If you think the music industry is the exclusive preserve of those gifted with velvety and melodious voices, then you haven’t met Birdman. Despite boasting of a famously-crooked voice, the American rapper has built a successful music career comprising of not less than four solo albums and millions of record sales.
The rapper, whose real name is Bryan Christopher Williams, has also collaborated with his older brother, Ronald Slim Williams, to establish the record label, Cash Money Records. The label has so far churned out several successful acts including Drake, Nicki Minaj, and of course, Lil Wayne.
All these have resulted in significant cash flow for the New Orleans native and he is living the life. There have however been accusations of misappropriation and legal disputes over his handling of funds as it relates to his record label.
A Breakdown of How Birdman Made His Money
The rapper now has a net worth running into tens of millions of dollars, but it wasn’t always so. Growing up in the Magnolia Projects in Central City, New Orleans, he had a rough upbringing. He took to petty crimes to make ends meet and was arrested on a number of occasions for robberies and selling/possession of illegal drugs. The young man ended up serving three years in a correctional center and another 18 months before being finally let go. He subsequently turned his sights to music and the rest, as they say, is history.
Income from Album Sales
Birdman joined the music industry and from 1998 to 2002, he formed the duo, Big Tymer, with producer and DJ, Mannie Fresh. He subsequently released his first album, How Ya Luv That?, and in 2002, he dropped a single titled I Got That Work. The song got the RIAA certification for selling more than a million copies in the US.
In the years that followed, the rapper released another album, Hood Rich (2002). Two singles from the album were critically acclaimed; Still Fly was nominated for a Grammy Award while Oh Yeah! received a Platinum certification after selling a million copies. In 2003, the label released Big Money Heavyweight which was certified Gold (500,000 copies sold) in the United State and while his partnership with Mannie Fresh seemed good, the DJ resigned from Cash Money Records in 2005.
Birdman changed his name from ‘Baby’ after his group, Big Tymers, broke up in 2005. His next album, Father and Son, was a collaboration with Lil Wayne, whom he refers to as his son owing to the fact that he discovered and took Wayne under his wing at an early age. Two singles; Pop Bottle and I Run This, from his fourth album, 5 * Stunna, with Wayne were a huge success. It sold 80,000 copies in its first week alone and made it to number 18 on Billboard 200.
Cash Money Records
Another major revenue earner for Birdman is Cash Money Records, the label he co-founded with his elder brother, Ronald Slim Williams, in 1991. To date, Cash Money has served as the launching pad of several renowned artists including the likes of Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, and Canadian sensation, Drake. Its music acts have accounted for 12 number-one albums on the Billboard 200.
They have also scored seven number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100. All these have translated into significant sales and the label is now regarded as one of the most successful in hip hop history. In April 2017, the label was awarded a plaque signifying that it had sold a billion units of songs. Such a momentous feat was of course celebrated by Birdman who declared that he had accomplished what he thought to be impossible.
Birdman is an enterprising individual who is always on the lookout for the next opportunity. The New Orleans native has tried his hands at the oil and gas business though the company is said to have folded up. He also founded a clothing line in 2016. The line featured t-shirts and hoodies and carried catchphrases from his controversial appearance on The Breakfast Club with Charlamagne Tha God. Even though the brand was motivated by a spat, it has nevertheless done well commercially and generated much income.
Counting Millions Amidst Accusations of Misappropriation
Birdman has an estimated net worth of from $80 to $100 million, making him one of the richest rappers in the world. He cherishes the luxurious life and has no hesitations about splashing out the cash on himself. Back in 2016, the rapper caused a small uproar when he mentioned that he sleeps on a pile of cash, amounting to $1 million, each night. He also stated that his bedsheets come from Versace and his mattress is thrice the size of a regular king-sized bed.
Such facts do not come as a surprise given that the rapper wears as much as half a million dollars worth of diamond Grillz in his mouth. He is however not all about an ostentatious lifestyle. He and his brother have set up a foundation to honor their late parents namely Johnny and Gladys Williams Foundation. The organization has hosted free health screenings and thanksgiving giveaways in New Orleans. They also made a donation of about $225,000 to offset the rents of poor families during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Despite these acts of generosity, there have been insinuations that Birdman has ripped off some of the artists under his label. Back in 2016, his protégé, Lil Wayne, alleged that the New Orleans native had misappropriated about a $100 million from a deal with Universal Music Group for distribution rights to artists under the YMCMB imprint. He also alleged that Birdman owed him millions of dollars in advance pay. All these caused embarrassments for the CEO as many, including Rick Ross, publicly asked him to pay what he owed. He, however, has kept his calm, allowing the courts to handle the matter.
Birdman Courted Controversy When He Was Spotted Kissing a Man
After a photo of Birdman and Lil Wayne kissing splashed on the internet, the question of whether the rapper is gay began to circulate. However, it is no longer news that both artistes share a father-son kind of relationship. Birdman also described the mouth to mouth kiss as innocent during an interview and said it was nothing more than a father and son expression of love.
That father and son relationship has however suffered in recent years as the duo embarked on a famous feud that spanned 2014 to 2018. Set off by allegations that Birdman was not giving Wayne his rightful entitlements, as well as trying to stifle his career, both sides filed lawsuits against each other. They were also diss tracks and reports of altercations in a club.
However, it all got to a head in July 2015 when an indictment claimed that the Cash Money CEO had tried to kill Wayne by orchestrating an attack on his tour bus. The whole thing could have resulted in another Biggie–Tupac carnage but the parties thankfully reconciled in March 2018. They were photographed hugging and discussing in a club and there have not been any more flare-ups since then.
His Engagement to Toni Braxton
The relationship between Birdman and famous singer, Toni Braxton started off as a rumor with the couple dropping hints at every event they attended. While the rumor of their new romance was mounting, none of them tried to squash it and Toni’s sister, Tamar Braxton, fueled the curiosity further when she shared a video of her testing out her new Bentley SUV, a gift from Birdman, in August 2016.
During a preview of a new Braxton Family Values episode, Toni described the rapper as an undercover gentleman who makes her feel adored. The rapper similarly responded in kind on The Wendy Williams Show, saying he loves her to death. The two music heavyweights are now officially a couple and have been so since May 2016. They got engaged in February 2018 and fans are eagerly awaiting their nuptials. In an interview in April 2020 on The Rick and Sasha Show, Braxton revealed that they want something moderate and that the wedding will definitely take place in 2020.