Two days ago, just before his 30th birthday, Lil' Wayne, Grammy award winning rapper and recently declared skateboarder celebrated by opening DEWeezy Skatepark in his hometown of New Orleans.
Located in the Lower Ninth Ward, Lil' Wayne's DEWeezy Skatepark is intended to be a beacon of hope and a rebirth for the community in an area that's seen little growth or rejuvenation since 2005, when it was virtually destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
In an interview Thursday at the park's opening, Lil' Wayne told The Associated Press, "I just wanted to help out my city, help out the people and the kids and give them something to do, something they haven't done before. It's always good to learn something new."
Professional skateboarder and this year's X Games gold medalist Paul Rodriguez was on hand, along with fellow Mountain Dew teammate Theotis Beasley to help commemorate the park's opening and to wow local kids with their bag of tricks, skating the park alongside novice skater Lil' Wayne for the crowd of spectators.
Born in 1991 Beasley has literally been a fan of Lil' Wayne for his entire life and his admiration for the rapper is evident, "First we got a tour of the park and learned about the city after Hurricane Katrina. There were six schools, now there's only one left. I'm glad they made a skatepark for the kids. It's not like Los Angeles, where we have all these skateparks."
Lil' Wayne's DEWeezy Skatepark was launched in conjunction with Mountain Dew, New York boutique advertising agency the Glu Agency, and the Make It Right Foundation, which is a non-profit started by actor Brad Pitt after witnessing the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. The Make It Right Foundation is engaged in building sustainable affordable housing and redeveloping the Ninth Ward.
Taylor Royle, spokeswoman for Make It Right said, "We were happy to be able to contribute recycled building materials, no-VOC paint and the region's first solar tracking array to the sustainable skatepark. We're delighted that the park is both safe for Lower Ninth Ward children and safe for the environment."
Housed in a pre-Katrina building, which survived the floods, the "green" skatepark will be run on solar power, and uses pervious concrete, which is a highly porous concrete that allows water to run through it.
The skatepark was designed and built by veteran park builders California Skateparks. The design mirrors the local geographic attributes of the neighborhood, with the quarterpipes at either end of the skatepark symbolizing the Mississippi River and the Bayou Bienvenue, and a line running through the middle of the park representing Caffin Avenue.
The DEWeezy Skatepark is named after Lil' Wayne's Trukfit clothing line, which launched at the Agenda Trade Show in January, in addition, Lil' Wayne's line of sneakers through Supra debuted in August at the Project trade show. Having recently appeared on the cover of skateboarding's biggest mail-order catalog, alongside some of the most prominent pros in the industry, Lil' Wayne appears to be carving out his place within the skate market.
Beasley's assessment of Lil' Wayne's new-found passion for skateboarding: , "He probably never got to see a skateboard as a kid. He loves it and he's already progressed so much from the first time I saw him. He's learning new tricks and making it happen."
In his latest video for "Same Damn Tune," footage of the rap star skating mini ramps and a flatbar is spliced together with footage from this year's Street League finals. Along with performing for tens of thousands, learning to skate, opening a skate park in his neighborhood, dropping a footwear line and a mixtape, the self-proclaimed "Best Rapper Alive" recently smashed Elvis Presley's record for the most songs in Billboard's "Hot 100". Not bad for someone who just turned 30!