Lil Wayne Questions Katrina Emergency Response at Haiti Relief Press Conference
Lil Wayne sent the media reeling during a press conference on Wednesday (Feb. 3) when he took a minute to discuss his inclusion in the star-studded remake of Michael Jackson's 'We Are the World.' After explaining that he felt honored to have the chance to cover Bob Dylan's verse, the New Orleans rapper shocked reporters with his closing comment. As he prepared to leave his seat, Weezy quickly added, "I think it's amazing what's been done for Haiti, but I also think it's amazing what hasn't been done for New Orleans," before walking away.
There were immediate murmurs of "Kanye West" from the crowd, who were reminded of Kanye's 2005 outburst after Katrina. During the all-star benefit for victims of Hurricane Katrina, West infamously declared on national television that "George Bush doesn't care about black people." Though the comments came as a shock following the line of celebrities who only had positive words to say about the millions raised for the Haiti relief fund, Wayne's tone suggested that the New Orleans native was irked by the lack of response to the Katrina emergency compared to the current flurry of help for Haiti.
Michael Hecht, president and CEO of Greater New Orleans Inc., a leading nonprofit organization in Louisiana, told MTV News that Wayne's comments were not an accurate reflection of the state of affairs in New Orleans. "The New Orleans region since Katrina has been the recipient of tens of billions of dollars of assistance, not to mention scores of individuals who have committed their time and effort to rebuilding the city and region," Hecht, said.
MTV reported that according to the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, $120.5 billion has been invested in the city's recovery fund since the hurricane. Hecht said that due to the mass funds and man hours dedicated to rebuilding the city, Business Week recently named NoLa "one of the best places in the country to ride out the recession." "Perhaps there's some frustration on his part because it didn't arrive quickly enough or took too long to come online," Hecht said of Wayne's comment. "But it's not atypical after a disaster of this size, like something on the scale of 9/11 in New York, where it tends to take three to four years for rebuilding to start because of bureaucracy, insurance claims and literally waiting for the dust to settle," he said.
Other New Orleans residents chimed into the debate, telling MTV News that the swift response to the disaster in Haiti was likely a result of the learning experience from Katrina. Check out the video of Lil Wayne's comment below.