|Parent company Universal Music Group|
Country of origin United States
Parent organization Universal Music Group
|Distributor(s) Republic Records
(In the US)
Universal Music Group
Location New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S. Miami, Florida, U.S.
CEO Birdman (1991–), Ronald "Slim" Williams (1991–)
Founders Birdman, Ronald "Slim" Williams
Artists Lil Wayne, Drake, Birdman, Nicki Minaj, Tyga
Albums Like Father - Like Son, The Pinkprint, Views, Nothing Was the Same, Tha Carter IV
Cash Money Records is an American record label founded by two brothers, Bryan "Birdman" Williams and Ronald "Slim" Williams. The label is distributed by Republic Records, which used to be Universal Republic. The label itself has been home to a roster of prominent hip hop artists that include Drake, Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj, which has led Cash Money to being described as one of the most iconic and successful record labels in hip-hop history. Cash Money is estimated to be worth $300 million.
1991–99: Beginnings and deal with Universal Records
Cash Money Records was founded in 1991. Bryan Williams told some of his close friends the motivation for starting the label:
"I was hoping it would get us out of the projects and into a positive way of life. And we wanted to help other people get out of this poverty"
Along the way he met a lot of influential people on the road with the Hot Boys. Cash Money and Universal negotiated the deal between Cash Money and Universal Músic Group's Universal Records (now Republic Records), which became an 80%-20% distribution deal. Later, UMG acquired a portion of Cash Money Records, making it a UMG subsidiary.
For its first few years (1991–1994), Cash Money played host to a number of local releases by artists, selling only one album, without ever releasing a music video or having a Billboard hit. Some of the label's releases garnered some regional success in New Orleans, Louisiana, but the label was little known to the national rap scene. Artists on the label during this period included the group U.N.L.V. (Uptown Niggas Living Violently), Kilo G, Lil Slim, Pimp Daddy, and PxMxWx. In 1995, the label signed young rappers B.G., Turk and Lil Wayne. The signees marked what would be the second wave of Cash Money artists. Cash Money Records’ opening salvo was the release of Kilo G’s ‘The Sleepwalker.’ Rapper Kilo G was just 15 years old when his Cash Money debut arrived in 1992, and his album was sold out of the trunk of the Williams brothers’ car.
In 1997, B.G. and Lil Wayne formed the group the Hot Boys together with Juvenile (who had already been regionally successful before Cash Money). Although they made little impact outside of the region in the beginning, they became the label's most well-known artists.
Cash Money's big break came in 1998 when the Hot Boys, B.G. and Juvenile in particular, caught the attention of Universal Records executives. In 1998, Cash Money signed a $30 million pressing and distribution with $3 million advance contract with Universal, entitling the label to 85% of its royalties, 50% of its publishing revenues and ownership of all masters. Dino Delvaille, who orchestrated the deal, later told HitQuarters: "I made certain they retained 100% ownership of their work. They deserve it."
After the deal Cash Money records achieved a new level of success. The release of Juvenile's 1998 album 400 Degreez, which was certified 4X Platinum by the RIAA, solidified Cash Money as a powerful label in the national hip-hop scene. Later albums in 1999 such as the Hot Boys' Guerrilla Warfare, B.G.'s Chopper City in the Ghetto, and Lil Wayne's Tha Block Is Hot also saw great chart success and furthered the label's reputation. These albums contained major Billboard hits such as Juvenile's "Back That Azz Up" (#19 on the Billboard Hot 100), B.G.'s "Bling Bling" (#36), and the Hot Boys' "I Need a Hot Girl" (#65). All of Cash Money's albums and singles in this period were solely produced by the label's in-house producer, Mannie Fresh. Their A&R at Universal, Dino Delvaille, said:
"When they first came into the business, they were very reluctant to make records with other people. They probably felt that people would steal their style or flavor, and I had to work hard to get them to open up to making records with Cam’ron, Puffy, and Clipse, among others."
2000–12: Continued success and various signings
This label's success continued into the 2000s. Between 2001 and 2003, the label sold 7 million albums. The song "Still Fly" by the Big Tymers was nominated for two Grammy Awards. However, B.G. and Juvenile left the label in 2002, claiming financial mismanagement. In April 2003, Juvenile returned to the label for a reported $4 million deal, and in return, he signed over the rights to Juve The Great, an album which sold over a million copies and contained the Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hit "Slow Motion". In 2007, former Hot Boys member Lil Wayne was named president of Cash Money Records and CEO of Young Money Entertainment. Later that year, Lil Wayne stepped down as president to focus on his career, especially Tha Carter III. In 2008, Lil Wayne re-signed with Cash Money, ensuring that his next few albums will be produced by the label.
In September 2008, Cash Money released rocker Kevin Rudolf's smash-hit debut single "Let It Rock" featuring label-mate Lil Wayne. On October 15, 2008 at the MOBO Awards, British R&B singer Jay Sean announced that he had signed with Cash Money Records. In February 2009, the Williams brothers were featured in CNBC's Newbos: The Rise of America's New Black Overclass, a documentary show profiling several black multi-millionaires. In early 2009 former Roc-A-Fella Records artist Freeway signed with the label. On August 16, 2009, Bow Wow announced that he signed with Cash Money Records.
In 2009, they took part in a major label bidding war for Queens native rapper Nicki Minaj. Eventually, they won the bidding war and Nicki Minaj was signed to them exclusively for Young Money. Shine had vision for a super group. Cash Money Records popularity grew after signing Minaj and Canadian rapper Drake. On August 5, 2010, production group Cool & Dre signed with Cash Money Records. The production group announced the news via Twitter. They are the first in house producer Cash Money has had since Mannie Fresh.
On August 19, 2010, Birdman signed DJ Khaled to the label also signing his label We the Best Music Group as a subsidiary of Cash Money. On February 24, 2012, Cash Money Records signed the nu metal band Limp Bizkit. Wayne said the same day they were close to signing Ashanti.
In 2011, Cash Money Records signed a co-publishing venture with the Atria Publishing Group called Cash Money Content.
2013–present: Rich Gang and dissension
In February 2013, Birdman released a compilation mixtape with Cash Money and Young Money, entitled Rich Gang: All Stars. Shortly afterwards, he announced a compilation album entitled Rich Gang: Flashy Lifestyle that was due to be released on May 21, 2013—it featured members of Cash Money, Young Money, and various collaborators. The first single from the project, "Tapout" was released on March 19, 2013, and features Lil Wayne, Future, Mack Maine, and Nicki Minaj, with production by 808 Mafia's Southside and TM88. "Fly Rich" featuring Stevie J, Future, Tyga, Meek Mill and Mystikal was also released as a promotional single.
The album's release date was then pushed back to July 23, 2013, while the title was also shortened to just Rich Gang. The album garnered a mixed critical reception and debuted at number 7 on the Billboard 200. On October 12, 2013, Birdman announced that he had signed West Coast gangsta rapper The Game, to Cash Money, in addition to several unnamed New York rappers. On December 11, 2013 The Game would then later clarify that he was not officially signed to Cash Money Records.
On December 4, 2014, just five days before Tha Carter V was due to be released, Wayne issued a statement saying the album would not be released on its expected release date due to his displeasure with Birdman refusing to release the album, although it had been completed. Wayne also expressed his feelings by stating he felt he and his creative partner were being held "prisoner". Lil Wayne filed a lawsuit. On January 20, 2015, Wayne self-released Sorry 4 the Wait 2, a sequel to his 2011 mixtape, to compensate for the continued delay of Tha Carter V. Upon Sorry for the Wait 2's release, it was noted that Wayne disses Birdman and Cash Money Records several times throughout. Birdman was reported to be upset with this. In late January 2015, Lil Wayne filed a $51 million lawsuit against Birdman and Cash Money Records over the delay of Tha Carter V.
In January 2015, Wayne stated that when he leaves Cash Money, he is taking Drake and Nicki Minaj with him. On June 22, TMZ reported new details on the lawsuit. According to documents filed by Lil Wayne, Birdman and Cash Money have mismanaged Young Money, including Drake and Minaj. The documents allege that Birdman and Cash Money haven't paid people. Free C5 became the mantra to get money to the unpaid artist. In June 2015, Wayne joined Jay-Z's Tidal as an artist owner and exclusively released a single on the service titled "Glory." On July 4, 2015, Wayne released Free Weezy Album exclusively through Tidal under Young Money and Republic Records. On July 15, prosecutors allege Birdman and Young Thug conspired to murder Lil Wayne and were involved in the April 26 shooting. On July 16, Birdman filed a $50 million lawsuit against Jay Z's Tidal streaming service over Lil Wayne's Free Weezy Album. The lawsuit claims that Cash Money Records exclusively owns the rights to Lil Wayne's music, although he is now independent and the label no longer owns these rights.
From its founding until 2005, Mannie Fresh was the well-known production head of all Cash Money releases, as the label's resident producer. The label would be without a proper in-house producer until August 2010, when production duo Cool & Dre signed to the label. Since the, the label has grown its production division by signing more producers.
In October 2009, Cash Money Records, Birdman, Lil Wayne and various music distribution outlets were sued for copyright infringement by Thomas Marasciullo, who claims his voice was used without permission. The rappers asked him to record some "Italian-styled spoken word recordings" in 2006. The lyrics were allegedly used on "Respect" and other tracks from the rappers' collaboration album Like Father, Like Son and Birdman's 5 * Stunna.
In 2011, Cash Money Records, Lil Wayne, Universal Music Group, and Young Money Entertainment were sued for US$15 million by Done Deal Enterprises, who claim Lil Wayne's song "BedRock" was stolen from Done Deal.