Speaking with the “Big Facts Podcast,” Birdman revealed that he had the opportunity to sign Ye to Cash Money Records when he was a producer, but he had to pass.
“Kanye West was with me before he was Kanye West,” said Birdman. “I knew he was special. I let him go.”
Mannie Fresh was the reason behind his decision. The New Orleans producer was already signed to Cash Money and Birdman wanted to remain loyal to his day one.
“Kanye came to me as a producer and I wasn’t gonna ever disrespect Mannie Fresh ’cause I started with Fresh,” he explained. “I wasn’t gonna play with Fresh ’cause Fresh was my day one.”
He “had to let Ye go,” but Kanye eventually signed with JAY-Z at Roc-A-Fella. “I flew him to Roc-A-Fella,” said Birdman. “And we always kept a bond, but he was with me at my house, living with me at my house.”
During the candid interview, the hip-hop mogul also revealed that he gave a combined $1.4 billion to his artists including Drake, Nicki Minaj, and Lil Wayne as part of his unprecedented 90/10 deal with Universal Music.
“We all become hundreds of millionaires,” he said. “When Universal gave me a bag, I can honestly say, I gave Wayne about $400 to $500 million. Drake got about $500 million and Nicki got about $300-400 million out my pocket, no cap.”