In the midst of scoring another mainstream hip-hop hit album ( Drake's "Take Care," which debuted with 631,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan) and preparing for another one ( Nicki Minaj's sophomore set, "Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded," due in February), Cash Money Records announced the addition of a pair of rap veterans -- Busta Rhymes and Mystikal -- to its roster on Nov. 16.
While Rhymes secured a four-album contract with Cash Money that includes physical distribution, he also inked a one-off digital distribution agreement with the newly launched Google Music. Cash Money co-founder/CEO Brian "Birdman" Williams says that a deal between Rhymes and Cash Money has been in the works since Rhymes departed Universal Motown in May, and that "E.L.E. 2: End of the World" is due in the first quarter. He adds that Rhymes has been furiously recording in Miami throughout November. Rhymes' Cash Money debut will follow a rejuvenating collaboration with Chris Brown and new labelmate Lil Wayne on Brown's 2011 hit, "Look at Me Now," which has sold 3 million copies, according to SoundScan. Rhymes and Brown recently reteamed for "Why Stop Now," a viral single released Nov. 16.
Meanwhile, Mystikal's sixth album is also expected early next year. The New Orleans rapper served a six-year prison stint for sexual battery and extortion that ended in 2010. Although he hasn't issued an album since 2001's "Tarantula," Williams envisions a return to the sound of his 2000 breakout album, "Let's Get Ready," which spawned hits like "Shake Ya Ass" and "Danger (Been So Long)" and has sold 2.2 million copies, according to SoundScan.
"These youngsters don't even know who he is, but when I listen to him rap, he's an animal," Williams says. "He and Busta are great talent to fit in with what we have. They're going to put up the numbers."