NEW YORK—Lil Wayne, who owned last year's best-selling album and is currently No. 1 on the pop charts, pleaded guilty to attempted weapon possession on Thursday, and expects to receive a one-year jail sentence.
The performer, arguably rap's most popular artist and one of pop's biggest acts, previously had pleaded not guilty to illegal gun possession charges that carried at least 3½ years in jail upon conviction. He remains free on bail while awaiting his February sentencing.
The somber-looking rapper did not speak as he left the courthouse with members of his entourage, who piled into four SUVs.
Police said a gun was found on his tour bus in Manhattan in 2007.
The rapper, born Dwayne Carter, won last year's best rap solo performance Grammy for "A Milli." His albums include "Tha Carter," "Tha Carter II" and "Tha Carter III."
His trial had been due to start Jan. 20. The judge had been holding a hearing on a debated DNA profiling technique used to tie the rapper to the gun.
Lil Wayne, 27, also is scheduled for trial in Arizona on felony drug possession and weapons charges. He has pleaded not guilty in that case, which arose from a January 2008 arrest at a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint.
In New York, he politely answered the judge's standard questions with "yes, Sir" and "no, Sir" as he entered his plea to second-degree attempted weapon possession, a felony.
He acknowledged he had a .40 caliber semi-automatic loaded gun on bus.
When the judge warned that he would not be able to withdraw the plea as some people try to do, the rapper said, "I'm not one of those people."
Prosecutors said small amounts of DNA found on the loaded weapon connected it to the platinum-selling artist. Defense lawyer Stacey Richman said the gun wasn't Lil Wayne's, and the testing technique was too problematic to prove otherwise.
Police pulled over Lil Wayne's tour bus in Columbus Circle on July 22, 2007. They said they had seen and smelled marijuana smoke wafting out the door before the bus left a concert venue minutes earlier.
Police said that as an officer approached, the rapper tossed away a Louis Vuitton bag containing a gun.
The defense disputed officers' basis for searching the bus and noted that more than a dozen other people were aboard.
Over the past two years Lil Wayne has not only emerged as the best-selling figure in rap but in all music. His "Tha Carter III" topped all album sales in 2008 with 2.8 million copies sold off of hits like the No. 1 smash like "Lollipop."
A rapper since he was a teen, Lil Wayne's popularity exploded thanks to his voluminous output on the mixtape circuit and collaborations with other artists. He currently has the No. 1 song in the country with Jay Sean, "Down."
Lil Wayne is the latest in a long line of rappers to face incarceration after topping the charts. Tupac Shakur, Lil Kim, Beanie Sigel, Shyne, Mystikal, C-Murder are just a few of the names who have done a few months to several years behind bars for crimes committed after they became famous.
Earlier this year, T.I., who is also one of rap's top sellers, reported to prison in May for his conviction on weapons charges. He's expected to serve a year and a day.
While some rappers have not regained their chart status after prison or jail, Shakur became even more popular, and T.I. remains popular on the radio.