Birdman
Pricele$$
Cash Money/Universal

Beats: XL
Lyrics: L
Originality: M

Birdman has certainly paid the cost to be the boss. After spending the last two decades at the helm of Cash Money Records, his fourth solo album, Pricele$$, showcases the lucrative fruits of his labor. Featuring a slew guest appearances, Birdman spends much of the disc giving himself a well-deserved pat on the back, while his new Cash Money army gets their shine on.

Birdman stacks the deck on the album’s catchy lead single, “Money To Blow,” with the winning combination of Lil Wayne and Cash Money/Young Money upstart Drake. Then, with dynamic duo on board (again) for the bouncing “4 My Town (Play Ball),” the trio balls like they won the championship.

However at times, Birdman manages to crash his own party. From the rock-influenced title track to the predictable T-Pain-assisted “Shinin’,” his lyrics often lean on the same formula the-artist-formerly-known-as-Baby has been using for years now: I was poor… Now I’m rich… Let’s pop bottles! Wash. Rinse. And repeat.

Still, there’s enough here to keep the celebration going. Just check the thumping Boi-1da-produced “Mo Milly,” featuring Bun B, where Birdman boldly raps, “Black, gold, hundred mil’ off the floor/Now you know how it go.” In the middle of a recession that’s got most of the country—and Birdman’s hometown of New Orleans—strapped for cash, Pricele$$ plays out like one long champagne-drenched celebration for the #1 Stunna. —Chris Yuscavage