Most hip-hop imprints, in fact almost every large music label lose signees on a regular basis. Since 1991 Cash Money Records have been one of the most influential, prominent and popular labels in the game. They have produced artists of worldwide recognition and have sold millions of records. Although it is undeniable how important the group has been to Southern rap and hip-hop in general, they have been infamous for scanty business, the loss of artists and even anti-competitive practices. CEO’s Bryan “Birdman” Williams and Ronald “Slim” Williams have been accused of just about everything in the book when it comes to holding back their artists. The best way to examine this is through the artists who were previously signed to Cash Money and the stories on their split from the company.
Starlito [FKA All $tar Cashville Prince]
Starlito was signed to Cash Money for a short period of time during which he released several mixtapes. While signed he worked on putting out his studio album ‘Streetball.’ Cash Money would not release the tape. He left and never put out the record. When asked about his time with the company he said “They’re cons just like they’re pros.”
The legend was signed to the label for three years before leaving last year (2013). While signed he was working on putting out his E.LE. (Extinction Level Event) 2 album. The sequel to one of his most famous elder tapes, one that was very important to him. The album had an official release date for July 4th, 2014. After an unspoken pushback, the tape has still not come out and he left the record label. When he was asked about his reasons for leaving he said “So if I feel like if, in the slightest way, we ain’t facilitating everything necessary for the vision to be seen through and executed in the way that i’ve been envisioning this shit for the last five years, let me live and die in my own inequity.”
B.G. was practically the face of Cash Money during its younger years. He was a member of the legendary Hot Boys in the 90’s. He was signed to the label in 1992 and did not leave for eight years. He reports his departure from the company was due to Birdman’s attempt in “brainwashing” him and disputing finances he was apparently owed.
Half of the once incredibly popular Big Tymers with Birdman, Mannie Fresh was also synonymous with Cash Money decades ago. After over ten years signed to the label he left over money issues. To this day he occasionally still speaks to hip-hop outlets about the retribution and royalties he has not been paid.
Bow Wow was signed to Cash Money for six years before his recent departure. Although his leaving was done in a very respectful way without bashing the company, he still came clean on the issues he had. Before returning to his OG’s Snoop Dogg and Jermaine Dupri he said “I wanna dictate when my music comes out. I’m tired of going in the studio and making records, and then, you know, I Listen to them. Then they get old… They just gotta be heard, I feel like it’s unfair. And I just can’t be held up by nobody.”
Although his time at Cash Money was very short, his career has flourished a great amount since parting ways. He was one of the other polite emcees but made it clear Cash Money wasn’t giving him what he needed. He was quoted saying “I just have something with me not being done right.”
The British singer was signed to Cash Money for six years putting out three relatively popular studio albums. His issue with the company was clearly being forced to make certain types of records. He said “It got to the point where I was chasing pop success and ‘the smash’ when really my heart wasn’t in it anymore. That’s not why I got into this game.”
Only signed to Cash Money from 06’ to 08’ Keke Wyatt put out little to no music under the imprint. She was clearly another artist being held back to put out work. She signed to the small TVT Records after her break up with Cash Money and was happy with her decision saying “It feels good to finally find a home at TVT Records. They really support my vision and will allow me to develop my own sound” (as opposed to Cash Money).
Southern rapper Mystikal actually started his career beefing with Cash Money artists and ironically signed with the label in 2011 after a dry period musically. Only a few years after he was very vocal about not being able to put out an album and having to leave the group. Right before jumping ship he said “I’m getting off the situation that I’m in now. It didn’t work out. They was going a different route with the music they’re doing. I understand, cause their machine is primed and oiled and running. I’m a page-turner. I was gonna turn that page, for real, shake it up a little bit. I think they want to keep where they are, because it works for them.”
Before his return into the limelight Omarion was briefly signed to Cash Money. He left as a gentleman but still displayed, like most others, symptoms of restrainment to his artistry. After dipping from the conglomerate he said “I asked to be released from the label to pursue other opportunities that were recently presented to me.”
One of the OG’s that helped turn Cash Money from grassroots to prime time, rapper Turk, has definitely made his issues with the record company clear. The only thing that is not so clear is the timing. He was a part of the Hot Boys in the 90’s, went to prison in 2004 and put out music with Lil Wayne upon release in 2012. No longer an official member of the imprint, only a few months ago, he sued and reached a settlement with Cash Money for unpaid royalties. The deal went all the way back to issues dealing with music from 2001 and was handled outside of court.
Although he gained popularity after joining Cash Money, after some time Tyga was obviously unhappy with the way business got handled. With some simple and quickly to the point words, he strongly expressed what most of the label’s former artist might have felt… Speaking about his most recent and independently released album ‘The Gold Album’ 18th Dynasty’ he said “My label holding me hostage so I can’t release nothing. Might just leak it for my fans then let them make $ off it.”
Even when it comes to an emcee remembered for his time with Cash Money, he is another artist willing to bring things to court. Dissatisfied with his earning for his early work that brought the company to the surface he sued the imprint for 51 million dollars last year, without an outcome yet, he has said “Lawyers gon’ do they thing, we gon’ do our thing.”
It is safe to say the most popular topic in the hip-hop world this year has been Lil Wayne’s beef with his ‘father figure’, mentor and Cash Money’s CEO Birdman. Wayne has brought claims to court and has done plenty of talking outside of the law as well. He says he has not been paid royalties from years of work, adding up to a large sum. He also has spoken out about the lack of freedom and the inability to put out the music he wants on his watch. “To all my fans, I want u to know that my album won’t and hasn’t been released bekuz Baby & Cash Money Rec. refuse to release it. I want off this label and nothing to do with these people but unfortunately it ain’t that easy. I am a prisoner and so is my creativity Again,I am truly sorry and I don’t blame ya if ya fed up with waiting 4 me & this album. But thk u.”