25. Ronald “Slim” Williams and Bryan “Birdman” Williams
Cash Money Records
Money. Power. Respect.
Cash Money is hotly rumored to be at the center of a bidding war. Why? The label’s contract with Universal Music Group is about up. Will the label stay with UMG, its longtime home, especially now since one of the managers of Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne and Drake-Blueprint Group’s Gee Roberson (see No. 59)-is now ensconced at Geffen? Or will Cash Money end up at Sony with CEO Doug Morris (No. 5), who brought Cash Money Records into the major-label system? Why the fuss? Because brothers Bryan “Baby” and Ronald “Slim” Williams (pictured) have had a hand in selling more than 75 million records.
In just the past five years, the Williams brothers have propelled their imprint into a chart-topping powerhouse based on a relentless release schedule packed with hip-hop superstars–and a lucrative financial foundation they laid a decade earlier. In 1998, the New Orleans natives signed a $30 million pressing and distribution contract with Universal that entitled Cash Money to 85% of its royalties and 50% of its publishing revenue. That deal afforded Cash Money a virtually unparalleled level of independence and ensured that as Lil Wayne emerged as a global pop star.