The Young Money and Cash Money camps preach one thing above anything else: family first. So when Lil Wayne went away to prison, the troops had to step up to ensure continued success for the labels.
[artist id="2545682"]Drake[/artist] and [artist id="3055069"]Nicki Minaj[/artist] carried the brunt of that responsibility, but the two upstart MCs weren't alone; the rest of the crew put everything they had on hold to rally around the two stars in Wayne's absence.
"The whole crew is working on albums, but we support them one at a time," YM's Gudda Gudda told MTV News. "When Drake dropped, we was all behind Drake's album. Now it's Nicki's turn, Pink Friday, that's all we know right now."
"You have to be of a certain type of nature in order to fit in," Jay Sean added while on the red carpet of Lil Wayne's welcome-home party. "Everyone has a respect and love for each other. I think that's why it works."
The respective crews are on top now, with Wayne, Drake and Nicki all highlighted on MTV News' Hottest MCs in the Game list this year. But their Weezy-fueled rise has been in the works for some time. The collective hit the road with Lil Wayne in support of his Tha Carter III, and in March 2009, he told MTV News to watch out for his YM team.
"These people all have a drive," Wayne said as he introduced Young Money on his tour bus after an mtvU Spring Break performance. "They all have the drive that I have, and that's 'never stop working.' We never get tired. Soon as I meet somebody like that, that never gets tired, let's do it. And when you ready, let's go. Let's go, [then] you Young Money. These people right here are that."
Jae Millz echoed his boss' point on Sunday night. "We done been on tours together, shared hotel rooms together, we been on the road together, we had our ups and downs recording the album," he said. "We had two of the biggest songs of last year. It all just came to life real fast. It was all Wayne's dream, and he made it a reality for us."
And then the crew turned around and kept the reality going, Nicki said. "We went through this, and our team is still stronger than ever," she said. "We held Wayne down while he was gone, and it's the most meaningful thing as CEO for you to go away and your team still holds you down."
How do you think Young Money did in Lil Wayne's absence? Share your thoughts in the comments.