The head men at rap conglomerate Cash Money Records, Bryan “Birdman” Williams, his brother Ronald “Slim” Williams, and Lil Wayne, have signed so many new artists between 2008 and the first half of 2013 that it only seems fair to create a record label compilation/industry collaboration album featuring every artist on the roster (more inclusive than 2009’s We Are Young Money) in addition to some out of house acts. Rich Gang is a united, family affair and generates more buzz for some of the lesser known names within Cash Money. The crew on this album drive home the point, many times throughout the project, that they are the ones on top, they’re not going anywhere soon, and no one is going to interfere with their plans.
The themes of Cash Money have always revolved around big money making, drugs, luxurious living, and women. Messages of the capo lifestyle permeate the whole LP, to the approval of loyal fans. What is obvious is the style and brand of the artists.
Nearly everyone is here. Lil Wayne pops out several times with witty verses, as does Birdman. For Cash Money, there are one or two verses from each of Tyga, Cory Gunz, Jae Millz, Ace Hood, and many others. The remainder has (to name just a few) Rick Ross spittin’ simple verses on “50 Plates,” Kendrick Lamar giving insight into relationship ups and downs on “100 Favors,” French Montana doin’ work on “Panties to the Side,” and Flo Rida roller-coasting to an upbeat “Sunshine.” Drake’s shocking absence makes for a distinct flavor here that is much unlike Drizzy’s trademark, love-sick nostalgia. Every emcee on the album proves they are mechanically competent with writing, delivery, and flair.
There are a few surprises in backdrop beat sounds. “Everyday” features an 80s like synthesizer with claps and squeaky blips intermittently, “Bigger than Life” offers gentle claps and kick drum with a soft electric piano, and “Sunshine” gleams with faint electric guitar, humming bass, and clipped drum taps. Besides those special moments, dark, intense loops, booming bass, ticking drum rolls, and tempered, blanketing chords make up the rest of the beat elements on the album.
On this album, the Cash Money emcees and the Rich Gang invitees may not show off the teaching skills of a KRS-One type or the storytelling abilities of a Slick Rick type, but they have outstanding style and they sure can rap (and sing). Rich Gang lacks some newness and benchmark moments that We Are Young Money has, but it’s a solid album style wise. Look out for the deluxe bonus tracks, “Have It Your Way” featuring T.I., “Paint Tha Town” featuring Game, and “Fly Rich” featuring Future and Meek Mill.