’ve described above – that I was able to rise above and find happiness where someone else might have found a nervous breakdown or chemical addiction.

If THAT’S not some education we could all use, I don’t know what is. Because our people are rising up. I see the change in the wind. All we need is good orderly direction, from a credible source, on the solutions to the problems that affect us all. It has be a teaching that can be used by anyone, at anytime, anywhere in the world. And it needs to be accessible and affordable. We need that more than anything else, because millions of us want to change the world now, but not many of us have an idea of how to do so. That’s what I’ve always considered my work. To take these complex concepts, like “liberation,” and make them accessible to everyone, especially those of who feel especially unliberated in the traps we call our hoods.

All that to say, I’m here. I know it took me a minute, but I’m back. Sorry for the wait!

Supreme Understanding