|Label:||Cash Money Records|
|Next Project:||5 Star Stunna|
|Twitter:||Birdman on Twitter|
Responsible for the lengthy careers of rappers B.G., Juvenile and Lil’ Wayne, Brian “Baby” Williams has been as important to Hip Hop as any label founder and producer the industry has seen over the past two decades.
After releasing “Like Father, Like Son” with Lil’ Wayne last fall and with the release of his third solo album “5 Star Stunna” this winter, Birdman has undoubtedly been busy as of late. His founding label, Cash Money Records, is also entering its last year of a $30 million deal they signed in 1998.
In the wake of his recent arrest for marijuana possession while on a promotional tour for his new album “5 Star Stunna,” Birdman joined DJBooth’s DJ “Z” inside the booth to discuss the gift and curse of being a Hip Hop celebrity, how he has easily spent close to $150 million dollars in his lifetime and what the differences are between the ’98 version of Cash Money Records and its current incarnation.
Listen to the Interview
Birdman Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s goin’ on ya’ll? It’s your boy “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth is a “#1 Stunna” who just released his brand new album, “5 Star Stunna.” Please welcome the Birdman!
Birdman: Yeah, what it is, homie.
DJ Booth: How you doin’?
Birdman: I’m good. Brighter than ever.
DJ Booth: Good. Gettin’ all the holiday shopping done?
Birdman: Ah, I’m good with that. I got this ghetto money and just sharin’ it with my children and lettin ‘em do what they do, you know?
DJ Booth: Definitely. The word “stunna” is used in the hip hop community to define someone as “the best.” Using the word to describe yourself, what is the personal definition for you?
Birdman: Just fly – super fly, all the time. It’s just being fly.
DJ Booth: So you’re always fly?
Birdman: That’s what it’s all about; it’s in your heart.
DJ Booth: Last week on a leg of your promo tour, you and a few members of your entourage were arrested for possession of marijuana. You said, and I quote, “People are making the situation out to be more than it is,” but when you’re a celebrity unfortunately that happens. Does your star status do you an injustice?
Birdman: It’s a gift and it’s a curse. I think, with that situation, they tried to use the celebrity status to make it more than what it was. It made it look to me like a whole bunch of guns, and pounds, and it wasn’t nothing like that. No guns, and a little weed. I had guns but it was legal – you know, I have a permit. I carry a gun but I keep my permit with my gun, and I know where you can carry and I know where you cannot carry. I know the laws.
DJ Booth: And where you were at, it was legal to have that gun…
Birdman: It was legal. The guns we has was legal. We never was charged with no guns, though.
DJ Booth: You said it’s a gift and a curse – do you find it to be more of a gift than a curse, or, when something like this happens, do you question it?
Birdman: When tragedy hits, it comes to become a curse – a hell of a curse – but besides that, it’s a blessing, being able to do this the way we do this, the type of money we make. When it’s a curse, it’s a curse. But that’s basically with anything; we just be a little more high-profile because of who we is.
DJ Booth: I can understand that. Do you feel this arrest will have a negative impact on the future promotion and your overall record sales for “5 Star Stunna?”
Birdman: No, I don’t think so, ‘cause everybody knows that we’re targets, and everybody can see that hip hop, what we go through, but I don’t think so.
DJ Booth: Let’s move on. Star-studded single, “100 Million,” blowing up across the country – have you realistically spent 100 million dollars in your lifetime?
Birdman: I’ve probably spent more than that.
DJ Booth: More than that. So, how come it wasn’t 150 million? Just sounded better as 100 million?
Birdman: Yeah. And we tryin’ to grab a hold of another hundred. We’re just lookin’ at what we can do and what we can accomplish, and a hundred is just a number, that’s was our goal and our mission.
DJ Booth: What purchases did you make that added up to that total?
Birdman: Let’s see. From my jewelry to my cars and my house, to my family, to my business – little bit of everything. My house – ten million by itself. I got a condo in Miami right now which is five million. I got another one for my kids, about three million. Couple of million in cars, plus you know we like jewelry; I could prolly hands up show you a cool 75 [million].
DJ Booth: You mentioned, you have a home – ten million dollars – is that the most expensive purchase that you have made?
Birdman: My home, yes.
DJ Booth: There’s an expression, “Money can’t buy happiness.” Do you agree or disagree with that?
Birdman: You can be happy with money – it can’t buy you happiness, but you can buy shit that make you happy!
DJ Booth: Definitely. The industry is complaining that money has suddenly dried up. Artists seemingly are scaling back their production work, music videos, promotions, lifestyles – have you had to change your spending habits or performance expectations at all?
Birdman: Not with my music; I don’t believe in that. You gotta spend money to make money. You got labels do that to artists, but I’m not signed to a label; I’m a label myself. As far as with Wayne and my artists, I don’t believe in that. I believe you got to spend money to make the money; you just gotta spend it wisely. That’s always been my thing, is to spend it wisely regardless.
DJ Booth: You said you have to spend money to make money, so have there been any purchases that you’ve spent a lot of money on, that you thought would produce more money than they ended up producing?
Birdman: I think every time, when you make stretch investments, I think all my acts are like that. I got a lot of new acts, that we spendin’ money to make money off.
DJ Booth: Okay, some of those new acts are Currency, Brisco, any others?
Birdman: G Malone from the West Coast, Lil’ All-Star, T Lopez, Teena Marie, just about everybody.
DJ Booth: You mentioned you have a condo in Miami and that’s your home for now. Have the lifestyle and landscape of the city of Miami influenced your spending habits more or less than when you lived in New Orleans?
Birdman: Yes, very much.
DJ Booth: Bad influence or good influence?
Birdman: Great. I think anything I do is influenced – I ain’t gonna let no n*gga be no negative influence. I think any influence on me in my life is positive. Miami life is different from where I come from. I’m from New Orleans, it’s just gritty hard – Miami, it’s like wide open spaces, beautiful life, my condo on the beach, I stay in the Trump Tower. So it’s a big old difference in life – everything is beautiful, but it’s expensive as a motherf*cker right up the block. But if you want nice things, you gotta spend the money.
DJ Booth: Baby, after Hurricane Katrina ravaged Louisiana, a lot of members of the hip hop community spoke up about the importance of giving and charity. Some of them used their voices, others used their wallets. You saw firsthand exactly how everybody was able to help out. Was it enough, or is it not enough?
Birdman: It’s never enough! But I guess you can’t really make your life on what people do for you. If they do, it’s cool; if not, we still got to live that shit out. So it’s back to basics. We can’t look for a handout.
DJ Booth: Other than a connection through your family, do you go back to New Orleans often?
Birdman: All the time. It is my family, if it ain’ in my blood – my hood is my family, my n*ggas, my life. That’s what I live for: my family. When you say family you think of just my kids, my baby momma, my momma – it’s not like that. My family is my hood, where I come from; uptown, that’s my family. So when you speak of goin’ back to help motherf*ckers who don’t even carry your blood, it’s just your hood and your love.
DJ Booth: A way to make a lot of money is obviously to release good music, and Cash Money has a lot in store next year. Your new album, obviously, in stores, Wayne’s, “Carter III: The Leak,” is comin’ soon, and then the next year is gonna see his official release as well as the debuts of some of your artists: Brisco, Currency and others we spoke about. Compare and contrast the state of your record label now and back in 1998 – a ten-year difference.
Birdman: Difference is, we more mature, we older, we know why we do this sh*t, why we have to do this sh*t. Back then we was just doin’ sh*t, really didn’t have a sense of direction. We was young and we didn’t really give a f*ck about nothing, just excited that we got a break. But now we know the knowledge, we know what we tryin’ to do, we have more of a sense of direction, of what we want for our life, of what we want for our family, what we want for our kids, and what we want for our homies.
DJ Booth: Baby, are you happy with where things are at right now?
Birdman: I’m past happy, more than happy. I’m grateful, I’m blessed, I’m excited about where we’re goin’ and what we’re doin’. Our plan is to take over, really to do more than what everybody else doin’. I see the game as open for that. Really, we is a business – we doin’ a lot. Right now we’re the hip hop, we’re the sh*t. My son is very powerful, at what he do and we asked that we break him. The third eye is on us, and we gonna hold it down the way it go.
DJ Booth: Okay, last question. One of the songs on the new album, “5 Star Stunna,” is titled, “So Tired.” Wayne spits the line, “I’m so tired of bein’ on this grind.” You guys have been doing this for a long, long time. At any point, do you sit down and think, “I gotta give myself a break?”
Birdman: Nah, I don’t want a break. That’s my life – I don’t do nothing else besides this. If I didn’t have music, I probably wouldn’t even wanna live. That’s all I got; my music gets me through life. Every day I have to listen to that shit and be a part of it to even stay focused and get my mind off a lot of other things that happen in my life.
DJ Booth: Understandable, and I can’t imagine a music industry without yourself a part of it. I appreciate your time, and for you joinin’ me inside the DJ Booth. Birdman, give everybody a website, or your Myspace page, so they can find out more about your brand new album, “5 Start Stunna.”
Birdman: What it is – my website is birdmanstunna.com, check me out. You already know.
DJ Booth: All right, Baby, I appreciate your time. The best of luck, man.
Birdman: No doubt homie! All right, appreciate it.