EXCLUSIVE: Cortez Bryant, Lil Wayne’s Former Manager, Recalls Time Rapper Was Scammed Out Of Performance Payment & Once Considered Signing W/ Def Jam
In an exclusive interview with theJasmineBRAND.com, Lil Wayne’s ex-manager, Cortez Bryant, sat down to discuss his time with the New Orleans legend. Cortez Bryant took us from the beginning of his managing career to the time he got scammed in Dallas and Lil Wayne’s bad Cash Money contract.
In Jan. 2004, a college-aged Cortez Bryant booked his first show for Lil Wayne in Dallas, Texas. He recalled meeting a shady concert promoter inside an empty venue. The incident nearly prompted Bryant to quit before his career took off. He explained:
“I get there, you know, we checked in the hotel. Like, I’m thinking it was good because we got the front end of the money, we got [the] deposit, [and] we got our flight info, so I’m thinking it’s straight. So it came time – now mind you, in the beginning it’s only literally me him and my young homie ‘Mal’ who’s playing an assistant role. It was just three of us but I was like security, DJ, everything.”
“So I was going to the club to literally set up as the DJ [and] collect the backing of the money before Wayne got in. I get there and it’s about 10 o’clock. I’m like…you know the promo, [he’s] like, ‘yeah, we go on [at about 12 o’clock’]. At this time it’s like 10 [and] there’s nobody in there. [The promoter] kept going in and out, going in and out and just about 11 [o’clock], you know -nobody’s still coming to this d*mn place and nobody walked in. Maybe by 12 it may be like five people in there and I’m still like, yo dawg, what’s up with the back end right now I’ve been here for a couple hours?”
Eventually, Bryant realized that his plan had fallen through. He waited outside for several hours before an accountant gave him a ride back to the hotel. When he arrived, he nervously broke the news to Lil Wayne that he didn’t receive the money for the bogus gig. Wayne laughed, brushed it off, and said that Bryant should use it as a learning experience.
He added that Wayne’s confidence in his abilities encouraged him to continue:
“That was just the first step of, you know, along the way, Wayne’s always seeing something in me that I didn’t see it myself.”
Bryant then shared that with no previous experience, he spent his early years picking things up along the way:
“I just learned around the way. There wasn’t no YouTube with all these people speaking like this to tell you stories and what to do and how to do [it]. I had a book, I bought a book, I bought a couple books. But, i’ve learned really fast that in the music – and it was moving so fast – it was about the experience and really knowing how to move. They could teach me like, terminology and things of that nature. But how to move especially as a manager and other things that counts of being a manager, how to get your artists to move and understand them psychologically. Putting out fires when things like that happen that wasn’t in the textbook. So, it really had to be experience. So those first couple years, it was learning on the fly.”
One of his biggest lessons occurred when Wayne wanted to leave Cash Money for a deal with Jay-Z at Def Jam. According to Bryant, the contract that the rap sensation signed as a teen wasn’t good. He explained:
“When Jay was at Def Jam and – this is the first time he knew his deal wasn’t a good deal. He didn’t have a lawyer, he didn’t have any of these things, so I had to get him a lawyer. none of those things existed for him. He literally was just a kid signed to his label with not having any lawyer look at any of the paperwork that he signed. Which helped us in the end because it gave us a loop since he was a minor when he signed a contract. It allowed us the freedom to renegotiate and try to get things right.”
(See the full interview below:)
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