Drake has been the most profitable artist in hip-hop for well over a decade and is arguably the most prominent act in the culture today. However, listeners must acknowledge he wouldn’t be who he is in 2023 if not for Lil Wayne. The Canadian rapper (real name Aubrey Graham) was catapulted into the limelight and successfully took off due to his status as an official artist on the Young Money roster. Backed by Weezy and with the power of Universal and Republic Records behind him, Drake was unstoppable. His music reached further than ever before, and the label was the launchpad for his career.
With Drake’s talent, mainstream appeal and profitably, it’s hard to fathom that anyone would want to cut ties with him or turn him down. However, that was almost the case when Lil Wayne decided to kick Drake out of his Young Money crew and drop him from the label years ago. The story of why Lil Wayne wanted to drop Drake is why his relationship with Birdman went sour. It was all about money. Disagreements about cash can be toxic, especially when everyone is fighting for a decent slice of the pie.
In the 2010s, an Atlanta music executive named Cortez Bryant managed Lil Wayne (real name Dwayne Carter). The two had made a mutual decision concerning Drake becoming a part of Young Money. However, the contract’s fine print would get between the executive and Carter. Both Lil Wayne and Bryant legally owned the rights to Drake, but as Graham got more successful, the lines became blurred regarding who was getting what money. As Carter became increasingly frustrated with the contract, he began to consider dropping Drake and resigning him with a different arrangement. However, this prospect caused a rift between Graham and Carter.
In a 2020 appearance on The Bootleg Kev Podcast, Drake’s Young Money labelmate Jae Millz detailed the situation surrounding Graham’s very close shave with Wayne. He explained how it is primarily a misconception and that Wayne’s anger was directed towards Cortez. Elaborating further on the situation, Millz explained, “I think Wayne and Drake thing at that time was more so Wayne and Tez,” Millz said. “Wayne trusting Tez with sh*t, and then finding out some sh*t might not be what it is … but now Drake is in the middle of it, because it’s like, that business, that paperwork sh*t, and all of that type of sh*t. I think that was the issue.”
However, according to Millz, even though Wayne was evidently more frustrated with Cortez than Drake, he did, in fact, kick Drake out of Young Money. Millz explained it all happened in the studio as he divulged, “I was in the studio with Drake in New York, Cool, chilling, everything cool, smoking. He’s recording, and he went in the hallway, came back, and I was like, ‘You good?’ He’s like, ‘Yeah, man.’ He’s like, [Lil Wayne] just told me I’m not Young Money no more!”
To Bootleg Kev’s surprise, he temporarily kicked Drake out of Young Money because he felt like he was being kept in the dark by the Toronto rapper. As a result of his desire to always be in the know about his artists, he even kicked Nicki Minaj out on one occasion. You can hear Millz explain the complicated politics of Young Money in the video below.