Bryan Christopher Williams, better known as Birdman the Co-founder of Cash Money Records is probably one of the most enigmatic and controversial public moguls of the last 20 years. Birdman and his brother Ronald “Slim” Williams founded Cash Money in 1991 and in turn impacted the industry forever over the course of a dominating 20 year reign that produced one of the biggest rap groups of all time and three of the biggest artists in the industry today. In many ways, it is hard to believe that Birdman has been at the helm of a label that has helped launch the careers of many influential and successful artists including The Big Tymers, Lil Wayne, Drake, Nicki Minaj, Tyga, Young Thug, Rich Homie Quan and more given the incredibly meager circumstances he started in.
Born in New Orleans, Louisiana on February 13th, 1969 Birdman hit it hard early on in life when his mother Ms. Gladys died when he was only two years old. Having spent the bulk of his developmental years in the Magnolia Projects of New Orleans 3rd Ward, Birdman resorted to selling drugs and burglaries to provide from himself in the notoriously dangerous and crime ridden neighborhood. His criminal rapsheet began when he was 16-years-old when he was arrested for drug possession and by the time he was 18 he was arrested again for the same crime and was sentenced to three years in Elayn Hunt Correction Center where he spent 22 months before being acquitted of all charges.
However he quickly turned things around upon his release and joined forces with former Cash Money in-house Producer Mannie Fresh to form the infamous rap duo Big Tymers. After releasing several commercially successful albums featuring classic hits like “Still Fly” the duo dissolved and Birdman, who was then known as Baby, changed his stage name and began focusing on building the Cash Money imprint and developing artists like Lil Wayne and The Hot Boys. Now nearly 30 years later the label is considered one of the most influential and successful imprints out there and at one point boasted a roster of artists that achieved 12 No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 and is estimated to be worth over $300 Million dollars. What’s even more impressive is the fact that Birdman has managed to maintain a decent solo career throughout his entire journey building Cash Money over the years. Given all of the turmoil between Lil Wayne and Birdman, there is a shroud of mystery and alleged betrayal surrounding Stunna and Cash Money these days, but hate him or love hime, you have to give him his credit where his credit is do. Thus, here are 10 of Birdman’s most essential tracks.
“Still Fly” Feat. Mannie Fresh (Big Tymers)
Even though this is technically a Big Tymers song, it is still the single most important song Birdman, formerly know as Baby, has ever been apart of. This record comes from the duo’s wildly 2002 album Hood Rich which peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 200 and housed “Still Fly” which also charted on the Billboard Hot 100 reaching No. 11. This was the hit that set Baby up to become Birdman. With the success of this project and particularly this single, Stunna was able to leverage his status and capital to make the major moves needed to take Cash Money to the next level.
“Still Fly” is also as much a relic of time and a milestone in the industry as it is a major accomplishment for Cash Money. This record is blatantly evocative of the advanced and volatile sound coming from New Orleans and foreshadowed the up and coming reign of The Hot Boys and Birdman’s prodigy Lil Wayne. 15 years later this song is still fly as the day it dropped.
“Pop Bottles” Feat Lil Wayne
A huge chunk of the success that Birdman has experienced throughout his solo career is without a doubt due to the spectacular assistance and support Lil Wayne provided. The two really made an exceptional pair and have gifted us with a handful of gems over the years and “Pop Bottles” is a prime example of the chemistry and immense energy Stunna and Wayne brought to every hit record they cut.
Originally released in 2007 the record peaked at No. 6 on the U.S. Rap charts and has been certified platinum by the RIAA. “Pop Bottles” was an absolute anthem and is certainly up there with the all time favorite Birdman and Weezy collaborations including “Leather So Soft” and “Stunting Like My Daddy.”
“I Run This” Feat. Lil Wayne
Yet another colossal collaboration between Birdman and Lil Wayne “I Run This” is as essential as it gets when it comes to classic Cash Money records. So long as one lets Lil Wayne handle the hook and gives Birdman a 16 to spit game, one will have a hit on their hands because that is precisely the dynamic on this late 2000s banger.
This record and the previous both appeared on Birdman’s 4th studio album 5 * Stunna back in 2008. Peep the lavish lifestyle flex the Cash Money rapper’s were boasting back then complete with wall to wall women and drop top Maseratis.
“Loyalty” Feat. Tyga & Lil Wayne
Given the estranged relationships between Birdman and Lil Wayne & Tyga it is kind of hard to believe the the trio had one of the biggest records of 2010 with “Loyalty.” Even though Tyga claims that Birdman and Cash Money owe him $12 Million and the situation between Birdman and Lil Wayne continues to become exponentially difficult to comprehend, it’s worth noting what these three are capable of when working together.
Even though this record is primarily popularized by the remix featuring none other than Lil Wayne himself, truth be told Birdman killed this track on his own before the added assist from Weezy. This record really came at a ver interesting time fro both Birdman and Cash Money, which was now also morphing into YMCMB the extension of Lil Wayne’s Young Money imprint under the label, because this was officially post Carter 3 Cash Money and America for tat matter and by this point, anything attached to either Birdman or Lil Wayne or Cash Money’s name turned to gold.
Which version of the record is your favorite?
“Y U Mad” Feat. Nicki Minaj & Lil Wayne
By 2011 Birdman had guided Cash Money to mega stardom and had helped diversify the artist roster of the label ten fold. The label had signed a signifcant number of artists including Kevin Rudolph, Jay Sean, DJ Khaled and the We The Best Music Group, production duo Cool & Dre, Nick Minaj, Bow Wow and more. In turn, Birdman now had a rotating carosel of elite artists to feature on his records.
However, though there were new faces, some things never changed, like Lil Wayne being a mainstay within his discography. “Y U Mad” is another non album single from Birdman that did insane numbers. In a way, this track signals a shift in the label’s focus from generational support to development of the new blood.
“Born Stunna” Feat. Rick Ross
It seems that Birdman has as many soured relationships as he does Lil Wayne features in his discography, which is a lot, because here is yet another case of a good thing gone bad concerning Birdman and Rick Ross’s relationship. The two longtime friends released “Burn Stunna” in 2012 just ahead of the release of their collaborative mixtape The H that was released in March of 2013. This track is fire and the majority of the tape was as well, however, somewhere in between then and now a rift has occurred between the two Rap Moguls and all that is left is remnants of the napalm like bond these two guys had. Per Rick Ross’ latest album, we know that idols can become rivals but is it so hard to believe that rivals could become friends aain? Becuase we need more Birdman and Rick Ross collabs ASAP.
The remix of this track with Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj is dumb fire too, peep both below.
As of late Birdman has been zero’d in on promoting and building the up and coming Rich Gang imprint he is apart of. Primarily the base of Rich Homie Quan, Young Thug and Birdman himself, Rich Gang is a new endeavor, if you will, for Stunna who profusely refuses to put down the microphone even into his later days as an experienced record label executive.
“Balla Blocking” is the testament to Birdman’s adapdability and ease of re-invention, and equally so this record slaps.
It is hard to believe that it has been nearly a year and a half since Birdman’s outrageous temper tantrum during a Breakfast Club interview that resulted in one of the weirdest and most funny viral moments of Internet history. Nonetheless, we are in the present and this song exists and like it or not, you kind of do have to put some respek on Baby’s name given his track record.
And if a 20 plus year career is enough of a reason to warrant said respek, one definitely has to respect the fact that Birdman turned a proverbial “L” into a commodity and cashed in on that shit. So again, put some respek on ole boy’s nam, I ain’t gon’ sy it no mo’.
“Wise Words” Feat. Jacquees
If there is one thing that is forsure it’s the fact that Birdman really does have an ear for new talent and has single handedly presented this generation with some of it’s iggest artists and continues to do so. “Wise Words” is a narrow winded nod to Birdman’s advanced taste making affinity and commitment to developing the next generation of artists.
Honorable Mention: “Bit Back” Birdman & Young Thug
Birdman and Young Thug’s relationship is interesting to say the least. Throughout all of the perceived beef between Lil Wayne and Thug over the Barter 6 project and Lil Wayne’s tour bus shooting, Birdman and Young Thug have managed to continue collaborating and releasing fire music together.
While we can’t compare Stunna and Thug as a duo to Birdman and Weezy, we can look into the future with a sense of optimism knowing that Birdman is working his wonderous magic with yet another of this generations superstars and even more so, knowing that Cash Money will continue to live on one way or another.