Outside of occasional tweets, rumored lawsuits, and lyrical jabs, Lil Wayne has been fairly quiet about his contentious two year dispute with Birdman and Cash Money Records—but manager Cortez Bryant was willing to sit down with Rap Radar podcast for a sprawling conversation that shed some light on the situation.
“We were ready to put out Tha Carter V,” Bryant said, explaining what initially sparked the dispute back in 2014. “We put out ‘Believe Me’ as a single before we put out the record […] it’s never been a situation [with Cash Money] where I would have to worry about anything financial. They were great with the checks because we’d come with a plan, I’d lay it out to them, they cut the check […] but this time, once we put it out, the check didn’t come.”
Without the advance money necessary to get in the studio and finish the album, Wayne and Cortez started looking for other options. Linking up with Google, they devised a plan to fund the project through streaming services (which were still in their fledgling beginning stages). Unfortunately, Birdman and Cash Money rejected the plan.
“This was before streaming really hit. We had a deal cut with Google where they were going to back the album and we were really going to be able to give Carter V away for free, streaming,” Cortez explains. “The deal was lucrative. When I presented it to Slim and Baby, they didn’t get it. They didn’t get streaming. They went to the powers that be, the label was against it because they hadn’t put their hands in the [streaming services’] pockets yet, they had no control over it, and they basically told me we can’t put the album out. And when I had to tell Wayne that, he was like…what? He was like, ‘You can’t stop me, you can’t hold me back, my fans don’t deserve this and I’m about to air it out.'”
At this point, the dispute became public and things spiraled out of control. Lil Wayne took to Twitter to explain that he wanted out of his record deal. From that point, he released an album called Free Weezy on his own, which made tensions worse following a cease and desist order. Bryant thinks that Cash Money owes Wayne over $50 million, including unpaid balances from Wayne's Cash Money Records imprint, Young Money Entertainment: “It’s probably that number and more now. With Drake’s albums coming out this year? It’s probably more than that. That pot is big."
As for the current status of Tha Carter V, Bryant says it's finished—and it's incredible.
“He felt like it was important that this one be the one,” Bryant explained. “The music is incredible, it’s done. It’s done. It is incredible so I don’t want to put it out until I’m sure that it could be properly marketed and supported the right way… The most important thing for Lil’ Wayne is having his music out the correct way. He cares about his fans, the people that built him. He’s giving back to them for the career that they’ve allowed him to have for 20 years.”
Watch Bryant break down Wayne's current relationship with Cash Money above and listen to the full interview below.