Baby - photo by Anthony Cutajar

B A B Y   A K A    #1   S T U N N A    -    B I R D M A N

In 1997, Bryan "Baby" Williams gained national notoriety when Cash Money Records inked a multi-million dollar deal with Universal Records, igniting the Cash Money Millionaires' explosion into stardom. The industry was not ready for the empire that would shape, mold and perfect the signature sound that is now known as the Dirty South. Playing a significant role as a triumphant entrepreneur, a creative musical innovator, and a confident performer, Baby aka #1 Stunna has helped craft multiple gold albums with various Cash Money artists, and amassed three platinum albums as a member of both the Hot Boys and rap duo the Big Tymers. Now 6 years after his initial national success, the #1 Stunna is strapping on his wings to embark on a solo flight. With his solo debut album Birdman, Baby promises to take his "bling-bling" dynasty to new mountainous heights. "Trust me, I ain't just saying this cause it's mine," chirps the energetic hip-hop magnate. "This album is the best one that I've heard coming from Cash Money.

Baby grew up during the formative years of hip-hop, influenced by the earliest works of rap legends NWA, Too Short, UGK, and 8Ball & MJG. Driven to make his own imprint on the industry, Baby and his brother Ronald "Slim" Williams established Cash Money Records with a roster of heavy-hitting artists from their hometown, New Orleans, and changed the game forever. Surveying the influence of his realm, Baby decided to push his potential by recreating himself as a full-fledged rapper. He first appeared on B.G.'s underground classic "It's All On U Vol. 2" (1997), where the Birdman, alongside Cash Money in-house producer Mannie Fresh, effortlessly traded polished verses. Their success in the studio set the Big Tymers phenomenon in motion, with the recording of their independent classic CD's "How U Luv That Vol. 1" (1998), and their subsequent Universal Records debut "How You Luv That Vol. 2" (1998). Big Tymers went on to release their platinum selling "I Got That Work" (2000), and the current platinum success "Hood Rich" (2002), setting the stage for Baby's star-studded solo project "Birdman".

Birdman solo CD

Baby and Mannie Fresh seamlessly combined the biggest names in hip-hop and r&b to buff Baby's introductory debut. Birdman teams up with comrade P. Diddy for the first single, "Do That" over a new head-banging Jazze Pha track. The second single entitled, "Baby We Can Do It" featuring Toni Braxton, is a SOS Band inspired rendition that melts classic R&B with Baby's southern drawl. "I went to Fresh and I asked him to do this classic song for me. I just felt it was right and he came back with a fire track, and next thing I know, it's recorded and we're shooting the video."

Birdman also features thumping bass-heavy beats, unveiling a new galaxy-high sound from Mannie Fresh. Memphis Tennessee is represented by Birdman's idol, 8Ball on the "Hustler, Pimps & Thugs" solidifying his southern-playalistic status. The album showcases a musically mature Baby and offers an impressive line-up with guest appearances by the Clipse, Petey Pablo, Keith Murray, Cam'Ron and Cash Money's own new groups D-Boys and Boo & Gotti. And just when you thought you heard it all, Birdman adds new vocab "Birdlady" to the hip-hop lexicon, letting his fans know that he is still one of hip-hop's biggest innovators.

"I aint no rapper, I'm a talker," explains Baby. "On Birdman you're gonna hear Birdman talk." Songs like "On The Rocks" and "Heads Up" illustrate the "talk rap" style coined by the Birdman. In a collaboration with Jermaine Dupri on "How It Be," Baby emerges as a rap conversationalist, fusing his Down South delivery with a head-banging melodic track. "Every step I take is consulted with my partners Slim and Mannie Fresh. When I decided I wanted to expand my sound on this album by bringing on other platinum producers like the Neptunes, Jermaine Dupri and Jazzy Pha, I had to make sure everybody felt comfortable, especially Mannie Fresh, who has been Cash Money Records' in-house producer since the beginning. Bottom-line, each producer that got on this album I respect and understand their craft, so my words and their beats created an easy gel. We made music and that was the goal."

Birdman believes he can fly. And with his solo debut, he does. "Sometimes I just sit back and listen to the album and I'm really in disbelief. I came a long way and it's not a secret, but I did this thang right, and I ain't ashamed to put it out there like that. I'm proud of me."

Already contemplating Birdman Vol. 2, Baby continues to blossom as an artist while strengthening his ever-growing empire. With a revamped distribution deal with Universal Records, Birdman continues to push his limits while soaring above the industry's standards. "I'm not confused at all, I know exactly where all of this fame, fortune and miracles come from and it's my faith and belief in God -- that keeps my situation so fly."

© Universal Music Group (November 2002)

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