NEW YORK — Platinum-selling rapper Lil Wayne appeared to have won at least one more day of freedom Tuesday when his sentencing on a weapons charge in New York was delayed due to a courthouse fire.
The fire at the New York state court complex in downtown Manhattan injured eight people, including a prisoner and five firefighters, before the building was evacuated and the flames extinguished.
The diminutive, heavily tattooed singer, winner of four Grammys in 2009, had already managed to delay his expected one-year sentence by a month when the New York judge allowed him to stay on bail for dental work.
Wayne, whose real name is Dwayne Michael Carter, pleaded guilty in October to weapons possession after a loaded .40 caliber pistol was found on his tour bus.
The 27-year-old rapper, whose songs and videos deal with the usual rap themes of gun violence, police, money and scantily-clad women, could have faced as many as 15 years under New York’s tough firearms laws.
The light sentence reflected a plea deal made with prosecutors. He could get out after as little as eight months with good behavior.
Along with his dental procedures, he has also been using his last days of freedom to make sure his musical career doesn’t get locked up with him while in jail.
He told MTV music channel he’d shot seven videos just before his day in court.
“Still got two days left. I lost count. We shot seven videos last night. Tonight, we gonna eat, then go to the studio, then we gonna get some verses in and party,” he told MTV News.
The question now is whether Wayne will receive special treatment while in prison, or whether he will have to negotiate the same infamously tough conditions as less prestigious convicts.
MTV reported that on Sunday Wayne held a farewell party in Miami with his Cash Money Records crew. He was presented with a cake inscribed: “Keep Your Head Up Weezy! We love U.”
MTV quoted a New York corrections officer saying that Wayne would be housed and treated just like other prisoners.
In blogs, rap fans question whether Wayne, who has made references to the notorious Bloods gang in his songs, can be kept safe from rival Crips gang members in prison, or even Bloods members.
The singer won four Grammys in 2009, including awards for best rap song, best rap album and best rap solo performance.