Who would have thought after 22-years in the music industry, Cash Money co-founder Baby a.k.a. Birdman, would be on top of the game? Responsible for three of the rap world’s biggest artists–Lil Wayne, Drake and Nicki Minaj–Birdman is one of the hip-hop’s last true moguls. For XXL’s forthcoming June 2011 issue, the magazine spoke with the New Orleans native about his exclusive position in the rap industry as one of the last moguls standing and the secret to his longevity.
In a sit-down with editor-in-chief, Vanessa Satten, Baby reflected on the harsh nature of his profession. “When I look around, through my years and my time, you know, the game, it was a lot in the field, a lot of people doing it,” he says. “And I look around, and it’s like, where the **** did everybody go? I ain’t never understood that, but the game like that sometimes, that muthafucka’s gon’ keep ya or it’s gon’ leave ya. It’s all on you.”
Despite his current status as one of the only remaining powerhouses, there was a time when many considered Cash Money over. Following the departure of his first successful act–super group the Hot Boys with Wayne, Juvenile, B.G. and Turk–and before Weezy rose to the prominent position that he holds today at the top of the rap food chain–Cash
Money seemed to be losing its touch. But as Birdman tells XXL, the hip-hop heavyweight learned a lot of important life lessons and studies the greats in order to figure out the best way to sustain his position in the game.
Arguably the best decision Baby made, was empowering Lil Wayne with his own label, Young Money, in 2005, which Weezy used to sign stars like Drake and Nicki Minaj over the past couple of years. “Honestly, I gave him the floor,” Baby says of Weezy. “He wanted it. I been with him since he was seven years old, eight years old. I been in his life all of his life, and he was like, “Let me handle, it.” At the time, me as an artist, losing my sister and everything I was going through personally, I was just like, ‘Go ahead, I’ma just support what you gon’ do. You can handle it.’ And I took a step back. Probably was the smarted move I ever made in my life was to let him go ‘head.”