The Rise & Fall of Cash Money

“Cash Money is an Army”. Words that once were true for the iconic hip hop label run by New Orleans born brothers Bryan “Birdman” Williams & Ronald “Slim” Williams.  throughout the years this army has gone through several instances of internal disputes that is leading to quite possibly the end of the once great label. But beyond all this Cash Money Records has been a major force in the music game. Thus it is only right we delve into the history of the juggernaut once known as “Cash Money Millionaires”& later the ore popular “YMCMB”

The First Wave

Although the label started in 1991, the signings of B.G in 92 & Lil Wayne in 95 would prove vital in the success of the label. In 96 when B.G dropped his debut album “Chopper City” it was the first real successful album the label put out. He then proceeded to drop two albums in the same year in 97( “It’s All on U Vol. 1 being regarded as being instrumental in future dealings for the label), also while forming a group within the label with fellow artists Juvenile, Turk & Lil Wayne known as the “Hot Boys”.

Following the success of the Hot Boys debut album “Get It How U Live” & both B.G’s & Juvenile’s individual success the label brokered a $30 million distribution deal through Universal Records, thus giving them a wider audience and more resources while keeping virtually all of their ownership. Right after the deal they Dropped Juvenile’s album 400 Degreez with the hit single “Ha” & Iconic “Back That Azz Up” leading the way, the album went on to go 4x platinum. This would spawn a run in 99 with 4 albums all going platinum starting with B.G’s “Chopper City in the Ghetto” (an album that gave us the phrase “Bling Bling”) Hot Boys “Guerilla Warfare album (their most successful one), Lil Wayne’s debut “Tha Block is Hot” (where a young Wayne shows his skills by not cussing at all on the entire album) & Juvenile’s “Tha G Code”.

in the year 2000 the label was just continuing their run. Birdman & producer Mannie Fresh released an album as a duo under the moniker “Big Tymers” They would also go on to go platinum. Success was getting so good that they even made a independent movie called “Baller Blockin”. But cracks were beginning to surface within the label.

First Departures

Between 2001-2003 the label would go on to sell well over 7 million albums collectively. But it would be without arguably the linchpin of the label B.G (although Juvenile would leave first) after financial disputes over Birdman trying to in his terms “Brainwash into giving up his money”. This would be the first of many future occurrences of people claiming to not have been rightfully paid by the label.

After dropping another successful album in 2001 Juvenile decided to leave the label which started to make B.G & Turk to start to take a look at their contracts as well. (It should be noted the old regime of Cash Money artists signed in 91 pretty much all sued for financial reasons)

Turk would also soon follow Juvie’s & B.G’s lead & leave the label. This left Lil Wayne & Mannie Fresh as the last two true members of the Army known as Cash Money Millionaires. Through this time Birdman became more involved musically with not only another Big Tymers album, but a solo album himself.

Tha Carter Series

in 2004 Lil Wayne would drop the first of a series of albums entitled “Tha  Carter”. This was the album that started to gain Wayne significant recognition & respect.  It is widely regarded as Wayne’s best album. This would be pivotal in the months to come as Jay-z would attempt to sign Wayne to Roc-a-Fella Records, but Wayne ultimately decided to stay with Cash Money with the title of President of Cash Money & his own label “Young Money Entertainment”.

Although Mannie Fresh would no longer be producing hits for him as he chose to leave the company in 05 ,Weezy would continue this momentum with the release of the Carter II. A mainstream successful hit that started to get Wayne more looks from other artists to be on their tracks most notably Destiny’s Child for their song “Soldier”. Birdman would capitalize on this momentum teaming up with Weezy on a joint album “Like Father, Like Son” a play on their father/son type relationship.

Wayne would then embark on an amazing streak of mixtape dominance not seen since 50 Cent’s rise. As well as the most requested artist for features. Mixtapes like “Dedication 2” & “Da Drought 3” are highly regarded as some of the best mixtapes ever. Not to mention features like Lloyd’s “You” or Playaz Circle “Duffle Bag Boy” or Dj Khaled’s “We Takin Ova” solidified Wayne as the “Hottest MC in the game” at the time.

By Time “Tha Carter III” dropped in 08 it was not improbable that Wayne would have a major selling album. But nobody expected him to sell over 1million albums in his first week. Hits like “Lollipop” & “A Milli” both won Grammy’s & were mega hits. Thus giving Wayne a remarkable run of dominance from 06-09.

New Era

In 09 Wayne signs Canadian Born rapper Drake & Trinidadian born rapper Nicki Minaj to Young Money. The would drop a collaborative group album with other Young Money members. New Cash Money artist Jay Sean would go on to give Cash Money their 2nd #1 record. Birdman would drop his 4th album off of the strength of a Wayne & Drake featured song “Money to Blow” & they would begin dominating under the moniker of “YMCMB”.

In 2010 both Drake & Nicki would drop their debut albums to massive commercial success, making both artist forces to be reckoned with still to this very day (Drake much more than Nicki). During this time Wayne would release two more albums (1 being a rock album) & would also do an 8 month prison sentence.

In 2011 As Drake would continue tearing up the charts with arguably his best album “Take Care” & Wayne would release the long awaited Carter IV. Young Money would sign rapper Tyga & Cash Money would sign DJ Khaled. Both spawned hits like “I’m On One” & “Rack City” further cementing YMCMB as a juggernaut of hit makers.

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Final Cracks in the Armour

In October 2014 Tyga lashed out on the label saying that he has completed his 4th studio album but Cash Money is holding his music hostage. This was the first time in awhile that an actual artist with some buzz has attacked the label. To make matters worse two months later Lil Wayne started publicly outing the label for doing the same thing with his album “Tha Carter V”. This then spawned Wayne to launch a $51 million lawsuit against the company claiming to not have been rightfully compensated for his albums, as well as the work done by Young Money artists Drake, Nicki & Tyga.

The Following year in a move seemingly to back up his boss, Drake drops an album “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late” without Cash Money’s knowledge. The album/mixtape’s title is rumoured to be a diss to Birdman & Slim. During this time Birdman partners up with Atlanta rapper Young Thug & was briefly investigated for allegedly trying to assassinate Wayne. This has caused a rift between some former associates with Birdman like rapper Rick Ross who has sided with Wayne & has dissed Birdman every chance he gets for not paying people like Khaled or producers like “Bangladesh”.

Conclusion

In recent years some members of Cash Money have done mini reunions. Whether it be with Juvenile signing back twice (03’s album “Juve The Great” & once more in 2014) The most notable reunion came with members of the Hot Boys(without B.G who is currently serving a 14 year prison sentence for having a hand gun & witness tampering) & Mannie Fresh appearing in 2 Chainz video “Used 2” which plays off of old Hot Boys lingo & pays homage to Juvie’s Back That Azz Up. These reunions have not included Birdman, however he has stated that he will be doing his own Cash Money reunion which Mannie Fresh has agreed to be apart of. 

Through all the ups & downs, through all the legal battles with producers & artists. Cash Money Records has still stood the test of time. Almost 3 decades of success. This label had two different amazing runs in the game that’ll cement their legacy forever. But as most successful groups, ego & greed has led to their downfall. Still for all you’ve done for the culture. THANK YOU.

 

 

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Immunity Ended: The impact & downfall of Dipset

In Hip Hop many groups have come & gone. Some groups stand the test of time like “A Tribe Called Quest” & some disappear after minimal success like “Dem Franchize Boyz”. Few groups come in and have a major impact not only on the music side, but as well as fashion and just the “Culture” as a whole. Few groups have accomplished this. Wu-Tang & G-unit are possibly the most famous ones & The Migos are the most recent group to be on this path. One rap group has been lost in their place & impact on the culture. That group is “The Diplomats” or “Dipset” for short.

This article is to shine a deserving light on the group as well as address the major issues that have stopped them from being looked at as the legendary faction they were.

Music

The main members of Dipset were Cam’ron, Jim Jones, Freekey Zekey & Juelz Santana. Cam’ron was already known within the industry for being associated with Mase & Big L throughout the 90’s. But it wasn’t until 2001 when he signed with Roc-a-fella records that the rise of Dipset would begin. With hits like “Oh Boy & Hey Ma” Cam & Juelz separated themselves as a dynamic duo when it comes to making records. This momentum continued with the release of their group album “Diplomatic Immunity”. The group was gaining mainstream success as well as more & more respect from the streets. Juelz was being known as a man you want featured on your single, as we would see when Chris Brown featured him on his debut track ” Run It”. Then he helped Lil Wayne become the most sought after artist in the mixtape game with their long rumored (but never coming out) “Can’t feel my face” mixtape.

Cam rode the wave of success into film roles in movies like “Paid in Full”, features with Mariah Carey, creation of his & Jimmy’s own label “Diplomat Records” as well as several other albums that have earned him a spot as one of the rappers with the most longevity seeing that he is still relevant in the year 2017. (Purple Haze, Killa season & Crime Pays) Not to mention him being one of the only rappers to feud/beef with Nas, Jay-z & 50 Cent.

Nobody will ever confuse Jim Jones as the most lyrical rapper, he is credited as being one of the artists who changed the way we listened to rappers adlibs in tracks. When he dropped his hit single We Fly High, he had everyone yelling out “Baaalliiiiiiiiin”. He helped put an emphasis on what rappers were saying outside of the bars. “Gooniieeees” being one of his more famous ones.

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Fashion 

Cam’ron & Pink. Do I need to say more? At the height of his stardom in 03 Cam by himself popularized men wearing pink. No other artist let alone rapper would dare accessorize themselves in all pink attire but Cam was always seen wearing pink & took it so far that he bought a pink Range Rover. His fashion prowess doesn’t stop there either. In 2014 during the Ebola craze, Cam sought to profit while keeping his community safe by making and releasing fashionable Ebola masks.

Jimmy did even better with the fashion. He doesn’t get credit for this but if you were around you know that through 2007-08 Jimmy was the first rapper doing the “rock star” look that is still popular today. He was the first rapper to start consistently wearing ripped jeans, with chains & tight shirts. Today’s Hip Hop scene most rappers want to be “rock stars” or at least dress that part, & that could all be attributed to the man known as Capo.

As ugly as this period was there was a time from about 07-09 when it was extremely popular in Urban fashion to have Hip Hop versions of cartoon characters on your shirts. Juelz was one of the biggest beneficiaries of this as he was one of the main faces for a clothing called Lot 29 that specifically used Looney Tunes characters.

Gang Culture

Even though Rapper “The Game” was heavily involved in it & rappers like “Lil Wayne” started repping it hard. I know in Toronto & New York the rise of the Blood culture started from Dipset. The crew wore the affiliation like a badge of honor, often saying words associated with the gang like suwoop.

Beyond that, at the height of the notorious “Stop Snitching” campaign. Cam was interviewed on 60 minutes about the movement, where he infamously stated that if a serial killer lived next door to him he would probably just move but wouldn’t call the cops. Contributing to the ever growing distrust of the urban community and the cops.

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Dysfunction

In 07 rumors circulated about issues between the bosses Cam & Jimmy, gas would further be put on the flames when Jim & Juelz showed up on stage with 50 Cent right when Cam just started a feud with him. This put a strain on their relationship, which continued once Cam sold Juelz contract to Def Jam while Jay-z was still President over there & the group was in a feud with him.

Jimmy had his own issues when his artist Stack Bundles, causing a rift between his other major artist Max B that led to them having a falling out that is still prevalent today.

The group has since reunited & have dropped a few singles together but have still not released a full length mixtape or album since reuniting back in 2010.

Lasting Legacy

All & all Dipset will forever be remembered as one of the most enigmatic, controversial & beloved groups of all time. Their run from 2002-07 give or take was memorable. They changed fashion, mixtapes, feuded with some of the best the game has had to offer. Broke several new acts from the aforementioned king of the wave Max B to producers like AArabmuzik. They popularized sayings like “no homo” & “pause”. Their impact is still felt in Hip Hop to this very day. Although they are no longer as popular as they once were, & kids of today probably have only heard “Oh Boy”. I felt it was a must that they get the love they deserve.

So Cam, Jimmy, Freekey, Juelz. All the way to Hell Rell, JR Writer & 40 Cal to name a few. We would like to say Thank You. 

And I’ll leave you with the greatest photo ever taken at The Grammy’s.

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NFL’s hypocrisy regarding Kaepernick

To any football fan it is old news that Colin Kaepernick remains a free agent, and to be honest it’s starting to become exhausting that this is still news. But with the latest injuries to quarterbacks Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens & Ryan Tannenhill of the Miami Dolphins. We have witnessed two opportunities for Kaepernick & yet those teams chose to make baffling moves instead. The Ravens still haven’t made a serious decision but went so far as to sign some guy from an indoor football league instead of Kaep, and the Dolphins considered Christian Ponder out of all people.

I’ve stayed away from this topic but today we address the hypocrisy the NFL & its fans are showing towards a player who has truly done absolutely nothing wrong.

The Production Argument 

Throughout this entire off-season we have seen countless analysts & players all debate about Kaep’s production the last 2 seasons being the reason he is still unsigned. While that may be true about his injury filled 2015 campaign (1,615 yards passing, 6TD’s & 5INT’s), this can’t be said about last season (2,241 yards passing, 16TD’s & 4INT’s). His wins/losses was horrible last year but if we are talking about production being the reason & not his national anthem protest, then why in the world would the Dolphins even consider Ponder over Kaepernick? A QB who hasn’t even thrown a pass since the 2014 season, & when he was throwing passes he wasn’t very good (38career TD’s & 36career INT’s).

Then comes who the Dolphins actually signed. The one & Only Jay Cutler. A man who had a career high 26INT’s his first year in Chicago. A man who has only 1 playoff appearance & hasn’t been back since 2011. Let’s put this into perspective. Kaep’s career high for INT’s is 10. They say Cutler fits the Dolphins system. It is true his former coach is the coach of the Dolphins, but analysts are raving over Cutler having a career year under Coach Gase in 2015 (3,659 yards 21TD’s). What they fail to also say is that year he still threw 11INT’s, loss 9 games & still didn’t make the playoffs. Beyond that he is a QB with  a reputation for being lazy & was famously called out by former player Martellus Bennett for being the worst QB in the league & said that he is pretty much coming out of retirement to make his wife Happy.

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Fans showing true Colors

People make it seem as if Kaepernick has committed a crime when in all actuality he was just expressing his views in a peaceful protest. Former Eagles President Joe Banner said the team didn’t consider fan reaction when they signed Mike Vick who was famously put in jail for dog fighting. But for some reason the Ravens are listening to fans that let’s be honest probably have a racist reason as to not want Kaepernick on the team. I don’t recall these same Ravens fans protesting the team keeping Ray Lewis on the roster when he was helping them compete for championships. Mind you Ray Lewis was under investigation for Murder. Colin has only brought light on cops killing innocent black men.

Let’s take this a little further with the fans. Ben Rothlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers has twice been accused of sexual assault, & was even suspended for 4 games because of the accusations. His own team President Art Rooney II, terminated a sponsorship deal Big Ben had. But I’ve never seen any fan protests or resistance towards the the Steelers continuing to employ him.

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Real Message being shown

The message being shown is you can commit a crime and the fans & teams will stand behind you, but stand up for civil rights & you will be punished. Both the NFL owners & fans have been blatantly showing their true colors & casting another ugly cloud over the perception of this league. Players are starting to speak out about the message owners are trying to send to them by not signing Colin.

It resonates with words Jamie Foxx’s character Willie Beamen said in the movie Any Given Sunday. “Maybe it’s not racism it’s placism. A brotha needs to know his place.”

 

Busta Rhymes: Thank You

For over the past 3 decades one hip hop artist has stood the test of time but has never been rightfully given the respect he has been deserving of. This artist has had several multi platinum albums, memorable tracks and had a major hand in changing the way music videos were made in a time widely considered to be hip hop’s hey day, the 90’s. This artist is Busta Rhymes.

For some strange reason Busta is rarely ever listed as an all time top MC/lyricist despite the fact he has the resume to prove otherwise.

Longevity

Busta has been rapping since 1989 with the group The Leaders of The New School. We are in the year 2017 and he is currently working on his 10th studio album.  That is an almost 30 year career in a genre that is not so grateful and accepting of older acts. In this time he has dropped 9 solo albums 5 which have gone platinum, several classic hits like “Woo Hah!!”, “Gimme Some More”, Pass the Courvoisier” and “Touch It” just to name a few. Not to mention has even been able to be the best part on Chris Brown’s “Look At Me Now” track, which also featured a bigger artist at the time “Lil Wayne”.

But when you ask fans to list the best rappers of all time or from back in the day you don’t really hear any of them mention Busta. You get Nas, Jay-Z, Tupac, Biggie. You’ll even get Snoop before fans will mention Busta. No knock to Snoop but when it comes to pure rapping he can’t hang with Busta. We can also add that his performances are still some of the best despite his age. Staying relevant in Hip Hop for almost 30 years is one of the hardest accomplishments in music and I feel he should get more appreciation for his longevity.

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Cultural Impact

Busta has had some the most creative, outlandish and expensive music videos. His single “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See” was the first rap video with a million dollar budget. It brought another level of performance and visual effects than seen before. He had a bigger impact on how music videos were made in the late 90’s-early 2000’s that arguably any other artist at the time.

When Busta dropped the video for “Pass the Courvosier” it became a subject for product placement in rap songs and/or videos, which has become even more prevalent in recent years (i.e Versace from Migos). When he dropped “Touch It” in 2005 was on the most remixed songs of that year. Looking at his verse from “Look At Me Now” made it cool to rap super fast again.

 

Overall

To end off. In a genre where the legends/greats don’t or rarely get praised until their deaths, I felt it was needed to give the legends to our music, our culture the love they deserve because people never get the flowers while they could still smell them. I’d just like to say to one of the best performers, lyricists, pure musical geniuses still putting in work. THANK YOU 

 

 

Why is Casey still here?

With the recent moves the Toronto Raptors have made this off-season it is clear the team is committed to staying competitive now, while also setting up for the future. One thing still remains that will keep the Raptors in the position of middle tier team, Dwayne Casey. Coach Casey is an excellent defensive coach & arguably the best coach the franchise has had. However his inability to make in game adjustments or motivate his players is as clear as water.

With all due respect to coach Casey, this is an article pointing out why the franchise should move on from him.

Culture Change

The first press conference after this season ended, Raptors President of Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri stated that the team needed to reset and have a style and culture change. He did not point out exactly what the team needed to do but from a fans perspective it was pretty clear that the Iso, one on one, let’s ride Demar and Lowry style of play was not going to work. Especially seeing the success the Golden State Warriors have had with a more free flowing, team orientated playing style. This starts with the coach who implements the game-plan and focus for the team.

This point has been validated even more with the recent departure of Demarre Carroll who stated the current style of play caused a rift in the locker room. It will be hard for fans and players to buy into a culture change when the head of the former focus of “Pound the Rock” is still leading the charge.

Pace and Space

In the NBA today is dominated by smaller lineups focusing on speed, spacing and scoring. Majority of teams have moved away from the old model of a dominate big man, or one star taking over games like the Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant days. However the Raptors seem to be stuck in the old model. Jonas Valanciunas is and old school center that clogs up the lane and can’t guard multiple positions. Demar Derozan dominates the ball in isolation sets, and is limited in his perimeter shooting. This is not a formula for long term success but this is also a formula Coach Casey has been riding the past 4 seasons. It seems like it would be difficult for him to abandon what he knows and what has worked for him. Maybe another coach could come in and implement a new style of play the players can buy into…It has worked in the past.

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Coaching Change

 

While it would seem unthinkable to replace a coach who has brought the most success to the franchise in the midst of the team still being good, it wouldn’t be the first time and while it doesn’t always work out, (Bulls replacing Tom Thibodeau hasn’t brought more success) the examples of it working has been great. Back during the Miami Heat’s 2005-06 championship season current coach Stan Van-Gundy resigned from his job & legendary Pat Riley took over. Coach Riley stepped in and made changes that resulted in the Heat’s first NBA championship. In 2014 the Warriors decided to move on from head coach Mark Jackson, (who helped build the roster and develop their current stars) they brought in Steve Kerr who implemented his own style of play that has brought them 2 championships in 3 years.

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Sometimes change at the top is needed to re-energize the team and players. The Raptors and Masai need to figure out if that is the move they need to make in order for their current roster to take the next step. It is something I have been stating since the loss to the Brooklyn Nets 4 years ago. Maybe it’s about time to pull that trigger and not waste another season being mediocre.

Preview & Prediction: Celtics vs Cavs

Coming off the heels of a thrilling game 7 victory over the Washington Wizards on Monday night. The Boston Celtics prepare for their first Eastern Conference Finals appearance since the 2012, the last season of the Original Big 3. Similar to that team in 2012, the opponent for this year’s Celtics happens to be none other than Lebron James.

While nobody outside of the Boston faithful believe the Celtics will upset the Cavs & make a trip to the NBA Finals. The belief is this series will be competitive & make the Cavs have to work for their 3rd straight trip to the Finals.

Unlike the Pacers, The Celtics have the depth to truly challenge Cleveland, & unlike the Raptors the Celtics are going into this series healthy, & fully believing they can make history by ending the defending champs dreams of going back-to-back.

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My personal opinion is that Boston needs to win game 1 to have any shot at pulling off the upset. The Cavs haven’t played a game since May 7th. By the time they tip off that will be 10 days off. Meanwhile during that time the Celtics were in a heated battle that just concluded. They still have momentum on their side, this is why game 1 is their best opportunity to strike while the Cavs may be fighting off some rust.

The Celtics struggled on the road vs Washington, losing all 3 of their road games. Winning in Cleveland will prove to be much harder than that. Their best bet to win this series is to control home court, losing game 1 would be a killer blow & halt all the momentum they’ve just built from their game 7 victory.

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The Cavs dominated the regular season series 3-1 & the last game they played against each other. Lebron, Kyrie & company are on a path to destiny. I personally don’t see this being a close series, especially if Boston drops game 1 at home. I see the Cavs dominating this series, not as much as the Raptors series but don’t be surprised if this ends up in a sweep & the much anticipated Finals match-up between the Cavs & Warriors.

Final prediction Cavs win this series 4-1.

 

Making A Statement

If you’ve been watching this year in the NBA you know that the Cavs & Warriors have been on a collision course to a rubber match in the Finals. But if you’ve been paying close attention to how both teams have performed during these playoffs you’ll notice that the battle between these two juggernauts has already begun.

Every win by one of them is matched by the other. Both teams have started these playoffs 8-0. They are making it look easy by seemingly flipping the switch & going to a next level on their opponents whenever they please. This is not to discredit their competition this is just low key statements they are making towards each other.

The latest chapter to this rivalry that has spawned the past 3 NBA seasons & most likely will be a 3rd straight NBA Finals match-up this year, has come from none other that Draymond Green himself. After defeating the Utah Jazz on Monday Draymond started blatantly poking the bear that is Lebron James, suggesting that the Cavs have faced inferior competition compared to them. We all know the media will ask Lebron and company how they feel about those remarks stirring more animosity & anticipation towards their potential impending match-up in June.

Keep your eyes open for the Conference Finals when both teams have another chance to one up each other before the showdown the basketball world is waiting for goes down. It leads to more hot topics for us to discuss, making it all the more exciting if/when they do meet up in June.