As friend, collaborator and label chief, Bryan "Birdman" Williams is happy to see Lil Wayne free from jail, back on the road and back to making new music again.
"We take pride in what we do," says Birdman, 42, the New Orleans native who co-founded and operates the Cash Money Records imprint that Wayne, among others, records for. "Every time we go out and play, we know it's a blessing. But by him being gone and coming back, that makes it even more special this time."
Lil Wayne (real name Dwayne Carter, Jr.) spent eight months in New York's Rikers Island prison last year for a weapons possession conviction. While in jail he released one album, "I Am Not a Human Being," while this year he'll celebrate his freedom with "Tha Carter IV," which comes out May 16 as the follow-up to his 2008 Grammy Award-winning "Tha Carter III."
"It's a new Wayne," reports Birdman, who appears on the album. "He sounds brand new to me. I think the rest gave him another energy. He got to sleep for eight months, and he's pouring it all out through his music. He took his raps to another level, just back to that raw, traditional Cash Money music."
"The Carter IV" is the spearhead of a motherlode Birdman's company will be dropping on the world this year. His own album, "Bigga Than Life," is due out July 7, and in December he and Lil Wayne are planning to bring out a sequel to 2006's "Like Father, Like Son." Other Cash Money artists -- including Drake, Nicki Minaj, Kevin Rudolf, Lil Twist, Mack Maine, Shanell and Tyga -- also have releases set for 2011.
"I believe in family," Birdman explains, "and that's what we have around here is a family, a team. Everybody looks after each other. It's a domino effect. That's important to us; we look after each other and are there for each other. We dedicate our life to this, and we make sacrifices for success. There's no stopping with us."
Birdman performs with Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross and Travis Barker & Mix Master Mike at 7 p.m. Saturday, April 2, at the Palace, Lapeer Road at I-75, Auburn Hills. Tickets are $49.75-$110.75. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
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