In the history of hip-hop, no label has had the success of Cash Money. The baby of Slim and Baby remains the most successful empire in rap music, more than two decades after its humble beginnings with a 15-year-old rapper named Kilo G. Through multiple generations, Cash Money has defined the sound of popular hip-hop, transcending our greatest icons, producing lasting stars that defied the critics and transformed the shape of the genre. No less a figure than Def Jam founder Russell Simmons recently penned an editorial arguing the label was the best company in rap history.
Of course, not everyone under the label's thumb has been happy with their treatment. As much as Baby and Slim deserve credit, the first half of the company's history depended entirely on the genius of Mannie Fresh for its success. Nonetheless, the label has persevered even without him. From its early days as an innovator creating gangster rap in a bounce city, to the arrival of the Hot Boyz and the Big Tymers of Cash Money's golden age; from the landmark deal with Universal that forced major labels to deal on the artists' terms, to the rise of Lil Wayne as not just the genre's greatest talent but its most popular one as well; from "A Milli" to the emergence of Drake, Nicki Minaj, and Young Money as superstars in an era where almost every other rapper struggles to breach the Top 40, YMCMB has sustained.
The new wealth imagery was replaced with the stark appearances of urban poverty, the harrowing realities of Birdman's “Neck of the Woods”—Uptown New Orleans. It was an indication that while Wayne was the fresh face of hope for new Cash Money, and the money was still coming in, the focus had returned to the streets. Cash Money wasn't about to cross over and sell out.