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The Meaning of Lil Wayne’s “How to Love”

Lil Wayne’s “How to Love” was the third single from his 2011 album Tha Carter IV, and saw him taking a softer approach to hip-hop than his general standard. Here, Lil Wayne raps about love and relationships, taking a sympathetic, encouraging stance towards a woman who has had a difficult time in life.

If you know old school Lil Wayne, you know that he doesn’t often write gentle music. Whether “How to Love” is about an ex-lover, a friend, or even just a general message to women and daughters everywhere (Wayne himself is a father of four).

Inpsired by Tupac’s “Keep Ya Head Up”

During a 2011 interview with MTV, Lil Wayne said that “How to Love” was inspired by Tupac’s famous song, “Keep Ya Head Up.”

“That song is just sweeping the world,” Lil Wayne said. “It’s touching every woman, that’s what it was for. It was like Tupac had ‘Keep Ya Head Up’ and it was a message to women and little girls across the world just to keep your head up even though things are hard. That’s what my song was.”

Tupac – “Keep Ya Head Up” (1993)

Wayne continues, commenting on the struggle of the woman who can’t love for deeply personal reasons:

“A lot of women don’t know how to love because there’s deep reasons for them not knowing how to love,” he explained. “And what I mean by deep reasons is deep and dark reasons. A lot of people don’t open up that can and I figured that I can open up that can of worms and see what happens.”

“How to Love” Lyrics Meaning

With the backdrop set, let’s highlight some of Lil Wayne’s lyrics and see how he “opens up that can of worms.” As we know, Lil Wayne is addressing a woman that he holds dear to his heart.

“You had a lot of crooks try to steal your heart”

This woman has encountered a lot of foul lovers who did not have her best interests in mind.

“Never really had luck / Couldn’t never figure out / How to love”

Continuing with that opening thought, Lil Wayne points out that no matter how many men entered her life, she never quite figured out how to have a healthy relationship — how to love.

“You had a lot of moments that didn’t last forever / Now you in a corner, tryna put it together”

She reflects on these failed relationships. She’s down and hiding away, trying to work out how to finally have a healthy relationship.

“It’s hard not to stare the way you’re moving your body / Like you never had a love, never had a love”

Lil Wayne is watching this woman dance, and based on her promiscuous body language, one might assume that she’s never really had a lover. This is a sad image, one of a woman using her body for material gains, but not cherishing it with love.

“When you was just a youngin, your looks were so precious / But now you’re grown up, so fly it’s like a blessing”

He has watched her grow up, from the precious girl into an exceptionally fly grown woman.

“But you can’t have a man look at you for five seconds / Without you being insecure”

Despite her beauty, this woman struggles with self-image. This is due to the core message of the song, which is that she never figured out “How to Love.”

“Now you’re sitting here in this damn corner / Looking through all your thoughts and looking over your shoulder”

There is an undercurrent of this woman wanting to change, and doing her best. She looks back at her life, while looking over her shoulder. It leans towards the idea that this woman is caught in a cycle of contemplating her past mistakes, relationships, and life choices. But her past also haunts her, making her paranoid about making the same mistakes in the future.

Therefore, “looking over her shoulder” serves as a metaphor for her being stuck in a mental loop—forever evaluating what’s behind her, even as she tries to move forward.

“The fact that you saw the world affected all your decisions”

Lil Wayne describes a woman with a unique, and realistic view of the world that informed the way that she moved through life.

“But it wasn’t your fault, wasn’t in your intentions / To be the one here talking to me, be the one listening”

She never intended to end up in this kind of place, talking to Lil Wayne.

“But I admire your poppin’ bottles and dippin’ / Just as much as you admire bartending and stripping”

It’s not all bad, though. Lil Wayne likes to watch her, and if we’re being real, she does like bartending and stripping.

Wayne ends with a direct reassurance to this woman that she is beautiful and special, and he just wants her to know.

Watch the heartfelt music video for “How to Love” by Lil Wayne below.

Lil Wayne – “How to Love” (Music Video)