Russell Simmons

Hip-hop legend Russell Simmons wrote a piece for his Global Grind website this week, declaring Birdman’s Cash Money Records “the best company in the history of hip-hop.”

“They built it, developed and nurtured their artists while treating them fairly, held it together, and continue to make more money than everybody,” he writes.

According to Uncle Rush, he began reflecting upon Cash Money’s history while watching Nicki Minaj deliver an acceptance speech at the BET Awards Sunday (June 29). It struck him then that the hip-hop empire has become arguable the most successful in the history of the genre.

“When we talk about surviving, despite difficult personal trauma, we are talking about Baby and Slim — the founders of Cash Money Records,” Simmons writes. “They are by far the most inspiring record company Hip-Hop has built to date. When I was watching Nicki Minaj receive her fifth consecutive rap award on the BET awards, I was almost brought to tears when she spoke about her Cash Money family. It reminded me of the very best corporate culture we built at Def Jam that we were fortunate enough to hold onto for a number of years (though not nearly as long as Cash Money has enjoyed).”

Cash Money Records was launched in the mid-1990s. At the time, the roster included acts such as B.G., Juvenile, Lil Wayne and Mannie Fresh, among others.

After enjoying regional independent success, the imprint signed with Universal Music Group in the late 1990s… and would eventually reached mainstream success. Nearly two decades later, they’ve continued to develop new talent and are at the top of the hip-hop — and music — totem pole.

Also in the article, Simmons reveals that Cash Money passed on an opportunity to partner with Def Jam years ago.

“They politely passed on our offer to ‘joint venture’ with them,” Simmons writes. “I remember thinking how much of a mistake they were making because they were missing out on our ‘great’ offer. I guess they fooled me. Turns out, all these years later, they are the only owners and the only real triumphant [Hip Hop] company fully owned and operated by the true pioneers that started it.”