Birdman Compares Lil Wayne to Michael Jackson
Cash Money Records CEO Bryan “Baby” Williams is a winner. The New Orleans entrepreneur founded his now-ubiquitous record label in 1991 locally, then took it to Universal Music Group in 1998 and signed a $30-million deal with them. The label has since gone through key lineup changes, most notably when Juvenile (Cash Money’s former flagship artist) left the label in 2001. After all the ups and downs, it was Lil Wayne who emerged as the face of CM in the new millennium thanks to the success of his Tha Carter album trilogy.
Even with Wayne currently serving a jail bid for gun possession, Cash Money, which also houses Weezy’s Young Money brand, is thriving thanks to its diverse and extensive roster. Of course there’s Drake and Nicki Minaj, as well as non-rapping stars like Kevin Rudolph and Jay Sean, who all keep the label at the forefront. Then, there’s Birdman himself, who last year released his forth solo album, Pricele$$. XXLMag.com caught up with the No. 1 Stunna to talk about his success, Cash Money’s expansion and Lil Wayne’s anticipated release from prison.
It seems like you never stop working or putting out music. What’s in the works for Cash Money?
Shit, we workin’. We got Tyga’s album. We workin’ on Bow Wow’s album, Brisco’s album, Nicki’s album, Wayne’s album, my album, Jay Sean’s album… A few movies in the works. Just grindin’, bruh. I love the challenge of doin’ music. We wanna be the best that ever did it and do the most. We got the opportunity and I promise you we’re gonna go hard as fuck like we ain’t got a dollar.
When you think about it, it’s kinda crazy how Cash Money outlasted all the other labels that y’all came into the game with. Labels like, Ruff Ryders, No Limit and Roc-A-Fella.
I look at that shit as we went through war and we sustained the weather and we stood in the fog. Even when muthafuckas counted us out, we stood up and we manned up. We did everything we had to, to get where we’re at today. I think God gives it to ya when he feels you’re ready for it. It took us a long time; we had to go through a lot of changes. A lot of obstacles, losses, gains. I just think right now we’re so great at this shit. We got so many young niggas who look at me and Wayne and what we’ve accomplished. You see the hunger [that] Drake and all the rest of those little niggas [have] because they’re reaching for those stories. We work like niggas who never made a dollar and I think that’s impressive to them. That makes them go harder. Those little niggas got promising futures.
Plus, you diversified. Before it was just a New Orleans thing, now you have Nicki Minaj from New York and Drake from Canada. It’s not just rap either, you have Kevin Rudolph and Jay Sean.
We had to do that. We had to expand for a longer run. I felt like that was very important. Honestly, we’ve been tryin’ to do it, we just never got it off the ground. Now that we have the staff and Universal believing in us, allowing us to have the staff and to do the things we do, it should make it that much easier. But when you have a company that ain’t supportin’ you and you’re trying to do a lot then you’re gonna lose.
As successful as the label has been in Wayne’s absence, you gotta be very optimistic for when he comes home.
Can you image when Wayne comes out? He been gone, he ain’t get to see this shit, he only been hearing it. When Wayne comes home he lifts everybody’s spirits, he lifts everybody’s value, he lifts the brand, he lifts everything. Wayne is gonna be the biggest artist in music, not just in hip-hop; in music. It’s some Michael Jackson shit right here goin’ on right before our eyes.
That’s a wild comparison. What can we expect from Tha Carter IV? You know that’s the one everybody is waiting on.
He’s a beast; he went back to that raw rappin’. That nigga still be impressin’ me with his music. I say that to say that I be around him a lot so the shit he do and say shouldn’t be as impressive to me. I’m one of his biggest fans, I be geeked out on him. I watch him work, he’s just cold. It’s some magical shit to watch the young blood do what he do.
You signed Cory Gunz as well?
Yeah, he’s YMCMB, definitely.
You’ve had your eye on him for a minute. There were rumors that he would sign in 2008 when he jumped on “A Milli.”
Yeah, him and Wayne been cool and he was in a little situation that he finally got untangled. We’re glad to have him a part of our family because I know that little boy, he gonna be somethin’ special.
For a minute it seemed like his career stalled out. It’s good now that he’ll have a chance to put out music. The one thing about Cash Money is that you guys create and put out music.
That’s my whole thing. Everything’s a 911. Life’s a 911. Our thing is we believe in givin’ every one of them a firm opportunity. I can’t buy the music, but I’ll put you in a great muthafuckin’ spot for people to buy your music. I love the challenge of being able to market them, watch them do what they do, help ‘em do what they do, show ’em how to do what they need to do. Really if they’re creative, that’s enough and then we’re just there supportin’ ‘em.
Yeah, I’ma be in the building, bruh. I’m a chess player; I’m a check mater. I think it out nowadays. Wayne and ‘em are real rappers. All them little niggas can rap their ass off. I don’t try to do that. I just do me. At this point in my life with this shit, I just wanna have as much fun as possible. When my son come home, for me, I’m the happiest man that can ever be alive. I enjoy watching him and just getting in where I fit in. I ain’t trippin’ off this shit, but I’m trippin’ off this shit. Ya feel me? —Rob Markman