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The Flight of the Birdman

"I made too much money, I ain't made enough yet."

Stars in the entertainment industry usually prefer to stick to their art, leaving the business side of things to agents or managers. Birdman is one exception; he has had considerable success with both the microphones and the merchandise. In the industry, Birdman's kind of acumen is often described as the 'Midas touch'.

From Hatchling to Honcho

New artists in the music scene typically get discovered, establish a name for themselves in the industry and then - publicity and funds allowing - set up their own record label several years down the road. Birdman, then still known as Bryan "Baby" Williams, took the opposite route.

Along with his brother, he first established their own label - Cash Money Records - in 1991. The label met with moderate success, selling hundreds of thousands of albums from local and up-and-coming artists. Among the records released was his own first (and only independent) album, Need a Bag of Dope from 1993.

The year 1997 was good for Cash Money Records in many ways. It was in that year that Birdman formed the Big Tymers duo with fellow artist and beat maker, Mannie Fresh. Business also got a big boost when Universal wanted two of the artists then signed to them, and Cash Money got a $30-million deal in return.

Stories of Success

Cash Money's multi-million dollar deal with Universal proved to be the first success of many for Birdman. While the Big Tymers' first album How You Luv That made minor appearances on the charts, the sophomore effort in I Got That Work was wildly popular. That same album carried #1 Stunna and Get Your Roll On, two big hits for the rhyming pair.

Two years after I Got That's 2000 release, the third album Hood Rich was a regular at the top of the charts. Still Fly, one of the singles from Hood Rich, burned up the charts and earned the duo their very first Grammy nomination. That same year, Birdman also released a self-titled studio album that was received well by the public, putting him even more clearly on the map of rap.

Since then, Birdman has worked with a wide range of rap artists, from Bow Wow to Juvenile. Rap superstar Lil Wayne contributed heavily to Fast Money, Birdman's 2005 studio album. Birdman was to return the favor by giving a lot of input for Lil Wayne's 2008 Tha Carter III. The two also released a collaboration album, Like Father Like Son, which quickly gained certified Gold status.

Keep On Flying

Not everything was peaches and cream for Birdman, though. Even with all the successes in 2005, his Big Tymers partner Mannie Fresh left the pairing that year. The Cash Money machine kept churning, signing on such artists as Sean John and Jacob the Jeweler. Birdman himself began working on other projects, such as a shoe line with Lugz in Summer 2008. Mannie eventually teamed up again with Birdman, and the two released a 2008 underground album, This Girl That Girl.

Few of his works are considered classics, and his name is not as recognizable as that of others in the rap scene. Birdman, however, is still known as a force to be reckoned with in rap as well as a big name in the music industry.

Did You Know That Birdman...

  • ...arrested in 2007 for having a couple of ounces of marijuana?
  • ...made an appearance in the music video for Kevin Rudolf's Let It Rock? He made an appearance alongside other rappers like Lil Wayne.
  • ...ventured into film? Baller Blocking, a 2000 rap star-studded flick, featured Birdman with the likes of Juvenile and Lil Wayne.

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