In a recent interview on Steve-O’s ‘Wild Ride!’ podcast, Birdman stated that his connection with Universal Music allowed him to retain full ownership of his masters and publishing.

In an era when many artists are quick to criticize their labels, rapper Birdman recently highlighted how his relationship with Universal Music Group (UMG) has allowed him to accumulate fortune while maintaining full ownership of his masters and publishing.

The debate, which took place on “Jackass” star Steve-O’s “Wild Ride!” podcast, began with Steve-O congratulating Birdman on Cash Money Records’ sales of over one billion CDs, for which he received a plaque in 2017.

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Birdman claimed that, like many musicians, he knew virtually nothing about the economic side of the music industry when he initially entered the scene in 1991, but that didn’t stop him from keeping control of his own music and publishing rights.

“I did own everything,” he informed Steve-O. “I never allowed any of the labels to possess anything. Universal never owned anything. So, once I figured it out, I went ahead and determined what was missing and what was lost, because we always owned everything. Even today, I own 100% of my company. I own 100% of my master’s degrees.”

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That wasn’t always the case; Birdman signed a distribution deal with Universal in 1998 after learning more about the publishing industry. But he appreciates that Universal did not take advantage of his ignorance.

“When I went to [Universal], I ain’t even know about publishing and all that,” Birdman stated. “I don’t know about any of that. “I went to them with an attorney — whatever his name was — and I was just like, ‘I ain’t trying to give up nothing.’ ‘Cause I felt like I already lost everything; I lost my family.” So I said, “This is what I want to do; I want to own my s—t.” I’m going to own all of my s—t.

Birdman claimed that he has witnessed several labels take advantage of other artists and did not want the same thing to happen to him or anyone else on Cash Money Records.

“I thought I was doing it for everybody that it already happened to,” he said. “So I’m going to make sure this doesn’t happen to me. […] But we will make mistakes because we are human. We’re young, and if we come into a lot of money at a young age, we’ll make a lot of mistakes.”

The rapper decided that his experience in prison as a youngster improved his business skills and encouraged him to take the business aspect of his music career more seriously. “It helped me become a better person. It changed how I saw life. Because I was young and inexperienced in the trenches, I saw what it could mean for me if I wasn’t intelligent and a businessman. It prompted me to change my life.