During a lengthy sit-down with Drink Champs, the Harlem rapper recalled the time early in Gates’ career when he stalled signing to Birdman’s legendary label simply so he could meet Capo.
“Shoutout to Kevin Gates,” Jones began. “[Cortez Bryant] or one of them called me like, ‘Yo, Birdman tryna sign this artist. His name is Kevin Gates and he just came home from jail. He the biggest thing going, and Birdman tryna sign him, but we got one problem: he’s not going to sign to Birdman unless he meets Jim Jones.'”
He continued: “I was like, ‘What?’ They was like, ‘Yeah, he in the city right now. Can we bring him to you? ‘Cause Birdman needs to sign this artist.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, tell him to pull up.’ Kevin Gates pull up. He still had on the khakis, still looking like he was fresh out of jail. I just felt his energy.
“You knew he was one of us. Like, he came from the same places we came from and things like that. We sat in there. Did five records that night. Then after that, Cash Money got to do business with him.”
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Despite having his wish granted, Kevin Gates didn’t end up signing to Cash Money. Instead, he inked a deal with Atlantic Records and also launched his own independent label, Bread Winners’ Association.
Explaining his decision to turn down Cash Money, he told MTV News in 2014: “I listened to Birdman talk about how it got it out the mud and how it took him 20 years to build his brand. That inspired me. I don’t want no handouts, I want to get it out the mud.”
Gates also recalled meeting Cash Money’s flagship star, Lil Wayne, in a 2018 interview with Sway Calloway, and explained why it was the “scariest” moment of his life.
“When Wayne sat across that table with Mack Maine, Wayne said, ‘Man, if you not over here, you ain’t gon’ eat. If you not over here, you know what I’ma do to you if you not over here? I’ma eat ‘chu.’
“That was the scariest moment of my life. I’m making a transition from being in these streets … You trying to learn the game, you don’t really know the game, and you got an artist at the top telling you that if you don’t sign over here all or nothin’, you ain’ going to sign nowhere.”