Birdman (rapper)

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Birdman
Birdman performing at Club Nokia.jpg
Birdman in May 2010
Born
Bryan Christopher Brooks[1]

(1963-02-15) February 15, 1963 (age 55)[2]
Other names
  • B-32
  • Baby With The 32 Golds
  • Stunna
  • Beatrice
  • Bubba
  • Atrice
Occupation
  • Rapper
  • record executive
  • entrepreneur
  • investor
  • songwriter
Net worthUS$90 million[3][4] (2018)
TelevisionBaller Blockin'
Children2
RelativesRonald "Slim" Williams (brother)
BenJarvus Green-Ellis (nephew)
Musical career
Genres
Years active1990–present
Labels
Associated acts

Bryan Christopher Williams (born Bryan Christopher Brooks; February 15, 1963), known by his stage name Birdman (also known as Baby), is an American rapper, record executive and entrepreneur. He is the co-founder and public face of Cash Money Records which he founded with his older brother Ronald "Slim" Williams in 1991. Birdman released his eponymous debut album in 2002, and has gone on to release four solo studio albums in total. Aside from his solo career, he is also a member of the hip-hop duo Big Tymers, along with producer Mannie Fresh.

Along with his solo work and numerous releases with the Big Tymers, Birdman has released a collaboration album and numerous tracks with fellow rapper and protégé Lil Wayne, whom he discovered and took under his wing at an early age. Birdman has also made his name by contributing to the making of YMCMB (Young Money Cash Money Billionaires), a combination of the former's "Cash Money" and Lil Wayne's Young Money Entertainment imprint under the label. Birdman has also founded the project and hip hop supergroup Rich Gang, bringing attention to artists such as Young Thug and Rich Homie Quan.

Early life[edit]

Birdman was born Bryan Christopher Brooks on February 15, 1969 at Charity Hospital in New Orleans to Johnnie Williams and Gladys Brooks. For almost a month after his birth, he did not have a given name, which led to people simply calling him "Baby", a nickname he retains to this day. Williams did not sign the birth certificate, which led to Bryan taking his mother's surname at birth. As a child, Brooks and his family lived on top of a bar, which was owned by their father. His mother, Gladys, became ill and died in 1975 when Bryan was five years old.[1][5][6] After their mother's death, Birdman and his siblings Kim, Ronald and Ray were taken in by their uncle and spent two or three years in Prince George, British Columbia, Canada, followed by two years in foster care upon their return to New Orleans. After their father Johnnie learned that they were in the foster home, a long legal battle took place in the mid-'70s which eventually ended with Johnnie and his wife Patricia gaining full custody and Bryan's name changing to Bryan Williams.[1][7][8][9] He then lived in the Magnolia Projects in Central City, New Orleans, where he developed a strong friendship with his step-brother Eldrick Wise.[10] While living in the Magnolia, Williams and Wise began committing robberies and sold heroin before both getting arrested at the age of 16. At 18, both were again arrested for drug possession and sentenced to three years in Elayn Hunt Correctional Center. Williams served 18 months before he was acquitted of all charges.[11][1]

Career[edit]

1997–2005: Big Tymers[edit]

In 1998 to 2002, he joined producer and DJ Mannie Fresh to form the duo Big Tymers.[12] Big Tymers debuted in 1998 with the album How Ya Luv That? and went on to release I Got That Work in 2000 and Hood Rich in 2002, respectively. I Got That Work had the singles "Get Your Roll On" and "#1 Stunna". Although the singles failed to debut on The Billboard Hot 100 music chart, I Got That Work was certified Platinum by the RIAA for selling over 1 million copies in the United States. Hood Rich had "Still Fly", which was nominated for a Grammy, and "Oh Yeah!" Hood Rich was also certified Platinum in the US. Big Money Heavyweight followed in 2003. "Big Money Heavyweight was certified Gold in the US. In 2005, Mannie Fresh left the group and resigned from Cash Money.[13] After his group Big Tymers broke up he changed his name from "Baby" to "Birdman".

2005–09: Like Father Like Son, 5 * Stunna, and Priceless[edit]

Lil Wayne and Birdman released an album titled Like Father, Like Son. It was certified gold and spawned two singles, which were "Stuntin' Like My Daddy" and "Leather So Soft". He was also featured on the remixes of high selling rap singles such as "We Fly High" by Jim Jones and "Make It Rain" by Fat Joe. In 2007, Birdman released his fourth studio album, 5 * Stunna. The first single, "Pop Bottles", featuring Lil Wayne, was a hit, as was the second single "100 Million", featuring Young Jeezy, Rick Ross and Lil Wayne. The third single, featuring Lil Wayne, titled "I Run This", was a hit as well. Birdman refers to Lil Wayne as his son, not biologically, but emotionally. He had known Wayne since he was a child. He was definitely a father figure to Wayne. He expressed his feelings for Wayne in an interview in Tim Westwood's radio show, where he also addressed the innocent photo of them kissing mouth to mouth like a father and son.[14]

Birdman's first single from his album Pricele$$ was "Always Strapped", featuring Lil Wayne, and the second was "Written on Her", featuring British singer Jay Sean. "Southside", featuring Lil Wayne, was the third single.[15] "Money to Blow" featuring Drake and Lil Wayne was the fourth single. "4 My Town (Play Ball)" featuring Drake and Lil Wayne was the fifth single. "Written on Her" also became Birdman's first UK release in December 2009.[16]

2010–present: Bigga Than Life and future collaboration plans[edit]

In 2010 he was going to release an album titled Priceless 2, a sequel to his previous album, but changed it to Bigga Than Life.[17] The first promotional single was titled "Loyalty" and featured Lil Wayne and Tyga.[17] Other collaborations will come from Rick Ross, Young Jeezy, Bun B and Drake.[17] The album was scheduled to be released in early 2011.[18] He released a music video for a possible future single, "My Jewel", which featured Bun B and Young Jeezy.[19] On November 22, 2010, he released the first official single, "Fire Flame", which featured Lil Wayne. Birdman released another single called "I Get Money" featuring T-Pain, Young Money artist Mack Maine and Lil Wayne. On September 13, 2011, Birdman released "Y.U. MAD", featuring Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne. He collaborated with Mack Maine as a duo named White Boys to release a mixtape titled Billionaire Minds on November 2, 2011.[20] On May 22, 2012, he released "Born Stunna", featuring Rick Ross. The remix, featuring Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj, was released July 10, 2012. The most recent single, "Shout Out" featuring Gudda Gudda and French Montana, was released October 16, 2012.

During 2008 it was announced Birdman was set to release a mixtape with his long-time friend Rick Ross titled The H.[21] On May 16, 2013 Birdman and Rick Ross announced that The H would be released as a mixtape hosted by DJ Khaled on May 23, 2013. The project was recorded during a couple days in 2008.[22] A new compilation album, entitled Rich Gang: Flashy Lifestyle, hosted by Birdman, was previously set to be released June 25, 2013. The album would feature appearances from the many members of Cash Money Records and Young Money Entertainment among others such as Meek Mill, French Montana and Future. A mixtape titled Rich Gang: Allstars was released prior to the release of that album. This mixtape included singles from artists of Rich Gang, such as "Started From the Bottom" by Drake, "Bugatti" by Ace Hood featuring Rick Ross and Future, "Karate Chop" (Remix) by Future, "Love Me" by Lil Wayne featuring Drake and Future, "Freaks" by French Montana featuring Nicki Minaj, "Rich As Fuck" by Lil Wayne featuring 2 Chainz, and "Champions" by Kevin Rudolf featuring Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit, Birdman, and Lil Wayne.

In 2014, Birdman began promoting Atlanta-based rappers Young Thug and Rich Homie Quan. The two had already collaborated extensively with each other. Birdman released a single titled "Lifestyle" featuring Young Thug and Rich Homie Quan from a Rich Gang album. He also released a second Rich Gang mixtape titled Rich Gang: Tha Tour Pt. 1 featuring new music from Young Thug and Rich Homie Quan. The mix-tape featured no music from Young Money or Cash Money artists except Birdman himself, and instead had guest features from artists such as PeeWee Longway, Nipsey Hu$$le, Jacquees and Yung Ralph. Birdman, Young Thug, and Rich Homie Quan had a joint tour planned.[23]

Forbes magazine estimated his personal fortune at US $125 million in 2012.[24][25] In 2013 he was listed by Forbes.com as the fifth highest-earning star in hip hop, taking in $21 million in the year to September 2013.[26]

Birdman and Lil Wayne had supposedly reconciled from their beef in 2016 after being seen at Drake's NYE Party, at Miami's Club Liv, and in studio.[27] However, a contract dispute still exists between them, with the latter trying to get out of the contract; in 2016, Birdman called off the negotiations to settle their lawsuit.[28]

Birdman announced the release date of his mixtape with his protege Jacquees on April 26, 2016.[29] This went on to be released on May 27, 2016 and he had other projects released in 2016.

Personal life[edit]

Family and relationships[edit]

Birdman's mother, Gladys Brooks (August 29, 1935 – January 21, 1975), whom he exclusively refers to as Ms. Gladys, died when he was 5 years old. Birdman has made numerous references to her in his music, including releasing a song named after her.[5][6] His father, Johnnie Williams (September 20, 1920 – July 13, 1996), owned a number of small businesses in the New Orleans area, including multiple bars and a laundrette.[30] Johnnie was killed in a car accident in 1996.[1]

Birdman has ten brothers and twelve sisters, including Ronald "Slim" Williams. Ronald is the co-founder of Cash Money Records, alongside Birdman. One of Birdman's younger sisters, Tamara, was killed in a car accident in 2006. Due to their mother passing away at a young age, Birdman primarily raised his younger sister and referred to her as his "daughter".[31][32] Birdman also had a close relationship with his step-brother Eldrick Wise, who was killed in an unsolved murder in 1991.[1]

Birdman has two children, Bryan Jr. (born 1997) and Bria (born 1998).[33]

In May 2016, Birdman began dating singer and longtime friend/collaborator Toni Braxton. They became engaged in February 2018.[34]

Legal issues[edit]

Mugshot, November 2007

In November 2007, Birdman was arrested in Kingsport, Tennessee and charged with possession of nearly a pound of marijuana.[35][36]

In October 2009, Birdman, Lil Wayne, Cash Money Records and various music distribution outlets were sued for copyright infringement by Thomas Marasciullo, who claims his voice was used without permission. Both rappers asked him to record some "Italian-styled spoken word recordings" in 2006. The lyrics were allegedly used on "Respect" and other tracks from the rappers' collaboration album Like Father, Like Son and Birdman's 5 * Stunna.[37]

Controversy[edit]

Conflict with Lil Wayne[edit]

On December 4, 2014, just five days before Tha Carter V was scheduled to be released, Wayne issued a statement saying the album would not be released due to his displeasure with Birdman refusing to release the album, although it had been completed. Wayne also expressed his feelings by stating he felt he and his creative partner were being held "prisoner". Lil Wayne filed a lawsuit. On January 20, 2015, Wayne self-released Sorry 4 the Wait 2, a sequel to his 2011 mixtape, to compensate for the continued delay of Tha Carter V. Upon Sorry for the Wait 2's release, it was noted that Wayne disses Birdman and Cash Money Records several times throughout. Birdman was reported to be upset with this. In late January 2015, Lil Wayne filed a $51 million lawsuit against Birdman and Cash Money over the delay of Tha Carter V.

In January 2015, Wayne stated that when he leaves Cash Money, he would take Drake and Nicki Minaj with him. On June 22, TMZ reported new details on the lawsuit. According to documents filed by Lil Wayne, Birdman and Cash Money had mismanaged Young Money, including Drake and Minaj. The documents alleged that Birdman and Cash Money haven't paid people. "Free C5" became the mantra to get money to the unpaid artist. In June 2015, Wayne joined Jay-Z's Tidal as an artist owner and exclusively released a single on the service titled "Glory." On July 4, 2015, Wayne released Free Weezy Album exclusively through Tidal under Young Money and Republic Records. On July 15, prosecutors allege Birdman and Young Thug conspired to murder Lil Wayne and were involved in the April 26 shooting. On July 16, Birdman filed a $50 million lawsuit against Jay Z's Tidal streaming service over Lil Wayne's Free Weezy Album. The lawsuit claims that Cash Money Records exclusively owns the rights to Lil Wayne's music, although he is now independent and the label no longer owns these rights.

On April 12, 2017, Birdman took to Instagram to announce that he had accepted a plaque in honor of Cash Money Records having sold one billion units.

On September 13, 2018, it was announced that Young Money was no longer a joint business venture with Cash Money. Ownership of the imprint was granted entirely to Lil Wayne as part of the legal settlements with Birdman that were finalized.

Other ventures[edit]

Oil business[edit]

In early 2010, Birdman formed an oil and gas exploration company, Bronald Oil and Gas, LLC. The company was a joint venture founded by Birdman and his brother Slim, and the name was a combination of the brothers' first names, Bryan and Ronald. Evidence of the company's actual business operations was scant, limited mostly to a website and the appearance of a "pumpjack" tattoo on the side of Birdman's head.[38] The website indicated that the company's strategy would be to first develop existing land holdings and seek out new oil and gas leases. In February 2010, Birdman told Ozone magazine that he had been in the oil business for "4 or 5 years" and was "making very good money off that".[39]

However, by March 2010, Birdman had almost completely covered the pumpjack tattoo, which sparked speculation that the Bronald Oil project had stalled.[40] An investigative report from Bloomberg revealed that official regulators in charge of oil and gas permits had never heard of Bronald.[41]

Clothing line[edit]

On April 22, 2016, Birdman disparaged the hosts of hip-hop radio show The Breakfast Club during a live interview, telling them to "stop playing with my fucking name" and to "put some respek on my name".[42] He later issued an apology for his outburst after being awarded the "Donkey of the Day" appellation from one of the hosts, Charlamagne Tha God.[43] The video went viral, and on April 27, 2016, Birdman launched a merchandise line, "Respek", featuring catchphrases from the interview.[44][45]

Discography[edit]

Studio albums
Collaborative albums

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f MT Prxphet (27 February 2018). "Birdman Before Anythang: The Cash Money Story (Documentary)". Retrieved 6 November 2018 – via YouTube.
  2. ^ "Birdman - Biography, Albums, Streaming Links - AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  3. ^ Greenburg, Zack O'Malley. "The Forbes Five: Hip-Hop's Wealthiest Artists 2018". Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  4. ^ "2018's Richest rappers".
  5. ^ a b "Birdman Honors His Mother in the Video for "Ms. Gladys"". Complex. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  6. ^ a b "Birdman Reveals His Mother Was Shot When He Was 2 Years Old - XXL". XXL Mag. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  7. ^ "Birdman, 5th richest man in hip hop, has secret Canadian connection - CBC News". Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  8. ^ "Birdman Used to Live in Prince George, BC". exclaim.ca. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  9. ^ "Birdman Talks Lil Wayne, Being Homeless & More With Angie Martinez". 22 April 2016. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  10. ^ Industry Profile: Bryan "Birdman" Williams Archived 2016-10-05 at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ "Birdman Talks Lil' Wayne, Cash Money Biopic, & More With Angie Martinez". Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  12. ^ Jeffries, David. "Birdman > Biography". allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved March 22, 2009.
  13. ^ Birchmeier, Jason. "Big Tymers: Biography". allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved March 22, 2009.
  14. ^ http://hiphopdx.com, HipHopDX -. "Birdman: "I'd Kiss Lil Wayne Again"". Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  15. ^ "Birdman – Written On Her (Feat Jay Sean) [Music Video]". Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  16. ^ Birdman interview by Pete Lewis, Blues & Soul. December 2009
  17. ^ a b c Birdman, Lil Wayne And Tyga Rep Their Hometowns In 'Loyalty' Video, MTV, June 16, 2010
  18. ^ Kuperstein, Slava (November 14, 2010). "Birdman Talks Lil Wayne, Drake Collaboration Album". HipHop DX. Cheri Media Group.
  19. ^ Birdman Ft. Young Jeezy & Bun B – My Jewel (Official Video) latesthoodvids on YouTube
  20. ^ "White Boys (Birdman & Mack Maine - Billionaire Minds (No DJ)". Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  21. ^ Reid, Shaheem (May 23, 2008). "T.I. Tests Himself As A Producer". Mixtape Monday. MTV News.
  22. ^ "Birdman And Rick Ross To Release Lost Album, 'The H' On May 23 - XXL". XXL Mag. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  23. ^ Corban Goble (2014-10-03). "Birdman / Young Thug / Rich Homie Quan: Tha Tour Part 1 Album Review". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2016-04-22.
  24. ^ ""Mind Of Mannie"". Archived from the original on 2008-01-17. Retrieved 2015-05-27.. XXL. May 24, 2006.
  25. ^ The top 10 richest hip-hop stars of 2013 Archived 2014-02-21 at the Wayback Machine.. 3 News NZ. 25 September 2013.
  26. ^ "Hip-hop's Wealthiest Artists". Forbes.com. Retrieved September 24, 2013.
  27. ^ Schwartz, Danny. "Birdman supposedly reconciles with Lil Wayne". Hotnewhiphop. Retrieved 2016-01-21.
  28. ^ Galbraith, Alex (21 November 2016). "Birdman calls off lawsuit after Lil Wayne shouts Roc-a-Fella at Camp Flog Gnaw". Uproxx. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  29. ^ Smith, Trevor (April 26, 2016). "Birdman & Jacquees Share "Lost At Sea" Mixtape Release Date". Hotnewhiphop.
  30. ^ Setaro, Shawn. "Baby Money: Inside The Early Years Of Birdman's Cash Money Records". Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  31. ^ "Birdman's Sister Dies in Car Crash". 14 December 2006. Retrieved 29 June 2018.
  32. ^ "Birdman5star on Instagram: "RIP to my daughter magnolia shorty #gonebutnevaforgotten #cashmoney"". Instagram. Retrieved 29 June 2018.[permanent dead link]
  33. ^ "Lil Wayne Takes Photos with Birdman's Children - Rap-Up - Rap-Up". www.rap-up.com. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  34. ^ "Toni Braxton Confirms Engagement to Birdman: See Her Massive Ring".
  35. ^ Breeding, Kacie Dingus (November 27, 2007). "Kingsport traffic stop cages rapper Birdman and his entourage on drug charges; ATF helps with firearms probe". The Times-Picayune.
  36. ^ Kaufman, Gil (November 28, 2007). "Baby, A.K.A. Birdman, Arrested For Marijuana Possession". MTV News. Retrieved March 22, 2009.
  37. ^ "Rapper Mogul Birdman Unveils Indie Oil Company". HeatingOil.com. 2010-01-23. Archived from the original on 2012-02-28. Retrieved 2012-03-28.
  38. ^ "Ozone Magazine". Ozonemag.com. Archived from the original on 2010-02-15. Retrieved 2012-03-28.
  39. ^ "Bronald Oil Update: Birdman Covers Up Tattoo, Stokes Skepticism". HeatingOil.com. 2010-03-04. Archived from the original on 2012-04-14. Retrieved 2012-03-28.
  40. ^ "Six Unusual Rapper Side Hustles – Page 5 of 7 – XXL". Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  41. ^ Fleischer, Adam (April 22, 2016). "Birdman Flips Out On 'Breakfast Club,' Leaves Interview Before It Starts". MTV.
  42. ^ Victoria, Hernandez. "Birdman Offers Apology To "The Breakfast Club"". hiphopdx.com. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  43. ^ Garland, Maurice (April 27, 2016). Hip-Hop Wired http://hiphopwired.com/2016/04/2. Missing or empty |title= (help)[permanent dead link]
  44. ^ Schwartz, Danny. "Birdman releases new line of clothing". Hotnewhiphop. Retrieved April 27, 2016.

External links[edit]