A few weeks ago, Forbes published The Forbes Five, which estimated the net worth of hip hop's wealthiest moguls, and put Cash Money Records boss Bryan "Birdman" Williams in fourth place with $125 million. Just two weeks later, Williams announced that his label's most successful artist, Lil Wayne, had signed "probably the biggest deal ever in urban music" to deliver four more albums for the label, a deal that's been estimated as high as $150 million.
For all I know the timing is coincidental, and all is well in the very successful Cash Money/Young Money family. But the confluence of those two events made me wonder if perhaps it occurred to anyone, inside or outside the situation, that Lil Wayne, one of the biggest stars in the world, was not on the Forbes list, but his label boss and "father figure" mentor was. Over the years, many artists have left Cash Money amid accusations of inadequate financial compensation; several producers have sued the label for unpaid royalties. But through it all, Wayne has stayed loyal and presumably well paid, if apparently not necessarily moreso than the execs at his label (in the 2011 edition of the Forbes Cash Kings list, which estimates yearly earnings rather than net worth, Wayne and Birdman were tied for fourth place with equal amounts of income).More »
It's been almost 5 months, or 141 days, or 3384 hours, or 203,040 minutes since Lil Wayne got out of jail. And in that time, by our count, he's made 26 new musical appearances. A few of these might have been recorded before he went to jail (pre-probation-Wayne's maniacally hoarse voice generally being the tip-off), and many are remixes or features. But it still seems like a lot, and even if most aren't yet the monstrous sort of hits that he dominated the radio with pre-jail, they probably soon could be. Which is to say, it turns out post-jail Wayne is pretty much as good as pre-jail Wayne. To prove it, we've counted down our top ten, and rounded up the rest for your enjoyment.