The company best known for being at the top of music charts is now making its way to the top of another list: New York Times Best Sellers.
Founded by brothers Bryan “Birdman” Williams and Ronald “Slim” Williams, the masterminds behind Cash Money Records, one of the biggest hip-hop labels, Cash Money Content (CMC) is the new company on the publishing block and, according to Birdman, it is here to stay: “So far, it’s been great. We put out a nice [number] of books last year, and we’re looking to double it up this year.”
Circulation is handled by Atria Books, an imprint of publishing powerhouse Simon & Schuster.
The Cash Money enterprise has evolved from releasing platinum records by urban superstars such as Lil Wayne and Drake to publishing books written by pop-culture celebrities. (The Williamses are not the first hip-hop moguls to transition from music to literature; in 2007, 50 Cent started G-Unit Books.)
“We always ran across a lot of great authors who never got a chance to put their material out,” says Slim. “We thought about it and decided to put our own [publishing] company together.”
One of the books CMC released last year, Wahida Clark’s Justify My Thug, made the New York Times Best Sellers list. Birdman says this year the company is looking to increase sales through improved marketing strategies and adding more authors to the roster.
One writer already in the fold is famed Los Angeles radio personality Big Boy. His first book, An XL Life: Staying Big at Half the Size, released late last year, takes readers on a journey through the complicated childhood and successful career of the top deejay who once weighed more than 500 pounds.
“At first, I didn’t want to be with Cash Money because I thought, ‘They do great hip-hop, but I don’t want to be in a book venture with them,’” says Big Boy. “But after speaking with [Birdman] and Slim, I was very comfortable. I could always get them on the phone, I could always get them via e-mail. I knew exactly who they were.”
Another CMC author is Basketball Wives superstar Evelyn Lozada, whose first book, Inner Circle, will release this summer. It’s the story of the not-always-so-glamorous life of the wives and girlfriends of professional athletes.
Birdman and Slim hope CMC music lovers will become book lovers as well. As Big Boy says, the company is spreading the message of literacy one book at a time.
“I was having a conversation with [Birdman], and he said, ‘Man, you know why our people don’t read?’ I asked him why and he said, ‘Because [influential people] never told them to.’”
To read more, pick up the March issue of EBONY on stands now!