Cash Money don Birdman was recently hit with a $200,000 lawsuit by producer DVLP, who claims he was never paid for his work on Lil Wayne's music and music by other Cash Money artists. Despite assurances of "I'm getting yu paid" and "I'm working with yu fam," Birdman never delivered the goods.
It's a familiar story that has repeated itself on end since Birdman founded Cash Money Records with his brother in 1991. Birdman doesn't people pay what he owes, and with an estimated net worth of $170 million, he isn't afraid to lawyer up and duke it out in court.
The early years
Early Cash Money stalwart Lil Slim, who introduced a young Lil Wayne to Birdman, left the label after releasing his 1995 project Thuggin and Pluggin, believing he wasn't getting his fair share of album sales. Within a couple years the entire first generation of Cash Money artists had deserted the label, citing reasons similar to Slim's.
With her non-profit Rap Coalition, Wendy Day dedicated her career to helping rappers get better deals and shifting the balance of power from labels to artists. She helped broker the deal between Master P's No Limit Records and Priority Records, and in 1998 she helped Birdman negotiate Cash Money's $30 million distribution contract with Universal. When she attempted to collect the standard 5% finder's fee, he allegedly told her, “sue me, when I have to pay you, you’ll get paid."
All four of the Hot Boys
Juvenile left Cash Money in 2001 after releasing Project English. "My reason [to leave Cash Money] is the same reason most artists leave their label—money," he said. When they refused his $4 million out of court settlement, he lawyered up and ended up taking home $11 million. He would return to Cash Money in 2003, just in time to make Juvie the Great and hit single "Slow Motion."
B.G. signed with Cash Money in 1992 at the tender age of 12. He claims he never received royalty checks for albums released before 1998. They "fucked me over," he said in 2002. He left the label soon after Juvenile and subsequently dropped 35-track double album Livin' Legend on his new label Chopper City Records.
Lil Wayne is currently attempting to liberate himself from Cash Money's grip with a $51 million lawsuit, in which he accuses Birdman and company of neglecting to register Wayne's name on copyrights, failing to make escrow payments, not making due on a promised $10 million advance, and countless other grievances. The lawsuit has yet to go to court.
As Cash Money's in-house producer, Mannie Fresh was the hidden cog that kept the machine firing on all cylinders for years, pumping out bangers like "Bling Bling" & "Back That Ass Up." He left the label in 2005 and took Birdman to court for financial mismanagement. "I left Cash Money because of money, scratch, moolah," he said.
One of Mannie's last hits before he left was Lil Wayne's "Go DJ" off Tha Carter, which borrowed the chorus from a 1994 track by former Cash Money rap group U.N.L.V., also called "Go D.J." In 2006, U.N.L.V. sued Cash Money for not properly attributing or paying them for the appropriation of their version of the track, as well as for unpaid royalties from 6th and Baronne and Uptown 4 Life, which were released on CM in the mid-'90s.
Tha Carter III producers
Jim Jonson & Deezle
The Dallas-based production team sued Lil Wayne & Cash Money for $1 million, claiming they were never paid for their production on "Got Money" feat. T-Pain.
Bangladesh sued Cash Money and Lil Wayne in 2008 for an estimated $500,000 in unpaid royalty checks for his production on TC III hit "A Milli."
"Cash Money don’t pay royalties," he said. "You have to sue these guys so that they pay up.. it's [Wayne and Baby's] responsibility to pay [me] because all the money from album sales goes to Cash Money. I get checks from Sony for Beyonce, checks from different labels for different artists, it just comes to you. You don’t have to call them, sue them and all that junk. This is what you're owed."
He later had trouble getting paid for his work on "6 Foot 7 Foot."