"He sounds brand new to me," Birdman tells Billboard.com. "There's a new energy... just a different energy. He can still rap his ass off, but he took his raps to another level. To me, he went back to that traditional raw Cash Money music, just raw beats, 808s popping off and Wayne rapping, hard. It really sounds great to me."
Birdman says Wayne's eight-month incarceration in 2010 may have given him the rapper a new resolve and purpose. "He got to sleep for eight months," he explains, "and I think the rest gave him another energy, and he's pouring it all out through his music." And that music is apparently still coming, even though the deadline for turning in "Tha Carter IV" is nearing.
"Really the hardest part of Wayne's albums is picking the songs, because he has so many great records and while we narrow it down he'll still be recording," Birdman says. "Wayne will change a song and change his mind right to the end, so we're never done 'til it's done -- and even then we're still recording and working on the next album. But that's OK; our last songs will always be our biggest songs, so we work all the way 'til the end."
Birdman says "The Carter IV" will feature appearances by most of the Cash Money crew -- including himself, Drake, Nicki Minaj, Mack Maine and Tyga -- while Rick Ross is at this point the only outsider involved in the album. "He kept it to the family," Birdman notes. "It's basically just the team."
Once "The Carter IV" is wrapped, Birdman says he and Wayne plan to proceed on a sequel to their 2006 collaboration "Like Father, Like Son." "We're looking to do that in December some time, after we all drop our solos albums and go on tour," he says. "We have a lot of songs we did before (Wayne) went (to jail), and we've been working since he came home. All we've got to do is pick. And Wayne likes to be fresh with our music, so we might wait... and just knock out 20 songs right quick and put those on the album."
Birdman, meanwhile, is "kind of finished" with his next album, "Bigga Than Life," which is due out July 7. That said, he adds that "we're still recording. I don't have to turn it in 'til next month, so we continue to record, 'cause that's how we work. I'm content with what I have now, though." The first single from the set will be "Why You Mad?," which Birdman describes as "clubbish, uptempo, hot" with guest appearances from Lil Wayne and Minaj. Other Cash Money artists and Game will also appear on the album.
Cash Money is planning for a busy year, too, which will also include releases by Drake, Minaj, Kevin Rudolf, Lil Twist, Mack Maine, Shanell and Tyga. "It feels like a new excitement around here," Birdman reports. "We had Nicki blast off, Drake blast off, Wayne's back...It just feels like a whole new excitement around here. It's a real family, a team. We look after each other and are there for each other. We dedicate our life to this, and we make sacrifices for success. There's no stopping with us."