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Many questions, few answers on Lil Wayne's status

March 19, 2013|By August Brown and Gerrick D. Kennedy | This story has been updated. See below for details.

At 6:28 p.m. Friday, a note appeared on rapper Lil Wayne's Twitter account: "I'm good everybody. Thx for the prayers and love."

The tweet was meant to quash reports that the hip-hop mogul was gravely ill from an alleged prescription cough medicine overdose.

That evening, a representative for the rapper would say only that Lil Wayne was at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in West Los Angeles, recovering from a seizure. On Monday, Wayne's label chief said the rapper had been admitted to the hospital March 12 for a seizure after a video shoot.

PHOTOS: Rapper Lil Wayne a.k.a. Dwayne Carter

The 30-year-old, born Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., is one of the biggest stars in hip-hop and pop music, having sold more than 12.9 million albums and 37 million digital singles. The New Orleans performer has seven No. 1 rap albums and has won four Grammy awards, including a Grammy for rap album for "Tha Carter III" in 2008, and his label, Young Money, helped launch the careers of Drake and Nicki Minaj.

On Friday, as rumors swirled that Carter was near death, Mack Maine, president of Young Money, declared on Twitter that "Wayne is alive and well!"

"We watching the Syracuse game ... thanks for the prayers and concern .. he will update you all soon. #love," Maine wrote. "We will be releasing an official statement shortly but dont believe the nonsense about comas and tubes to breathe...that's false!!"

STORY: Lil Wayne reportedly leaves hospital

Pop music has always reveled in a certain amount of mystery and intrigue surrounding its stars — from rumors of Beatle Paul McCartney's death swirling in 1969 to rumors that the Doors' Jim Morrison is alive. But misdirection and conspiracy theories have in particular accompanied stories of hip-hop artists in peril, from the slayings of the Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur to Rick Ross' own intense seizures and Gucci Mane's time in a mental hospital.

And today, social media speculation, tabloid sites and tweeted spin from artists, their staffs and fans have accelerated the pace of the rumor mill and fostered an environment where too much information — good and bad — makes the truth elusive.

The tweet from Carter's Twitter account Friday was in stark contrast to reports just an hour prior, when celebrity gossip site TMZ posted that the rapper's condition was so grave that he was being given last rites.

But as the TMZ reports circulated, members of Carter's camp and rappers such as T.I., Busta Rhymes and Bow Wow shot back that the gossip site had it wrong, that although the hitmaker was in the hospital, he was far from any such danger.

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TMZ later retracted the last rites claim, and did not return messages requesting comment Monday.

On Monday, Bryan "Birdman" Williams, co-founder of Cash Money Records, called into Angie Martinez's New York radio show and said that Carter had had previous seizures but that he had only one last week. 

"To me, honestly, it's his work ethic," Williams said in the radio interview. "How hard he works. How much dedication he gives to his music and his fans. It had nothing to do with drugs. No such thing like that, to me. It was nothing about no drugs. Just needs to get some rest and relax. He'll be back, normal, like everyone else."

Dr. Jacqueline French, president of the American Epilepsy Society and co-director of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at New York University's Langone Medical Center, said Carter's recovery was contingent on whatever "underlying condition" might have sent him to the hospital.

"People recover very well, though it may take a while to control. It really depends on what else is going on. Lack of sleep, medication changes, low blood sugar," said French, who is not involved in Carter's treatment. "Some illegal drugs can [also] cause acute seizures."

Carter's new album, "I Am Not a Human Being 2," is scheduled for a March 26 release.

[Updated 8:30 a.m. March 19: Carter was released from Cedars-Sinai, his publicist said late Monday. Mack Maine, the president of Carter's label Young Money, tweeted: "@LilTunechi has been officially been released and is headed home...God is great." Lil Tunechi is Carter's nickname and Twitter handle.]

august.brown@latimes.com

gerrick.kennedy@latimes.com

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