Mona Lisa
by Lil Wayne (featuring Kendrick Lamar)

Album: Tha Carter V (2018)
Charted: 21 2

Songfacts®:

  • This song finds Lil Wayne and Kendrick Lamar spinning tales of deceptive women in their lives. Weezy tells the story of a deceitful woman who sets her "boyfriend" up for a robbery, while the Compton MC's verse addresses a woman he doesn't trust in a relationship. The women are likened to Leonardo Da Vinci's famous painting of Mona Lisa, whose ambiguous smile can be interpreted as hiding secrets.
  • The tale of wicked, deceitful women was likely recorded several years before it was included on the Tha Carter V album. This is indicated by the fact that Wayne references the "Black Mamba" nickname for Kobe Bryant, who played his final game in April 2016.
  • "Mona Lisa" first surfaced in May 2017, when Martin Shkreli leaked a snippet of the track live on Periscope. The disgraced US pharmaceutical businessman had claimed he'd bought the rights to the Tha Carter V album and he could be heard saying, "It's the best song on the damn thing."
  • This is the fourth time that Lamar and Wayne have worked together. Both jumped on Jay Rock's 2009 song "Colors" and on Mike WiLL Made-It's "Buy The World" from his 2014 mixtape Ransom. Weezy also gave the Compton MC an exclusive new verse to his remix of "Mr. Carter."
  • Kendrick's verse features a ringtone sample of Wayne's 2008 hit "Lollipop" after the part in his verse where he accuses his girl of messing around with Weezy.
  • The song was produced by Marco "Infamous" Rodriguez-Diazs and Angel "Onhel" Aponte. The original version of the beat was created in 2014 towards the end of when Carter V was originally supposed to drop. Infamous recalled to Rolling Stone that Lil Wayne called him, and asked him to come up with a beat for some rhymes he was working on. So he and Onhel, who was working for Weezy at the time, went up to Infamous' studio and came up with an instrumentation. They played it for Wayne, who turned into the concept of "Mona Lisa."

    Meanwhile, the release of Tha Carter V was delayed due to contractual disputes between Wayne and Cash Money Records. As he waited for the album to be dropped, Infamous chipped away at the song. "The beat was different, more of a four-bar rap loop," he explained.

    Once Infamous heard Kendrick's part, he knew hr had to match the two rappers, "They went so in on it," the producer said, "I couldn't just leave a four-bar loop for them."

    Infamous' adjustments started off with changing some chords and adding some strings. He then "cut everything to tape and record everything like it's the 1960s so I can treat it like a sample and re-sample it.'"

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