Over the years, Cash Money Records’ unprecendented $30 million pressing and distribution deal with Universal has become the stuff of Hip Hop lore. No matter how you rephrase it, the question essentially always comes down to people wondering how a relatively unknown New Orleans label leveraged a more lucrative deal than Ruff Ryders, Roc-A-Fella or any other boutique Rap label around at the time.
AlLindstrom.com found the man who brokered the deal which brought Lil Wayne, Juvenile and Birdman (then known as Baby) to the nation’s collective consciousness. Dino Delvaille—then the A&R at Universal—says he was looking for some local Hip Hop during a casual visit to New Orleans. One thing led to another, and he ended up in a meeting at Brian “Baby” Williams’ home.
“He comes and sits down across the table from me, and he lays a gun down on the table. He says, ‘I heard you want to do business with us.’ And I’m looking at the table and looking at the gun like, ‘Yeah, yeah. I wanna do business with you.’ He goes, ‘You know what? I respect you. You’re the only motherfucker from New York who came to my back yard. All these motherfuckers from New York are trying to fly me to New York and Fly me to LA. I don’t like flying; I don’t want to go to these places.’ And I said, ‘Oh, no doubt.’”
According to Delvaille, Cash Money took a secret meeting with Elektra while on their way to meet representatives from Universal. Delvaille says he pretended to be a graphic designer from Pen & Pixel and tricked Elektra reps into letting him speak with Ronald “Slim” Williams. Once on the phone, Delvaille convinced Williams to finish up the negotiations with Universal.
Delvaille added that an established sales record and a roster of up and coming acts led to Cash Money getting such a lucrative deal. Universal still distributes Cash Money, and without Delvaille’s work, it’s entirely possible that Drake, Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne could all now be signed to Elektra.