Well, Nicki doesn’t surprise me anymore. I be around her a lot and I think she’s very talented. I think she has surprised other people, but not me. Going back to when we first signed her I felt that she had this special talent. Nicki can rap…she has style; she is classy with it. She has all the elements. And she is around the best that’s doing it today. She has a team, but Nicki is handling her own.
Given Cash Money’s past policy of staying out of beefs, did you know Nicki was going to go at Lil’ Kim?
Real talk, but maybe Kim asked for it. Usually we don’t try to make money like that…that’s not our theory. We make great music. We have never been the type to make songs about motherfuckas. I think Nicki is speaking in general, not just Kim personally. A lot of motherfuckers have been hating on her success. To me, they are all asking for it. I don’t think any of them has as a talented clique as Nicki. We a movement.
What comes to mind when you hear Eminem call your girl Nicki Smalls?
That means a lot. It’s great that Nicki is being recognized. Everybody is paying attention. For her to be working with Em and these different acts outside of Cash Money shows that she's handling her own business. Nicki sings, she raps…we try to have well-rounded artists. Wayne is the same way. He raps, sings and plays guitar. Same with Drake with his singing, acting and rapping. We are molding them to not just be rappers. Just don’t limit yourself.
Another Cash Money/Young Money artist that's been making noise recently is Tyga. Why do you think fans are finally embracing him?
I think it’s all his hard work. Tyga is driven. It was great for him to be on tour with Drake. That was a good move. And really Tyga can go…he can rap. That young boy can do it. I think he’s the next big star from the clique. And I think Bow Wow is next.
You mentioned Bow Wow. A lot of music sites and blogs rolled their eyes when the news that he was signing to Cash Money came out. What was it about Bow Wow that helped you see him as a viable artist beyond his heartthrob success?
I think Bow Wow is great. He has a great record out right now with him and Chris Brown (“Aint Thinkin’ About You”). I think Bow Wow is going to surprise a lot of people with his album. I see greatness in the young boy. Remember, Bow Wow is already a star. He has platinum albums and [movies]. But now he’s in a different atmosphere; with a different crew. All I’m doing is bringing that great music to him; I’m putting him with the Waynes and the Drakes and letting him do his thing. But at the end of the day, Bow Wow has to do him. And he’s adjusting great.
Chris Paul’s New Orleans Hornets have been one of the surprise teams in the NBA so far. Care to make a bet on their chances of winning the NBA Finals trophy?
[Laughs] It’s funny you asked that. We're on our way to the Hornets game where they will be [playing] the Miami Heat. The Big Three are not to be played with, them boys are strong. But I think we have a good team. We'll see.