In 1999, the Cash Money Millionaires snatched the city of New Orleans—and, really, the catbird seat in hip-hop as a whole—from Master P’s No Limit Records. Led by brothers Bryan “Baby” and Ronald “Slim” Williams, the eight-year-old independent label leaped from the local street scene after signing a groundbreaking $30 million deal with Universal Records and rode to power on the raps of their young supergroup the Hot Boys: Juvenile, B.G., Lil Wayne and Young Turk. Juiced by singles “We On Fire” and “I Need a Hot Girl,” the quartet’s album Guerilla Warfare sold 870,000 copies in ’99, while solo albums from B.G. (Chopper City in the Ghetto, featuring the smash hits “Bling Bling” and “Cash Money Is an Army”) and Juvenile (400 Degreez, with “Back That Azz Up” and “Ha”) went for more than four million combined.
Eight years later, B.G. and Juve have long since left Cash Money. Rap sales nationwide have plummeted. But “bling-bling” is in the fuckin’ dictionary! B.G. and Juve talk to XXL about dominating the last year of the 20th century.
Was 1999 an important year in your career?
Yeah, ’99 was most definitely a big, big, big year, ’cause prior to that,
I ain’t never have a video or been all over the radio or nothing like that. All the units I ever put up and everything I ever did was strictly for and from the streets. So for me to be getting this much attention was new to me. Being an underground legend and being a neighborhood superstar wasn’t nothing new to me, but taking it to the next level was.
What do you think your contribution has been to hip-hop?
My contribution is that real New Orleans, gangsta, gutter. My contribution has been to represent the real New Orleans. My contribution to the game would be me. I gave the game my life, and I still give it my life. At the end of the day, I’m just happy to be a part of hip-hop and be relevant to the industry and to everything I’m a part of, so it’s all good.
When you think back to 1999, to what Cash Money did that year, do you think you guys changed the game?
Oh, definitely. Listen to the songs now. I think, as far as the South, we had a huge influence on the game. And right now, as far as the hip-hop biz, even though hip-hop ain’t doing that great this year, the South have a few artists that are really standing out right now. And I think it’s because it was cats like us that came through and paved the way.
Was No Limit a model for you guys?
Cash Money came and was already doing they thing. No Limit kinda came as a shock to us. Not saying it wasn’t New Orleans grown, but it was just the fact that P was out there in [California] when he first started the company and first got it popping, and then he came back home and started scooping a lot of cats and putting a lot of cats on. We kinda, like, felt like it was our territory, and he came, and he took it from us. But, you know, everybody got they own story. I think it was a good thing. I think the whole No Limit/Cash Money era was a good thing. We just wasn’t smart enough to sit at the same table together and get that money.
XXL Staff Picks:
Songs of the Year:
“Holla Holla,” Ja Rule
“Back That Azz Up,” Juvenile featuring Mannie Fresh & Lil Wayne
“Got Your Money,” Ol’ Dirty Bastard featuring Kelis
“Vivrant Thing,” Q-Tip
“Da Rockwilder,” Method Man & Redman
“Bling Bling,” B.G. featuring Big Tymers & Hot Boys
“Quiet Storm (Remix),” Mobb Deep featuring Lil’ Kim
“Still D.R.E.,” Dr. Dre featuring Snoop Dogg
“Hate Me Now,” Nas featuring Puff Daddy
“Simon Says,” Pharoahe Monch
Albums of the Year:
2001, Dr. Dre
The Slim Shady LP, Eminem
Murda Muzik, Mobb Deep
Nigga Please, Ol’ Dirty Bastard
Chopper City in the Ghetto, B.G.