Real Talk: Birdman Talks Cash Money Legacy
"It was just like a vision, a dream; something we thought we could make come to reality because we knew we had the talent. At least that's where my heart lied ...that's where my feeling was that we could take something, and make it into something," Birdman tells AOL Music of Cash Money Records' humble beginnings.
"I used to make them all just come into the studio every day," he continues. "We were doing the independent thing; I had other acts before them. And I just formed a group called the Hot Boys. They were so young they couldn't even go in clubs. We used to sneak them in with us ... one thing led to another."
It's been more than 16 years since Birdman -- a.k.a. Bryan "Baby" Williams -- teamed up with his brother Ronald to create the record label, which was once home to the Hot Boys, which included former rap stars Juvenile and B.G. Now the label is held together by Williams and Lil Wayne, who's been called one of the hardest-working emcees in the game. And, according to Birdman, the label has survived because it's been able to thrive as a business while they treat one another like family. But with every family there's family drama, and the departure of Juvenile and B.G. changed the dynamic -- and the lineup -- of Cash Money.
"You have to know how to shuffle these cards," Birdman explains. "And I'm kind of glad it went like that ... maybe they needed to experience that. That real world; when you're jumping out of rock and jumping in your own boat, you got to see if that motherf---er can survive, and I think they see what it weigh now, for real. You don't hear or see them and they're going through their ups and downs ... [which is] the nature of the business, but with a family, I think they would have survived better, because we all rolled off each other."
Birdman's philosophy seems to have worked. The record exec/rapper developed a bond with Wayne that is seemingly unbreakable, and years later the young rapper is the only original Hot Boy left standing.
"Honestly, I had that kind of relationship with all of them," Birdman says. "But Wayne's like my child. He lost his dad when he was really young and I became indebted to him." In addition to raising Wayne and catapulting his career, the 38-year-old still stays atop the game, pushing out raw records.
Although Wayne has been the most commercially successful Cash Money artist -- since the departure of Juvenile -- Birdman continues to churn out records. His most recent release, '5 Star Stunna,' debuted at No. 18 on the Billboard charts. "[It's] probably the best work I ever did, as a whole," Birdman admits. "This one here is strictly about me."