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.