Birdman Says 'Close Friend' Drake Might Join Cash Money's Performance at Essence Fest: 'He One Of Us' (Exclusive)

The rapper shows support for Drake and reveals big plans for fans in attendance at this year's Essence Festival

<p>Thearon W. Henderson/Getty; Rich Fury/Getty</p> Birdman and Drake

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty; Rich Fury/Getty

Birdman and Drake

Will Drake make his return to the stage at Essence Fest?

If Birdman has his way, that's exactly what will happen on Friday, July 5, when he hits the stage for opening night of Essence Festival of Culture in New Orleans.

At the helm of a star-studded performance, the hit rapper and music mogul, 55, is set to commemorate the 30th anniversary of his label Cash Money Records, which shares the milestone with Essence Fest itself, now in its 30th year.

"Everybody you thinking of as far as Cash Money [will be there]," the "Stuntin' Like My Daddy" rapper says of who fans can expect to join him on stage, including easy guess stars like Lil Wayne and Juvenile. But also, "a lot of people that started with me when we was young in the game. It's going to be a great night."

Related: Birdman Offers to Pay Rent for Those Living in His Hometown of New Orleans amid Pandemic

One person he's hoping turns out is Drake, who is signed to Lil Wayne's Young Money Records and hasn't hit a major stage since he began trading scathing diss tracks with Kendrick Lamar, a war of words that seemed to end with the latter's hit "Not Like Us".

<p>Prince Williams/Wireimage</p> Drake

Prince Williams/Wireimage


"We're definitely looking forward to that and hoping that do happen," Birdman says when asked if the Drake would indeed be making an appearance. "It's a possibility. We made this a family thing, but Drake, we're close friends. He one of us."

Related: What's Been Going on with Drake and Kendrick Lamar (and Several Others): A Timeline of Recent Disses

Another special guest will be rapper B.G. who was recently released from prison where he served time after pleading guilty to illegal gun possession. "We're all excited to have B.G. home after doing 13 years in the penitentiary ," he says of the creator of the smash hit 1999 song "Bling, Bling". "It's his first time touching anybody's stage so that's exciting."

<p>Raymond Boyd/Getty </p> Cash Money Records Rappers

Raymond Boyd/Getty

Cash Money Records Rappers

The show comes amid extended celebrations for Cash Money, including being honored by Youtube during BET Awards Weekend and also a recent street re-naming ceremony in Birdman's New Orleans hometown.

"I grew up on these blocks," he says of growing up in the city's embattled Third Ward neighborhood. "It was a drug-infested area, I saw a lot of people get killed. It was just a hell of a way to grow up as a kid, so to be able to do this, this means a lot to me."

Related: Flashback: All the Stars Who've Rocked the 'Essence' Fest

When he looks back on the past three decades of putting his unique New Orleans stamp on hip-hop, "You can't put a price on it," he says. "Surviving the test of time and going through all these different situations where people was counting you out, life's ups and downs...we still was fortunate to be blessed to keep it pushin'."

<p>Peter G. Forest/Getty </p> Birdman

Peter G. Forest/Getty


And he says milestones may come, but he's not retiring anytime soon. "I feel like once you start getting honored, you're finished with it and I'm not finished with it," says Birdman. "I'm far from finished."

Essence Festival of Culture celebrates its 30th Anniversary in New Orleans July 5-7, with headliners Birdman & Friends, Usher and Janet Jackson.

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