For the better part of 2015, the rising tension between Young Thug, Lil Wayne and Birdman has been a publicly broadcast family feud between a mentor and his quarreling “sons.” Lil Wayne was fighting for his independence, trying to stop himself from becoming irrelevant musically, while Thug just seemed indifferent to it all while trolling on Instagram.
Within the past few weeks however, the story has taken a disturbing turn. Last week, Birdman and Young Thug were named in an indictment against the man who reportedly fired shots at Lil Wayne’s tour bus in April. This has lead many people to wonder where it all went wrong, just how far back the schism between Wayne and Birdman began, and how Young Thug fits into the mess. Billboard’s created a handy timeline that points out the parallels between Birdman’s two prodigal sons in the hopes of getting to the bottom of this truly heartbreaking drama.
February 2005 — After a lengthy bidding war, Lil Wayne re-signs with Cash Money Records, turning down a potential relationship with Jay Z‘s Rocafella Records. He signed a long term deal with Birdman, that came with his own label, Young Money Records.
February 2011 — In an interview posted on Youtube, a 19-year-old Young Thug predicted that he would one day sign to Young Money Records with Lil Wayne.
August 2011 — Lil Wayne dropped Tha Carter IV. It sold 964,000 copies in the first week. It’d soon look to be like the last Carter album he would release on Cash Money Records.
January 2014 — With his singles “Stoner” and “Danny Glover/2 Bitches” buzzing with artists like Drake and Kanye West, Young Thug gave one of his first interviews since 2011. He said that he’d rather work with Lil Wayne more than Michael Jackson.
February 2014 — Young Thug told Mass Appeal that he signed with Cash Money Records, sparking a lot of confusion as to what label he was really signed to between 1017 Records/Atlantic Records and Cash Money. Thug was also seen all over All Star Weekend (which was in New Orleans that year) with Birdman and Lil Wayne.
— Young Thug ? (@youngthug) February 5, 2014
— Young Thug ? (@youngthug) February 15, 2014
March 2014 — Young Money and Cash Money stood united at The Illmore event at SXSW. It would be one of the last times people saw Birdman and Lil Wayne together. Lil Wayne also seemingly welcomed Thug onto the team with open arms by bringing him out to perform his single “2 Bitches.”
May 2014 — Birdman explains in an interview that he didn’t officially manage Young Thug, but he planned to bring him to YMCMB soon. This raised even more questions as to the actual home of the buzzing rapper. A Buzzfeed article, published a few weeks prior, revealed uncomfortable details surrounding Thug’s signing to Atlantic Records, stating that he was dumped on the label as a product of his allegiance with Gucci Mane’s 1017 Brick Squad label, and his own ignorance about how label deals work. His binding production deal was said by a source to be worth a measly $15,000 advance.
June 2014 — Young Thug, Rich Homie Quan, and Birdman released the single “Lifestyle” under the “Rich Gang” moniker. The song, and accompanying music video, would go on to become a Billboard Top 100 hit and viral phenomenon.
June 2014 — After he announced a joint tour with Drake for the fall called the Lil Wayne vs Drake Tour, Lil Wayne dropped another buzz record titled “Krazy.” It didn’t reach the heights of “Believe Me,” which continued to garner buzz without a video and seemingly with no support from Cash Money Records.
June 2014 — Thug told MTV News that he was signed only to YMCMB as Birdman looked on.
August 2014 — Lil Wayne released yet another buzz single for Tha Carter V titled “Grindin.” This song also featured Drake, and wasn’t received as well as “Believe Me.” A video for the single has yet to be released.
August 2014 — Lil Wayne announced the release date for Tha Carter V: October 28. Still no video for “Believe Me,” the album’s lead single.
September 2014 — With majority of his support geared towards non-Cash Money artists Young Thug and Rich Homie Quan, Birdman begins a huge campaign leading to the release of the critically acclaimed Rich Gang: Tha Tour, Vol. 1. The mixtape didn’t feature any appearances by Cash Money Records artists. In fact, it seemed like Birdman was planning to either dissolve or move away from Cash Money in this period. He no longer mentioned Cash Money artists that were signed to the label. When former Hot Boys rapper Juvenile re-signed with the label, the artwork for the single “Show Me Love” (which featured Drake, ironically) had “Rich Gang” front and center.
Birdman promoted “Rich Gang” in name and in music through a catchy vocal drop that could be heard on nearly every song Thug or Quan appeared on as well. (This could have been his way of getting a feature credit also, as he’s featured on nearly every song on the tape, even if he doesn’t vocally show up with a verse.) His new clothing line had no reference to Cash Money or even Young Money. The mixtape also received a huge push that included videos but not an actual tour, which raised more questions than anything else considering the name. The mixtape acted as a prelude to the upcoming Rich Gang 2 album, which was supposed to be released before 2014 was over.
October 2014 — Young Thug told MTV that he planned on doing the ultimate homage to his idol by naming his album Tha Carter VI. He also said that “[Wayne did] 1-5… I’m going to do 6-10.” Birdman was present, of course, and didn’t say anything.
October 2014 — Young Thug and Lil Wayne released their first collaboration together titled “Take Kare,” for the (now canceled) Rich Gang 2 album. As of today, it is also their last collaboration.
October 2014 — After a few weeks of silence, Lil Wayne formally pushed back Tha Carter V in a video blog to his fans. His reasoning? “I’ve been recording too much.” In order to “not cheat” fans, Wayne announced that Tha Carter V would be split into two parts, with the first dropping on Dec. 9. Wayne then leaked yet another buzz single titled “Gotti,” which featured The LOX.
November 2014 — LondonOnDaTrack, Young Thug’s longtime friend and producer, posted a picture of Wayne and Thug in the studio (with Birdman in the background), which implied that they were making more music together.
December 2014 — Days before its release, Lil Wayne confirmed what we all knew but were secretly afraid to admit: Tha Carter V wasn’t coming out… at least not any time soon. In a string of tweets, Wayne says that Birdman refused to release it, and he’s a “prisoner” to the label.
To all my fans, I want u to know that my album won’t and hasn’t been released bekuz Baby & Cash Money Rec. refuse to release it.
— Lil Wayne WEEZY F (@LilTunechi) December 4, 2014
I want off this label and nothing to do with these people but unfortunately it ain’t that easy
— Lil Wayne WEEZY F (@LilTunechi) December 4, 2014
Lil Wayne’s manager, Cortez Bryant, told TMZ at first that Wayne wasn’t leaving the label. He then told TMZ that he was being “sarcastic,” and that the situation between Lil Wayne and Cash Money Records was “serious.”
January 2015 — Lil Wayne released Sorry 4 The Wait 2, a mixtape filled with scathing disses at Birdman and Cash Money Records. A few days later he filed a lawsuit against Cash Money Records for $51 million, claiming he was owed for the recording and completion of Tha Carter V, as well as monetary compensation for Drake and Nicki Minaj. Birdman didn’t respond.
March 2015 — Young Thug embarks on the “Rodeo” tour with Travi$ Scott. Birdman joined them on nearly every stop during the tour, performing a medley of old Cash Money songs.
April 2015 — Young Thug announced Carter 6 mixtape on Instagram by showing off its provocative cover:
Two days later, Lil Wayne responded to the announcement by dissing Young Thug at a show by saying that people shouldn’t listen to people who “pose naked on their album covers”:
Young Thug responded on Instagram and said that he would never go back and forth with Wayne, who he considered his “idol”:
April 2015 — Lil Wayne allegedly disses Young Thug again when saying “ain’t no motherfuckin’ such thing as Carter 6” at one of his Release Partiez show in Colombus, Ohio.
April 2015 — Days before its release, Young Thug said, in a now deleted Instagram post, that he was forced to rename the release from Carter 6 to simply Barter 6. Thug and his friends (including Jimmy “PeeWee” Winfrey) were visibly incensed about the change. This post would be the first of many antagonistic posts against Wayne, as Thug boasts that the first show he would do in support for the mixtape would be in Wayne’s hometown of Hollygrove, Louisiana:
April 2015 — Barter 6 is released.
April 2015 — Thug kept his promise, and performed in Louisiana. He didn’t receive a hero’s welcome, and was booed while onstage.
Coincidentally, on the same night Lil Wayne was performing in Thug’s hometown of Atlanta, his tour bus was shot at on the highway.
May 2015 — Young Thug does an interview with NDO radio confirming that he’s signed to 300 Entertainment, not Cash Money/Rich Gang, effectively ending the run of the troubled trio. He also further cooled down the relationship with Birdman with the interesting comment that he and the label owner are merely friends. He doesn’t miss the opportunity to mention Lil Wayne however; he said that he was planning on naming his next project Tha Carter V. He seemed perturbed about Wayne’s album not being out as he said “I don’t know what the fuck they doing… so I’m going to put the motherfucker out for him.” Homage, or trolling?
May 2015 — Jimmy “Peewee” Winfrey is arrested on charges of being responsible for shooting up Lil Wayne’s tour bus in April. He is held without bond. Peewee is allegedly the guy holding the assault rifle in Thug’s Instagram video before Barter 6‘s release.
July 2015 — Lil Wayne released his Free Weezy Album on Jay Z’s Tidal music platform. Was that a jab at Birdman? Birdman had a reported rivalry with Jay for quite some time, stemming from comments Birdman said about Jay not being better than Lil Wayne, and not making as much money as Cash Money Records. The comments caused a small back and forth between Wayne and Jay on wax, including raps on Watch The Throne and Carter IV.
A few days later, when asked about Young Thug on a radio interview, Lil Wayne said that he “appreciates” Thug for being a huge fan, and for choosing to name his album Carter VI. “I’d have to be a monster to just overlook that,” he added. It seemed like the issue between the two was finally dying down.
July 2015 — After being told that he couldn’t ride his Hovertrax scooter in the mall, Young Thug reportedly threatened to shoot a mall officer in the face outside of Dunwoody’s Perimeter Mall in Georgia.
July 2015 — Young Thug is arrested for “terroristic threats” stemming from the July 7 mall incident. He was hit with additional drugs and weapons charges as well, after police searched his home.
July 2015 — Young Thug and Birdman are named in an indictment (but not charged) against Winfrey, who allegedly shot at Lil Wayne’s tour bus in April. The most important allegations in the indictment are that Winfrey called Thug before the shooting, and Birdman afterward. Prosecutors said that along with being a high-ranking member of the Bloods, Thug sent thinly-veiled shots at Wayne in the song and video for “Halftime.” The allegations are shaky at best, especially those regarding “Halftime.” The song leaked months before it officially became a single on Barter 6. The implication in itself is a strange twist on the story, which reached a scary turn just weeks after Thug and Wayne had seemingly ended their stand off. Birdman has stayed silent.
July 2015 — Young Thug was released on $10,000 bail. A court date has not been set yet. Birdman finally responds — to Lil Wayne’s lawsuit, that is — by suing Jay Z’s Tidal music platform for $50 Million for releasing the FWA album a few weeks prior. He claims Cash Money has exclusive rights to Wayne’s music.