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The Story Behind Lil Wayne’s Teardrop Tattoos

Rap icon Lil Wayne is known for his raspy voice and clever wordplay, but many also talk about the rapper’s many tattoos, notably on his face. Over the years, Lil Wayne’s face has become more and more covered with tattoos, but still clearly visible under his right eye are two teardrop tattoos.

Teardrop tattoos are about as thug as they get. Commonly seen in prison and gang culture, they are generally perceived to represent the number of people whom you have killed, but it can also mean that you have been prison raped, or less commonly that you’ve served time.

At one point, Lil Wayne also had a teardrop tattoo under his left eye. That tattoo has since been covered up by a tribal tattoo coming from his forehead.

He has yet another teardrop (you may not count this one) on the lower left side of his mouth, making for a grand total of four teardrop tattoos.

Lil Wayne in 2009. Photo by Ray Tamarra.

Lil Wayne has apparently been asked about the meaning of his teardrop tattoos, to which he responds that they are to represent family members who have died.

However, it was at his mother’s request that he covered up the teardrop under his left eye, and as Wayne claimed she said it was because he had too many of them.

He didn’t elaborate much from there, though some do question why his mother wanted him to remove that specific teardrop, questioning whether she was connected to any dark deeds that Wayne may have done to represent the tattoo.

There is naturally some speculation that Lil Wayne’s teardrop tattoos may actually represent murders, rather than dead family members like he says, as many of his songs have included references to gun violence and the Bloods.

Lil Wayne was also involved with Birdman’s Cash Money records in the early days, since 1996 which was before he got his face tattoos. Birdman is a known gangster, with ties to the Bloods, of which Lil Wayne and Young Thug are also reportedly members.

What I’m saying is it wouldn’t be such a stretch to think that Lil Wayne may have been involved in some shady business when he first entered the hip-hop scene.

Especially considering Lil Wayne was just 14 years old in 1996, a member of the Hot Boys, the speculation about the real meaning of those tattoos is warranted.

Of course, if Lil Wayne truly did kill somebody, he would never admit that on camera, so the speculation will live on.

Watch a 2011 interview with Lil Wayne at the top of his game below, where he discusses his tattoos, sipping lean, and all-around keeping it real.