Lil Wayne, Drake and Nicki Minaj almost shared a label with David “Dee-1” Augustine on Cash Money Records.
Dee-1 told Wade-O Radio that the New Orleans-based label owned by Birdman and Ronald Williams under Universal Music Group had courted him in 2012, even meeting to talk about a contract. Ultimately, no offer was made.
“I can’t put my finger on why those situations didn’t work out,” said Dee-1. “I was literally right there on the verge of [signing], but it couldn’t have been in God’s will.”
Wade-O Radio attempted to reach out to Birdman through his publicist to fill in the blanks, but without success.
Few hip-hop artists as transparent about their Christian faith as Dee-1 are signed to mainstream labels. PJ Morton, a former award-winning gospel artist, is signed to Young Money Entertainment, an imprint of Cash Money. Morton hasn’t been as adamant as Dee-1 about not compromising his beliefs in his music, though, allowing Lil Wayne to rap an expletive-laced verse on his 2012 record “Lover.”
Dee-1 refuses to compromise what he stands for to please a label, which he’s been steadfast in his songs about. On his mixtape, “I Hope They Hear Me Vol. 2,” he released the song, “Jay, 50, and Weezy,” which warned his fellow rappers about bending for the music industry.
“I can’t make music that’s not true to me and feel good about it,” said Dee-1. “It’s definitely about having that freedom of speech. [There’s] no use in signing to a label and giving up your First Amendment rights.”
One of the most prestigious hip-hop artists who have cosigned Dee-1 is Lupe Fiasco. Fiasco has declared that he’s done with labels after feeling like a “hostage” to Atlantic Records which made him hate his album “Lasers.” Dee-1 doesn’t plan on finding himself in a similar situation.
“I’m really on a mission with my music.” said Dee-1. “If I start making music that is contrary to my mission, then I’m not being productive. I’m not pleasing God.”
Dee-1 speculated that his “I Hate Money” mindset and Christianity-influenced, curse-absent lyrics could’ve led to Cash Money closing its door. He would’ve been an anomaly on a label with DJ Khaled, Ace Hood and Busta Rhymes.
“People don’t want to take risks,” said Dee-1, before adding that he believes executives in the mainstream view anything they haven’t seen before as such.
When communication with Cash Money ceased, Dee-1 hadn’t actually decided if he’d sign with the label. The fact that it’s one of the most established names in hip hop didn’t win him over. He knew how the company had catapulted the careers of other artists, but Dee-1 needed to know that he fit well individually before signing on the dotted line.