Last night, Birdman held a private listening session at NYC’s Quad Recordings for selected media outlets in preparation for another Rich Gang album dropping on Nov. 24. While Rich Homie Quan and Young Thug were absent, the YMCMB CEO entertained his guests by previewing about seven records from the LP that predominantly features rising stars Thugger and Quan. In between songs, Stunna also previewed videos for “Flava” and “Milk Marie" off Rich Gang: Tha Tour Pt. 1, which come from the stash of 15 more they’ve already shot.

Despite this latest release from the label, YMCMB’s flagship artists have drawn a lot of attention from the media in recent weeks. Lil Wayne announced that his long-awaited Tha Carter V is pushed back indefinitely, Nicki Minaj moved her date for The Pinkprint back to Dec. 15 and Tyga took some surprising shots at his labelmates and complained about his management on Twitter.

Among these developments, Baby remains cool and confident that everything will work itself out. Seated in a room next to the main studio, Birdman gave XXL his opinion on the hot issues fans want to know, from aligning himself with 2014 XXL Freshman Rich Homie Quan and Young Thug, Thug’s particular clothing tendencies, why they’ve recorded so many songs (about 800) together, Juvenile’s new album on Cash Money Records, his response to Tyga’s outburst and what’s in store for YMCMB in 2015. —Interview by Vanessa Satten and Eric Diep 

XXL: What’s up with Rich Homie Quan and Young Thug? Why do you believe in them so much?
Birdman: I’ve been met Quan and Quan was in a situation where he felt like he just wanted to build himself up stronger before he fucked with me. Really, he followed me. But, when I met Thug...

It’s been a minute since you linked up with them.
I met Quan two, three years ago. When I met Thug like a year ago, Thug was [like], “I’m with it, let’s do it.” Thug brought Quan and then I just felt like it would be better for us to be together. Because I felt like both of them make great music separate, and I thought if they do it together... Because they was about to do a mixtape together, and I was like, “Let’s just...fuck a mixtape. Let’s throw down. Don’t worry about a mixtape, let’s do an album together." And then when I started working with them and seeing what they had. When I first heard Thug, I just heard some other shit with him. My whole potential was let me build them up and put them with Wayne, Drake and Nicki.

It’s interesting because they both have big buzzes, but they’ve been relevantly quiet. Not really, really quiet, but still, particularly Quan just went out of the picture. But you know he’s got hits and you can hear them here right now. So it’s interesting to watch you now...
See, what I hear, y’all don’t hear this. People only hear what they heard. If I didn’t put the mixtape [out], they never heard that much of them. I feel like to build them, I have to let people see the potentials they really have because I don’t think people know what they have. I’m in the backfield and I hear this. If you don’t hear it, you won’t know what I feel.

It’s been about 20 years for you. How did you get excited by this? You seem excited and rejuvenated. Is that true? You look excited about your artists in a different way than Drake and Nicki.
Wayne, Drake, Nicki and them, they are on cruise control. There’s pretty much nothing I can say to them. Wayne is one of the most talented artists in the world. What can I say to him? Drake is one of the most talented artists in the world. What can I say to him? Except just put my input. And Nicki the same way. They one of the most talented artists in the world. I’m not just talking about hip-hop—in the world.

What does that say about you?
Seeing that they can be that. That was great. But there’s not too much I can say to them. But with these youngsters, I can grow them. They got so much to grow to be them. So when I see them, I like the challenge of doing that because I did that with them. I saw this in Nicki before she became Barbie and Nicki.

You saw that in Juve before he became Juvenile.
I saw all that. I mean, if you want to go back that far to the game. I’m legendary with it, it ain’t no secret. But I think what I see in Thug and Rich Homie Quan is that same potential I see in them. And us as youngsters, we was legends before we knew we was legends. When I look at them, just like I looked at us, we was legends without knowing we was legends. I just think I want to bring an expertise to them. They don’t go through all the ups and downs that we went through before we realized what we was.

Why not? Don’t you learn from those things?
I would rather have them take advantage of it than to experience [it] and just learn from it. I'd rather have them benefit from it than just go through it and don’t benefit from it. See we just went through it, not knowing. Just being young and wild. Ain’t nobody told us.

It was uncharted territory back then, especially from the South where you're from.
Yeah, but it’s different now. I mentored these two. These two here—Thug and Quan—just like I did Wayne. You understand me? Wayne did it to Drake and Nicki. I’m mentoring them. They good and bad gonna be on my face so I’m taking my everything and putting it into them. As far as their labels and everything. Them as talent. I’m putting them on my face.