If you can believe it (I can’t), a documentary on Cash Money Records, the legendary, New Orleans-based hip hop label that rose to prominence in the ‘90s and birthed the careers of some of rap’s biggest stars—Drake, Lil Wayne, Juvenile, and Nicki Minaj, to name a few—is real, and will arrive Friday, February 16, according to Apple Music. It’s called Before Anythang: The Cash Money Story, was originally rumored in 2016, given an incorrect release date of May 12, 2017, and I’m ready for it to exist. Why? Well, let me tell you: it’s so gratifying to finally see Cash Money placed in the spotlight...but I have my concerns.
The trailer, (seen above), gives me pause. The documentary is narrated by rapper/Cash Money co-founder Bryan “Birdman” Williams. He and his brother, Ronald “Slim” Williams, the other co-founder of the label, are executive producers of the film. Naturally, I’m concerned other members of the Cash Money family will not be given space to voice their opinions and experiences—particularly Lil Wayne, whose been in a contractual feud with Birdman and Cash Money since 2014.
That’s not all: a few infographics in the trailer describe Cash Money Records as having “one billion records sold,” dubbing it “a billion dollar empire.” Both are inaccurate—last year Forbes determined Birdman’s net worth to be $110 million, and only major labels rank in billions—Cash Money is only a fraction of major Universal Music Group.
So, what is the film’s goal? Documentaries, by definition, document some aspect of reality. Will this? Will Before Anythang cover the financial drama between Birdman and Lil Wayne, the very same that prevented the release of Wayne’s Tha Carter V—which still hasn’t been released, regardless of the fact that it was recorded four years ago? Probably not, if even the trailer itself stretches the truth.
When the Cash Money doc is released, the world will know how much they care about fact versus fiction. In the meantime, we can take solace in knowing that this doc is more than just a rumor...right?