Birdman: On Obama, Katrina, Cash Money's Future Past Paradise

AllHipHop Staff

Throughout his career as an

artist and music industry executive, Baby aka Birdman has seen his fare share

of controversy, from beef to lawsuits and everything in between. He has

seemingly remained undaunted by what others may have to say about his style of

music, business practices and even his lifestyle. But behind the music, there

is a man who still carries the weight of a troubled childhood; a son of New

Orleans, who remains just as loyal to his Uptown neighborhood as he has always

been; a father, who would like to provide the most for his children and spare

them some of what he has seen.

Only days before’s

interview with Baby, President Obama made reference to his protégé, Lil’ Wayne,

in a speech to the NAACP about the responsibility African-Americans hold

towards the next generation. We took that opportunity to get Baby to open up

about the the topic, as well as Post-Katrina politics and the legacy he plans

to leave behind. Last month,

President Obama addressed the statistics that are out there for young Black men.

At the same time, he was encouraging young boys to remember that that doesn’t

mean you should give up on your life too early. How much influence towards the

opposite do you think you have on your young listeners, not only because of the

subject matter you discuss, but the fact that some people could say that you

affiliate yourself with a gang and you’re real open about it? How do you

balance the message you’re putting out there?

Baby: I don’t think we

glorify gangs. I don’t feel the same way other people feel. I love red. Red is

what I do. That’s my blood, that’s my neck of the woods, that’s my

neighborhood. And I don’t feel like I was put here to raise other people’s kids

by my music and how I live. I think that comes from home. I don’t even know

your children to raise them. Even in my household, music didn’t raise me. I was

raised in the streets. But at the same

time, 40-50 years ago… we don’t even have to go back that far. Let’s say 30

years ago, being an musician wasn’t really something that African-American

children saw as a model of success, as something they could grow up to be. You

could also say that the doctor, astronaut, fireman, or even President Obama

aren’t here to raise your kids, but the reality is that they see you, they see

what you’re doing, you’re successful…

Baby: I mean, I don’t think

it’s nothing wrong with wanting to be successful and wanting to rap and do

those things. But to speak about how you live and how you done lived, that’s

cool to me. I mean, I looked up to people before I became who I am. That’s just

a part of life. How do you feel

about the fact that, in his speech, the two names President Obama specifically

said were…

Baby: Lebron [James] and

Wayne. On one side, that

definitely shows the level of success you’ve had. But do you feel like it’s

also going to draw more criticism for you?

Baby: Criticism been with us

since we started. [But] I don’t know how he said it or what he meant by it. What he said,

essentially, was that just because they might have a good jumpshot or a nice

flow, all of our sons don’t need to aspire to be Lebron or Lil’ Wayne. “I want

them to grow up to be a Supreme Court Justice, or a scientist, etc.”

Baby: Believe that. So you agree with


Baby: Yeah. There’s more to

life than just… everybody not into just basketball and rap. You got people

that’s into other things, but [who] still love music and still love basketball.

Obama, he into Wayne and Lebron. So, to me, it’s a lot of other things that we

gone get into. Like my little nieces, they wanna be a lawyer so they can join

in and help out. To this day,

there are still great signs of the effect Hurricane Katrina had on New Orleans.

Talk to us a little about home to you right now. Have you been back recently?

Are you back a lot?

Baby: Yeah, I’m back a lot. But you’re not

back living there.

Baby: I mean, I’m back and

forth. I go there though. I’m not living there, I live in Miami. Do you see

yourself going back permanently?

Baby: I never left, to me.

We just had to move on to do other things. But that’s where I’m gone be buried

at, so I don’t think I ever left. My house is back up. I love my city. I’ll

never leave it. What’s going on

there now as you see it? Do you feel like the city is on track to get back to

where it used to be?

Baby: Nah, not at all.

Corruption, just the town how it’s been. Ain’t nothing ever changed, now just

people get to see more of what’s going on. But it’s gonna take more than what

we can do to even help any kind of way. It’s just gonna take a lot. I don’t

think nobody paying attention. I don’t even think nobody give a f**k. It is

what it is. We gotta live with it. Other people can feel our pain, but ain’t

nobody living it and going through what we went through and what we’re going

through. For a muthf***a to visit, they could be like, ‘Oh, that’s f***ed up.”

But to live it, it’s real f***ed up. With you being

one of the people that’s lucky enough to be living it from a distance..

Baby: I’m always living it,

because my people living it. I feel the pain of what we lost. And what we lost,

we never can gain. That’s scar ain’t never going nowhere. So what can you

do to help? Do you think there’s anything that you can personally do?

Baby: I mean, try to help as

much as you can, or who you can. But it’s bigger than what we can do. We tried

to do what we can with our foundations. I like helping the kids out, sponsoring

them with sports and things; tryna help the schools out. But it’s bigger than

what we can do. But like I say, don’t nobody give a f**k, so we just got to

live with that. But you really

are in a position to bring this to more people’s attention. Like you said, for

an outsider, obviously the minute something else happens in the world, they’re

gonna shift their attention. So for a lot of people, Katrina hasn’t crossed

their minds in the last three years at all. Do you think bringing it back to

the forefront would help the people of New Orleans?

Baby: Maybe, maybe not. I

mean, everybody know. Who don’t know? We had a f***ed up President when it

happened. To me, don’t nobody give a f**k. They know all the homicides going on

too, n****s getting killed on the regular. That’s just something we gotta live

with. To me in life, I don’t think crying about it gone solve anything. It

ain’t gonna make a n***a bills get paid. So we just gotta go for what we know

and live it how we get it. It ain’t just [getting] like that, it been like

that. So we gotta do whatever we gotta do to support our family. What would you say to someone who would say

that you guys left and you’re not involved with what’s going on in the city?

Baby: That’s they opinion.

Everybody entitled to their opinion. You gotta live yours and I gotta live

mine. Outside of the music

and running the label, do you find time to have something else going on in your

life? When you need to get away, what do you do?

Baby: The pleasure of my

life is spending time with my kids; my son Wayne, watching him do what he do,

that’s goals for me. That’s my reason for living. I got grandchildren now. I

wanna make sure they have everything in life. Imma spoil them as much as I can.

I want my children to live the life. I want them to be better than me, do

better. I’m good with that: if I can just see my children on my off time when

we ain’t doing nothing. Because, [when I had] my children, we was young, and I

didn’t really get the chance to grow up with them like I wanted to, because I

was running with this music s**t. So at this point in my life, I wanna spend a

lot of time with my children and my grandchildren. So if you

grandchildren decided to go into music, would you support their decision?

Baby: Of course, my godchild into music and my daughter, which is Wayne

daughter Reginae and my daughter Bria. My son not really into it, he into

music. But anyone in our bloodline who wanna do this, Imma definitely do it for

‘em. Imma help ‘em out. When it’s all

said and done, do you think you’ll ever put Baby and Birdman to the side and go

back to being Bryan?

Baby: Of course. What will it take

for you to feel like you’ve accomplished enough to go back?

Baby: I wanna be a

billionaire, that’s my goal. And I see an opportunity to do that in music, with

a lot of other ventures. That’s one of my goals in life. I don’t wanna be 50

and 60 and 70 years old and still doing music. And still in the buildings like

some of these old heads that be in these buildings and still tryna negotiate

with a youngster 20 years old. Man, I ain’t got time for that. In my latter

days, I just wanna live my life and be around my family and my kids man, help

them explore life. But I don’t wanna be no old man in a building, working with

no company. Nah, I’m not gonna do that. Some of these [guys], they 70, 80 years

old and they run the buildings. I don’t get that. You been there for so long,

you been doing it 40 years. So you feel like

you’re gonna get to a point where you’ll pass it off to someone else and that’s

how it should be?

Baby: Of course. I’m not

gonna be they age still doing that. I’m not gonna be old, still tryna do deals

with n****s half my age. I can’t do that. ‘Cause I wanna do better than all

them old heads done did before me. All of them. I wanna do more numbers than

them, I want my contracts to be bigger, I wanna do bigger deals, I wanna out do

all of them. And I’m in a position to out do them and get more money than they

ever did get. That’s my goal. They did it in they time and we doing it in

modern time, through a recession. How long do you

think the Cash Money brand will continue once you’re gone? What do you think

the legacy will be like?

Baby: The brand gonna be

around forever. Our children gonna eat off it while we dead. From the

accomplishments: the sales, the numbers; I want our doings to speak for us.

Look at our records, look at our sales, look at our ringtones. I don’t think it’s

a company that ever did it better than what we doing it. And we still young, my

son 26. His track record with music gonna be super long. I studied this s**t

before I got in it. I watched Russell, I watched Diddy, I watched Eazy, I

watched the Jermaines, the James Smiths, the Tony Drappers, all these dudes

that I looked up to. And I just felt like I could do it better than them, but I

knew that it would take time to accomplish what we tryna accomplish. ‘Cause I

felt like we had the music to do the s**t. We was brand new. And our thang just

been going forward since I started. Our goal was to reach where they was at,

and then take it farther. Do you have any


Baby: Nah, I don’t live life

with regrets. If I made a mistake, I made it. I’m human. That’s just life, we

all gone make them. We can’t take them back if we made them. I started this at

18. I was 20 years old with $40 million, straight out the projects. You liable

to make mistakes growing up in this business where nobody showed you nothing.

You went for what you thought was right or wrong. But it all paid off in the

end, and I think we got this s**t down pat, I don’t think it’s another company

that ever been done or did that done the s**t we tryna do. We tryna do that

Michael Jackson stuff over here. But of course,

the difference is, when Michael had people taking shots at him, it wasn’t in

the same realm. And you don’t see beef in any other genre the way you do in

Hip-Hop. With you guys, it seems like a new person every other month is taking

shots. How do you deal with that?

Baby: [Laughs] I really don’t

be giving a f**k. As long as it ain’t no threat to my family and my son and our

health is good, I don’t care what people say. I can’t live for everybody and

how they feel. That’s just they emotion. I can’t worry about that. That can’t

bother me. You know, some

people that come forth, it don’t always be about emotion. Sometimes it be


Baby: I mean, that’s life

too. It be like that sometimes. So what was

behind the whole lawsuit with Drama?

Baby: I think Drama just got

caught up. [BCD Music Group] was selling mixtapes, made a few million dollars

off of it, which is illegal. We never do mixtapes to sell ‘em, period. We give

mixtapes away. We believe in giving music away, staying fresh and letting

people hear it. I didn’t appreciate them selling that s**t, and when I found

out the bulk that they sold, I [couldn ’t] see them take nothing from me. Y’all

doing that illegal. I coulda fed my family. That don’t work for me. They lucky

I ain’t entertain they ass. Did the situation

affect your relationship with Drama?

Baby: Me and Drama one

"hunned." That ain’t interfere with our relationship. Drama got caught in that, I

made sure we took Drama out of that. I spoke with Drama a few times, and his

attorney talked to my attorney, and I made sure he was out of that equation. While we’re on

the topic, what’s your relationship with Manny Fresh?

Baby: I talk to him

constantly, once or twice a week. I call him, he calls me. Me and Fresh really

bonded again real tough after his sister got killed. ‘Cause you know my sister died

a year before that. When he lost his sister, even when I lost my sister, I think

that kinda really threw all that s**t out the window. Everything. It made me

feel life is short. And I raised them n****s, I brought them in this s**t and I

would like to see them be as successful as possible. I probably will bring Lil’

BG back though. We’ll work with him again. Do you see a

return to your original roster?

Baby: I wanna do that, ‘cause

that’ll bring closure on a lot of bulls**t for me. They definitely a Hot Boys

album, whenever Wayne get a minute to do it. They already done recorded some

songs. But for me, that’s something I wanna do. It’ll complete a piece of my

little puzzle. Are we gonna see

another Big Tymers album too?

Baby: I don’t know if we’ll

do another album, but Imma work with him on music. I think Fresh [is] a great

producer. With all the acts we have, I’m definitely gonna work with Fresh