Tha Carter V dropped on Sept. 28, 2018 and promptly sent New Yorkers into spasmodic Harlem Shakes with the Swizz Beatz-produced “Uproar,” took falsetto Kenny near the top of the Hot 100 with “Mona Lisa,” and brought Nivea back on “Dope New Gospel.” Of course, a conversation about Tha Carter V isn’t complete if we’re just talking about the hits. This is a project that suffered four years of delays and dissolved one of hip-hop’s tightest bonds.
Lil Wayne was just 9 years old when he met his surrogate father and label boss Bryan “Birdman” Williams. You’ve probably heard what happened next: Juvenile’s “Cash Money Records taking over for the '99 & the 2000” was a legit prophecy, and the label became one of the most dominant of the 21st century. Lil Wayne became hip-hop’s most prolific superstar of the late aughts, before signing the following decade’s biggest superstars, Drake and Nicki Minaj. Lil Wayne and Birdman’s commercial peak came with 2008’s Tha Carter III, and unless there’s some big unforeseen change in music consumption on the way, that will likely be the last hip-hop album to earn over $1 million in pure album sales in its first week.
That unmatched success and their openly familial bond is what made their very public falling out over the delay of Tha Carter V so disheartening. On Jan. 13, 2015, Lil Wayne announced a $51 million lawsuit against Cash Money. The following three years would include a bus shooting, mid-concert “fuck Cash Money” disses, we’re-cool-but-not-really public hugs, and desperate tweets hinting at retirement.
So when we victoriously Harlem Shake in unison, it’s because it has been a long road. Take a look back at it with this comprehensive timeline of Lil Wayne’s beef with Birdman and his now former label.
Dec. 4, 2014: Lil Wayne calls out Birdman over 'Tha Carter V' delay.
The first cracks in the foundation appear after Lil Wayne expresses his frustration with his long-time label Cash Money Records on Twitter. At this point, his album Tha Carter V is slated to drop on Dec. 9, but Wayne claims Birdman has forced him to delay the project again. (It had been delayed previously, as had been the case for other projects in his career.) "I want off this label and nothing to do with these people but unfortunately it ain't that easy," he writes. "I am a prisoner and so is my creativity."
Dec. 5, 2014: Wayne's manager Cortez Bryant claims everything is good between the parties.
Despite the harsh words from Wayne the day prior, his manager Cortez Bryant tells TMZ that everything is good between Birdman and Wayne. "I'm smiling, what are you talking about? I wouldn't be out in the club right now," he says.
Dec. 6, 2014: Lil Wayne tells concert crowd "I'm f***ed up in a bad situation, but I will be out of it soon."
Wayne sounds very unhappy with his label situation at Vice's 20th anniversary party in Brooklyn, where he's one of many musical guests. He tells the crowd that he's "fucked up in a bad situation, but I will be out of it soon."
Dec. 12, 2014: Mack Maine claims 'Tha Carter V' is definitely coming out soon.
Jan. 13, 2015: Cortez Bryant slams Cash Money, saying Lil Wayne put the label on his back.
Jan. 25, 2015: Lil Wayne announces $51 million lawsuit against Cash Money.
Feb. 19, 2015: Wayne says he and Birdman are not on speaking terms in 'Rolling Stone' interview.
March 14, 2015: Lil Wayne disses Birdman in Young Money's "Up Next" cypher.
"Young motherfucking Money/These my motherfucking brothers not my fucking hubbies," he raps. "And sang 'Hit Em Up' to my daddy's bitch ass."
April 2, 2015: Wayne yells "F*** Cash Money" on stage in Jacksonville, Florida.
April 7, 2015: Rumors surface that Wayne is dropping his lawsuit.
April 26, 2015: Shots fired at Lil Wayne's tour bus in Atlanta.
May 26, 2015: Wayne disses Cash Money on his verse on A$AP Rocky's "M$."
"I love my BMs/I love my YM/Ain't no more CM/Let's pluck out the stems," he raps, fueling further the perception that he's permanently done with Cash Money.
May 29, 2015: Young Thug affiliate Peewee Roscoe arrested for shooting up Lil Wayne's tour bus.
Atlanta's Jimmy Winfrey, better known to the world as the rapper Peewee Roscoe, is arrested in connection with the shooting of Lil Wayne's tour bus. Wayne and Birdman's beef was concerning at first, but this brings things to another level. Wayne is currently embroiled in an on-again off-again beef with rising Atlanta rapper Young Thug, who is working with Birdman on his Rich Gang project. Thug drew some anger for trying to name his project Carter 6, although he claimed it was simply in homage of his idol Lil Wayne. The Thug-Roscoe connection draws much suspicion, especially considering Roscoe had recently appeared in Thug's "Halftime" video; he's holding an assault rifle. The indictment claims that Roscoe "carried out" Thug's threats of violence.
June 8, 2015: Wayne signs with global royalties company Kolbalt Neighboring Rights.
June 14, 2015: Lil Wayne signs streaming deal with Tidal.
June 22, 2015: Wayne tries to oust Birdman from Young Money, saying he's fearful Drake and Nicki Minaj will leave.
July 4, 2015: Lil Wayne releases his 'Free Weezy' album via Tidal.
Originally announced back in February 2015 and referenced heavily by Lil Wayne since, his Free Weezy album becomes available on Tidal. The 15-track album features appearances from Wiz Khalifa, Young Jeezy, Cory Gunz, and more. “Rest in peace to the Cash Money Weezy, gone but not forgotten," he declares on "He's Dead." The album receives mixed critical reviews, but racks up over 10 million streams in its first week of availability.
July 12, 2015: Birdman throws a drink on Lil Wayne during a Miami club performance.
July 15, 2015: Indictment claims Birdman and Young Thug conspired to kill Lil Wayne in tour bus shooting.
In perhaps the craziest moment of the beef thus far, an indictment from Cobb County, Georgia claims that Birdman and Young Thug conspired with Peewee Roscoe to kill Lil Wayne in his April tour bus shooting. Although neither are formally charged, the indictment highlights a connection between Roscoe, Thug, and Birdman, including Roscoe's appearance in Young Thug's "Halftime" video. Roscoe's phone records show that he was in contact with Birdman and Young Thug directly before and after the shooting.
July 16, 2015: Birdman sues Jay Z and Tidal for $50 million for streaming 'Free Weezy.'
July 28, 2015: Birdman denies being involved in tour bus shooting, says Lil Wayne means the world to him.
Veteran hip-hop journalist and radio personality Angie Martinez sits down with Birdman for a wide-ranging interview—his first since the drama with Lil Wayne began—and he speaks openly about the love he has for Wayne. "Wayne is my son no matter what. That ain't never gonna change," Birdman says. He vehemently denies having anything to do with Peewee Roscoe shooting up Wayne's tour bus, saying "that's the craziest shit I ever heard in my life."
The interview turns out to be fairly confusing, as he sidesteps a number of questions about Wayne's contract dispute and denies being involved in his own lawsuit against Tidal. Outside of Wayne, Birdman also claims that Drake and Nicki Minaj are very happy with their current contracts and would stay with the label even if Wayne left. Martinez does her best to coax answers out of him, but Birdman repeatedly insists that Wayne is free to leave the label at any time and that he's not standing in the way.
Aug. 6, 2015: Peewee Roscoe blames Birdman for the tour bus shooting.
Nov. 20, 2015: Peewee Roscoe gets slapped with a 10-year prison sentence.
Jan. 1, 2016: Birdman and Lil Wayne reunite at Drake's New Year's Eve party.
In the first signs of a potential reconciliation since the beef began over a year prior, both Wayne and Birdman are seen on Drake's Instagram at his New Year's Eve party. Later, reports emerge claiming that Mack Maine brokered a peace agreement between the two by setting up a two-hour phone call prior to Drake's party. Although Lil Wayne is not yet ready to drop his lawsuit, reports suggest that the two are finally willing to work together to squash the beef.
Jan. 18, 2016: Birdman and Lil Wayne appear onstage together in Miami.
Jan. 20, 2016: Birdman and Wayne hit the studio together.
March 28, 2016: Wayne files a $40 million lawsuit against Universal Music Group.
May 12, 2016: Wayne raps about Cash Money on 'Coloring Book.'
May 23, 2016: Lil Wayne yells "F*** Cash Money" again during a show.
June 29, 2016: Birdman hints towards reconciliation during an interview with Big Boy.
September 3, 2016: Lil Wayne hints at retirement in a series of tweets.
September 13, 2016: Wayne opens up about retirement tweets.
September 14, 2016: Lil Wayne refuses to let Birdman release ‘Tha Carter V.’
September 18, 2016: Lil Wayne accuses Birdman of taking over half of the $100 Million Young Money advance.
September 26, 2016: Judge sides with Lil Wayne on his accusation of Birdman.
November 21, 2016: Birdman calls off negotiations with Lil Wayne.
February 3, 2017: Birdman claims he's going to share 500 unreleased Cash Money songs for next 5 years.
July 5, 2017: Lil Wayne accuses Cash Money and Universal of preventing him from getting money off Drake.
August 19, 2017: Lil Wayne Says He Can Release 'Tha Carter V' Whenever He Wants.
October 11, 2017: Birdman sends out an open threat to people saying he should pay Lil Wayne.
Birdman airs out his feelings on Instagram Live about opinions that he and Cash Money owes Wayne restitution. He says, “I be hearing all you n****s talking about this Lil Wayne shit. Lil Wayne this, Lil Wayne that. Bitch, Lil Wayne my son. I raised him. He ain’t have nothing. I brought him to be something and got something. Bitch, you don’t think I’m gonna make sure he straight? Suck a n***a dick, bitch. I'ma show all you pussy ass niggas that ever got in my business.”
Feb. 22, 2018: Birdman says ‘Tha Carter V’ will be out by the end of the year.
March 5, 2018: Lil Wayne maybe disses Birdman again on “Vizine.”
March 12, 2018: Lil Wayne and Birdman hug it out.
March 26, 2018: Birdman’s Instagram shows he’s on good terms with Weezy.
March 28, 2018: Lil Wayne and Birdman’s negotiations reportedly get heated once more.
April 2, 2018: Birdman says lawsuit is “affecting our kids.”
June 7, 2018: Lil Wayne and Birdman finally reach a settlement.
June 29, 2018: Conviction overturned for Lil Wayne’s bus shooting.
Aug. 19, 2018: Cash Money sues Cortez Bryant for allegedly siphoning Drake’s profits.
Aug. 26, 2018: Birdman apologizes to Lil Wayne.
With a lawsuit behind him and an album to drop, Lil Wayne speaks with Billboard about the aftermath of fighting Birdman in the biggest battle of his career. It turns out things have been pretty chill between them: The story says they’re back to talking every day, “usually about the Red Sox.”