On our June 2011 cover, we wonder if Cash Money Records co-founder Bryan “Baby” Williams is hip-hop’s last mogul. It’s impressive enough that the New Orleans legend built an empire in his native N.O. back before being from the Dirty South was cool, but Cash Money’s longevity (Baby and brother Ronald “Slim” Williams founded the label in 1992) in an ever-evolving game is what really demands respect. Since breaking nationally in 1998, when Universal signed the label to a $30 distribution deal based on the buzz surrounding the Hot Boys, the label has gone through a number of transformations. U.N.L.V and Lil Slim became Juvenille and B.G., who became Drake and Nicki Minaj. And no dynasty is complete without a franchise player (we see you, Weezy). Here, we run down the entire Cash Money Army Navy over the span of label’s history.
Kilo G’s 1992 album Sleepwalker was the first release ever on Cash Money records. Considered a pioneer of horrorcore hip-hop, Kilo’s second album Bloody City was the first time we heard Mannie Fresh production.
Members Big Man, Big Heavy and Black Jacko-O were one of the first acts to sign with Cash Money. Releasing two albums on the label (1993’s Pass The Weed, 1994’s High Life, they enjoyed regional success in their native New Orleans and, like many early Cash Money signees, were frequent collaborators with UGK’s Bun B.
Comprised of Tec-9, Yella Boy and Ya, U.N.L.V. was one of Cash Money’s first major acts and is credited with helping perfect the bounce sound that would later make the label so successful. They released four albums on the label from 1993-1996 before leaving Cash Money, but had their success stunted when Yella Boy was murdered in '96.
Credited with introducing Baby and Slim to Lil Wayne, Lil Slim signed with Cash Money in 1993. He worked early on with a young Mannie Fresh and released three albums on the label.
B. Gizzle joined Cash Money as part of the duo “The B.G.’z” alongside a young Lil Wayne. He and Wayne were later teamed up with Juvenile and Turk in 1997 to form Cash Money’s first nationally successful group, The Hot Boys. As both a solo artist and member of the Hot Boys, he was responsible for nine albums while on the label before leaving in 2003.
Weezy joined Cash Money at just nine years old and went on to become the label's most important piece. After bubbling as a member of the Hot Boys and seeing marginal solo success with his debut Tha Block Is Hot, the man who calls himself Birdman Jr. became one of rap's biggest artists thanks to the success of his Carter album series and a tireless work ethic responsible for countless mixtapes and guest verses. In 2005, he founded his own Young Money Entertainment imprint under the Cash Money umbrella.
Cash Money’s first solo star, the former Hot Boy released four albums on Cash Money before leaving the label in 2002 because of contractual disputes. His hit “Back That Azz Up” (off of 1998’s 400 Degreez) is one of the labels biggest songs to date.
Cash Money’s supergroup, The Hot Boys were comprised of Juvenile, Turk, B.G. and Lil Wayne and are largely responsible for the $30 million distribution contract that the label signed with Universal in 1998. They released two albums while together on the label (1997’s Get it How You Live and 1999’s Guerilla Warfare) in addition to a third album (2003’s Let ‘Em Burn) after members Juvenile, B.G. and Turk had left the label.
Mannie Fresh has been holding down Cash Money production since the early days. A one man production team, Mannie crafted the most of the label's releases in their entirety during the crew's early run.
Given her name by the late Magnolia Slim, and discovered by Baby during Cash Money’s heyday in the '90s, Magnolia Shorty was featured on Juvenile’s “3rd Ward Solja” off of his 1997 album Solja Rags. In December of 2010, she was found murdered in a New Orleans housing project at 28 years old.
The rapper doubles as president of the Young Money Entertainment imprint.
TQ is best known for his hit “Westside” and numerous guest features in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Baby and Slim brought the crooner on with the intention of molding him into one R&B’s biggest names. Wires were crossed and he was never even able to release an album on the label, but we’re just grateful for his classic chorus on “Way of Life.”
Baby and Slim signed the Westside Connection rapper in 2001, a sign of things to come as the label continued to extend its reach to both coasts and internationally in later years. He released one album on the label, 2001’s Bang or Ball.
The soul music legend signed with Cash Money in 2002, raising many eyebrows in the music industry. She released two albums on the label (2004’s La Dona, 2006’s Sapphire). Best known for her work with Rick James, Marie tragically passed in December of 2010.
The “Superwoman” singer signed to Cash Money in the summer of 2004. She remained on the label until 2006, never releasing an album for Baby and Slim.
The Harlem battle rap legend signed to Lil Wayne’s Young Money Entertainment imprint in 2008. Millz has appeared as a guest on numerous Young Money collaborations but has yet to release an album on the label.
Another 2008 addition to the roster, Kevin Rudolf became Cash Money’s first rock that summer. He’s released two albums on in 2010.
Cash Money made waves in 2008 when they signed the British R&B artist Jay Sean, making clear their intentions to expand their sound. He’s released one album on the label so far (2009’s All or Nothing which included the massive hit “Down” featuring Lil Wayne).
Last August, the animated DJ joined Cash Money’s team. His debut for the label, We the Best Forever recently had its release date pushed back to summer 2011. He collaborated with his new label mates Drake and Lil Wayne to make the current smash “I’m On One.”
It was announced in 2010 that the Miami-based producers had signed on to be soldiers in Baby’s Army. Earlier this year, they signed a distribution deal with Interscope through Cash Money for their Epidemic Records label.
Lil Wayne signed the Florida native to his Young Money label in 2006 after impressive guest verses for Rick Ross and DJ Khaled. Though his debut for the label, Street Medicine has been under construction for a few years now, his most noteworthy verse have come alongside Wayne on his Dedication mixtape series.
After touring with the Young Money crew for over a year, Lil Twist signed with Lil Wayne’s Cash Money imprint in March of 2010.
An early member of Cash Money’s Young Money collective, the Compton rapper got the world’s attention when “Deuces,” a single off his Fan of a Fan mixtape with Chris Brown, took off. His second album, Careless World, for a 2011 release.
After numerous collaborations with Cash Money artists, the former So So Def star signed with Baby and Slim in 2009. His first album for the label, Underrated, is expected to drop in 2011.
After a historical bidding war behind the success of his classic mixtape So Far Gone, Drake inked with Young Money/Cash Money Universal in 2009. He released his debut platinum album, Thank Me Later, the following year.
Son of New York rap legend Peter Gunz and frequent scene-stealing feature rapper Corey Gunz officially signed under Cash Money’s Young Money Entertainment imprint in May of 2010.
An electro-pop artist from California, the Mexican-American singer is currently working on two albums for Cash Money— One in English and one in Spanish.
In 2009, Cash Money went across the pond to snag British singer/songwriter Sabrina Washington. The UK songstress released her debut single in the U.S. last year “OMG (Oh My Gosh)” and appeared on the reality show I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here.
Earlier this year, the former TLC singer confirmed that she had signed with Cash Money. We’re anxious to see what Tionne is able to cook up with the Cash Money flag behind her.
After being affiliated with Game's Black Wall Street Records for a few years, Glasses signed to Cash Money earlier this year.
Filed Under: B.G., Birdman, Bow Wow, Brisco, cash money, Cool & Dre, Cory Gunz, DJ Khaled, Drake, Glasses Malone, Hot Boys, Jae Millz, jay sean, Juvenile, Kevin Rudolph, Kilo G, Lil Slim, Lil Twist, Lil Wayne, Mack 10, Mack Maine, Magnolia Shorty, Mannie Fresh, Nicki Minaj, Project's Most Wanted, Sabrina Washington, Slim Williams, T-Boz, Teena Marie, tyga, U.N.L.V.