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Birdman

The music mogul talks Instagram, speaking engagements, McQueen scarves, courage and Mobstyle

Bryan “Birdman” Williams has been a force in the music industry for over 20 years. He’s released five studio albums, but will go down in history as the co-founder and co-CEO of Cash Money Records, a label and movement responsible for some of music’s most popular artists, including ’90s star Juvenile, as well as Drake, Nicki Minaj and Tyga.

It has been two years, however, since Birdman lost the support of perhaps the biggest star of them all. In 2014, Lil Wayne aired his grievances with Birdman and Cash Money via Twitter. What was originally assumed by many to be a publicity stunt has snowballed into a battle. Lil Wayne has filed a lawsuit against the label that demands his release from his contract. And although tempers have fizzled on both sides, the two have yet to repair their relationship. Birdman, noted as one of the most ruthless negotiators in music, does ask that everyone respect, or respek his name — see his infamous Breakfast Club blowup that trended for hours on social platforms in April and inspired some hilarious memes. Now, the native New Orleanian is showcasing how he handles business on BET’s original series, Music Moguls. The show follows the lives of Birdman and three other hip-hop vets: Jermaine Dupri, Snoop Dogg and Roc-A-Fella co-founder Damon Dash. Birdman’s acting bug also prompted a cameo appearance in the season three premiere of Fox’s Empire. In his spare time, Birdman said, he enjoys jewelry shopping and spending time with his family. You can also catch him rewatching classic episodes of Sanford and Son.

Why Music Moguls?

At first, I really didn’t want to do it. Then I thought maybe it’ll be a good platform for some of my new talent. I’m really glad that I did do it. Jacquees, Nino, all them young boys that we have … I think I did the right thing.

What is one of your best experiences from the show so far?

Going to Brooklyn Law School and talking to the students … Just seeing the questions they ask, what they want to know about and what they’re intrigued by, what part of the game they want to know. That was the thing I liked and learned from.

Are you most about Twitter/Snapchat/Facebook or — what is your primary social tribe?

I try to do all of them, but I’m mostly on [Instagram].

What are you asked most by fans?

Basically Wayne. That’s a lot of the questions I’m asked about. Response? I give it to ’em what it really is.

What’s your current fashion obsession?

Scarves. I’ve been on my Alexander McQueen scarves a lot lately. And my Cartier glasses. I’m always on my jewelry game.

What’s the last show you binged through?

I’m a Fred Sanford-type guy. I watch [Redd Foxx as] Fred Sanford repeatedly, over and over and over. I got the DVDs if it ain’t on TV. He reminds me of my pops, so I watch [Sanford and Son] all day, every day.

What will you always be the champ of? Pranks?

I’m not that type of guy. I’m not a funny — I don’t play games in no kind of way, so it’ll have to be music for me.

Which pro athlete would you never want to trade places with?

That’s a hell of a question, because you got the ups and downs of any game. I really don’t know.

If you could go to dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be?

My mama [who died when he was 2 years old].

What is the last thing you Googled? Why?

Damn, I’m about to Google something now. [First Take’s] Max Kellerman was telling me about this rap group in New York, Mobstyle. I’m definitely gonna Google it.

Who would you want to play you in your biopic?

Hmm. Maybe, I would like for my lil’ nephew, Peter, my sister’s son … For him to be me, he wouldn’t have to act because he studies me. He knows everything about me.

What was the last concert you went to? What was the first?

My last show was probably a Nicki show. My daughter, my son, they fans, so it was probably a Nicki show. My first show? That goes way, way back. In New Orleans, they used to do these festivals. All the time they had Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Kool & the Gang … we used to sneak in there and go check them out.

What’s the last stamp on your passport?

I went to the Bahamas or Jamaica. Somewhere over there.

What songs are at the top of your playlists these days?

Jacquees. I listen to a lot of my own [artists]. I never try to be cliché, so I don’t study other people. Don’t get me wrong, I like 50 Cent. He got this song called I’m the Man and that’s one of my favorite songs right now.

Where does your courage come from?

Besides being in my bloodline, just how I grew up. Coming up in the streets is gonna make you or break you, and I think it made me.

Maya Jones is an associate editor at The Undefeated. She is a native New Orleanian who enjoys long walks down Frenchmen Street and romantic dates to Saints games.