It’s no secret that with all of their past accomplishments, Cash Money Records has been in turmoil over the last few years. Earlier this month, Birdman took things too far and, in between his legal troubles with Lil Wayne, managed to take a photo in front of the gold-encrusted “YMCMB Vault.” We're guessing he motioned toward an intern, "Snap this one for the gram, pleighboi,” while he stood in front of the vault, proving that even when threatened with multi-million-dollar lawsuits, the company doesn’t believe in half-assing their loyal image to the fans.
To put things into context, Birdman and Cash Money Records are currently in the midst of an intense legal battle involving his adopted son Lil Wayne. The two former business partners are currently fighting for the release of Wayne’s Tha Carter V and $52 million in unearned royalties from Young Money artists, including Drake. Birdman’s vault selfie allegedly lead to a seemingly endless meeting with the execs at Universal, which should hopefully bode well for a possible settlement or at least the release of C5.
The real question is: “What the hell is inside of the vault?” If Birdman were to open it, would the money owed to producers like Jim Jonsin, Deezle, and Mannie Fresh flow out like the Hoover Dam broke? That’s at least enough money to lotion his hands after every rub…roughly.
The laundry list of lawsuits against Cash Money could presumably fill up a vault at this point. We’d like to believe that Birdman has kept every unfinished version of Tha Carter in here, including the unreleased fifth entry that Lil Wayne is currently suing his adoptive father to release. It’s probably in a box labeled “Carter V Outtakes” that looks sort of like the Ark of the Covenant from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Except your face doesn’t melt when you open it—instead, Lil Wayne just raps about eating vaginas.
The Lil Wayne wing of the YMCMB Vault is more than likely under foreclosure, as a skinnier, younger, and more outrageous rapper seeks to take up space there. It’s a sad story, but there’s no crying over spilled lean. “We da business,” as Birdman says.
Is it possible that Bow Wow’s unreleased Cash Money album is also in this vault, sitting 5 feet in the air where his small arms can’t reach? Anything is possible when it’s far away from our ears and safe from a 30k debut on the Billboard charts.
Perhaps the vault is predominantly dedicated to Drake and Nicki Minaj, the two breadwinners for the franchise at this point. All signs point to them not being paid either; Drake recently had a few lines about being fucked over on his new mixtape If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, saying things such as “envelopes in the mail let her open them, hoping for a check again ain’t no tellin.” It’s clear that the the favored children of the fairy Birdman would have their publishing locked away in the vault, cleaned spotless by Boo and Gotti, while Juvenile handles the daily upkeep of their plaques.
In reality, the actual use of the vault is not exciting in the least bit. According to Young Money Cash Money Senior Director of Publicity Vickie Charles, the content of the room is nothing more than a glorified conference room in the Cash Money quadrant of the Universal Republic building in New York City referred to as “The Vault.” The vault motif is a common theme for the company. Throughout the years, the Cash Money Grammy parties were held at The Lot, and patrons would enter the party through what was supposed to look like the doors to a vault.
The sad realization that the room that Birdman stood in front of was really just a room filled with tables and chairs brings us back to the real issue––Cash Money’s history of stiffing their artists is now front and center. The company that started out as a family is now just like any other business, and to Birdman it’s never personal. The hilariously out-of-touch selfie proved that: the loyalty and regal image of the company are cracking under the pressure, their family-oriented methods being exposed as nothing but fool’s gold.
Justin Davis is a writer living Los Angeles. Follow him @OGJohnny5.