Birdman to Rappers: Stay Out of Jail
With Lil Wayne's recent prison release from Rikers Island, speculation surrounding a new album from the Young Money superstar has become an omnipresent subject amongst music bloggers and entertainment outlets. Indeed, Wayne's long-in-the-making 'Carter IV' project, tentatively due out next February, is poised to be one of next year's most heralded releases. Yet, Cash Money CEO Bryan "Birdman" Williams, who has overseen a string of high profile releases including Drake's platinum chart-topping debut 'Thank Me Later' and this November's much-talked-about Nicki Minaj freshmen effort 'Pink Friday,' believes journalists and fans should be more interested in Wayne's personal growth than his next musical turn.
"When Wayne was away I would talk to him a lot," says the thriving music vet. "Everything I told him, he soaked it up. Now he's doing it. It's about us being smart now and not making the same mistakes we made in the past. It's about taking this journey to reach other goals."
Birdman says that it's imperative now more than ever that the rap community stays on a positive, productive path. He points to the recent legal woes of friends T.I. and Gucci Mane as a teachable moment. "I talk to T.I. a lot," he says of the Atlanta superstar rapper, who is currently serving 11 months in an Arkansas prison for probation violation. "That's my little partner. We are just praying for him, taking it one day at a time. He has to do his time and come back better than ever."
"That goes for Gucci Mane as well, who has been going through some things," Birdman continues. "Our chess game now has to be to stay out of the law's way. We have to stay away from the police. We have to be smart about what we are doing and about the decisions we make. We all make mistakes. I did jail time in my life, but that's enough of that s---. I think we have to change that s---. All going to prison does is hurt us; it doesn't help us at all. We just have to be smart as a team and make the right decisions."
As for the future of Cash Money/Young Money, Birdman is optimistic. He says fans can expect a lot of noise from the imprint beyond Weezy, Drake and Minaj. There's a Young Money/Cash Money tour set for February, which will feature the entire roster. And new albums by DJ Khaled, Tyga, U.K. vocalist Jay Sean, Lil Twist and the newly signed Bow Wow are set to hit stores next year.
"I feel like we have a long way to go," Birdman adds. "As a label we have been doing this music thing a long time. That's why we are still at it hard body like that. I'm trying to put my whole energy into our team. I can get a hit record from Wayne, Drake, Nicki, Tyga ... anyone of them. So when you see me dropping my own albums, that's cool. I do music because I love it. But that's not what my mission is about. My mission is all about our artists."