By Andre Jones
In an ongoing legal battle between Cash Money Records (CMR) founder and CEO, Birdman and multi-platinum artist Lil Wayne, a judge has ordered that Birdman open up Cash Money’s books in order to determine exactly what happened to the $100 Million dollar cash advance received from Universal Music Group (UMG) that was allegedly meant for them to share.
CMR was started in 1991 by Bryan Williams (aka “Birdman” or “Baby”) and his brother Ronald Williams (aka “Suga Slim”). It was named after a crew called “Cash Money Brothers” featured in the film New Jack City. Rappers Juvenile, The Hot Boys, Cash Money Millionaires, Lil Wayne, B.G., Big Tymers, and Birdman himself made up the roster. Juvenile and B.G.’s albums stood out among the pack, getting the attention of UMG, who offered CMR a $30 Million dollar distribution deal. The label went on to release many RIAA Platinum and Gold Certified CDS since that time.
Eventually, all of the original roster left with the exception of Lil Wayne and Birdman himself until 2009, when Hip Hop superstars Drake and Nicki Minaj came to the label, bringing with them RIAA Platinum Certified albums.
This current legal battle began when UMG signed a landmark distribution deal with CMR in 1998 which included $100 million worth of advances, which Birdman has admitted to spending 70% of. Though Birdman claims to have spent the money on royalty payments, Lil Wayne’s camp wants receipts. Wayne claims he is entitled to part of the spent $70 million, of which $60 million remains un-recouped according to court documents filed on behalf of Wayne against SoundExchange and UMG in March of 2016.
Birdman had already claimed to have turned over all the paperwork that CMR had regarding the advance, referring to over 20,000 pages of documents that Wayne’s lawyers dismissed as useless, further shining a glaring light on the shoddy bookkeeping allegedly practiced in the CMR camp. The judge overseeing the case has given Birdman’s defense team 30 days to come up with the proper financial records. There was no indication of what would occur if this didn’t happen.
It would seem that Wayne will be in court more than on stage. In addition to his lawsuit against UMG and SoundExchange, this is simply another salvo in an ongoing $51 million dollar lawsuit against
The concurrent lawsuit against UMG has been put on hold by a California federal district court this summer to allow the CMR lawsuit to proceed.