Mannie Fresh_Lead

Juvenile “Ha,” 400 Degreez (1998)


Mannie Fresh: “That was pretty much the last song that we did on the album 400 Degreez, and I felt like it was a song [that was] missing. I kept on saying, ‘Like, dude, there’s one missing.’ And, chemistry has always been like this with me; that last song always works. It’s kind of thoughtless to me. I was just like, ‘Damn, dude, let’s just make one from scratch, real quick. And if it sounds right, cool. If it don’t, then we going to ditch it.’ And, we did that song last. The song came together every bit of probably like, two minutes. [Juvenile] already had the raps. He was saying it to me while I was programming a beat. You know, and I was like, ‘Dude, this is going to be the one.’ I’m like, ‘This one right here going to change it.’ And, he was like, ‘Damn, dude. You think so?’ And, the whole song was created on my SP 1200. You know. It was no keyboards, none of that. Like, I did the key sounds like just by tuning bass sounds or whatever. We ain’t got nothing but eight outputs on this drum machine, and this song is going to be so [crazy]. We doing nothing extra, no keyboards, no none of that. I still got my floppy disk with that song.

“I would say around that time it was a whole lot different from where it is now because around that time the producer got the respect that the producer gets. I was able to say, ‘Hey, this is the way the pattern should go. This is the way the hook should go. This is how this should fall.’ You know. Now later on, you get artists that kind of get their feet wet, and they start telling you how the song go. And, you like, ‘Hey, dude. You write your part and let me do my part.’ I mean, production from a lot of cats, not just him, like in the earlier days, it was more of, ‘I can take direction from a producer.’ Now, it’s more of, ‘Somebody is going to do. Or, I don’t really like that.’ Well, everything I do, you’re not going to like but it’s designed for something.

“What made 400 Degreez great is that Juvenile already had those raps. He already knew them. It was something that he knew every one of those raps. You know, and it was an easy process because it was like, ‘Oh, you know these raps? You know these. You ain’t got to read them off paper and it’s going to feel good. It’s going to feel you’re not reading them off a paper.’ So, that made the production so much easier. For somebody to say like, ‘Oh my goodness, this dude just spitting song after song.’ He just needs music to go with it, so it was easy like it felt good.

“I mean when that came out, to me—I’m just going to be honest. The whole 400 Degreez album was inspired by what Outkast was doing, Organized Noize. That was what I was listening to around that time. I was like, ‘Okay. These dudes are playing real music.’ I’m like, ‘It’s time for us to step it up.’ It was more so, ‘How do we do something from the South that everybody is going to accept even if they don’t love Southern music?’ They are going to have to jam this. So, that was along the lines of what I was thinking. I was going to be like, ‘Man, even if you just that hardcore New York kid that’s like, ‘You know what? I ain’t ever [going to] embrace that.’’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, you going to find something on this album that you like.’.

“So, the process was more of me jamming Organized Noize. At that time, Outkast was like Gods to me, and I was just like, ‘Well, how do I find a piece of what they doing and incorporate it into me?’.

“[When Jay-Z hopped on the remix], oh, that was official. You knew you landed. You got some great moments in hip-hop. To have Run-DMC acknowledge you, something like that, you’re like, ‘Oh, I’m that dude.’ To have Jay-Z do a verse, you that dude. To have Jay-Z shout you out in an intro, you’re that dude. Like, it doesn’t get any greater than that. Nobody can take that from you.’ It’s like having your grandkids, and y’all sitting around talking shit. And, you’re just like, ‘Hey, wait. Let me bring you back to my era, so I could show you who I was.’”

Juvenile “Back That Azz Up,” 400 Degreez (1999)

Back That Azz Up

Mannie Fresh: “Same example of what I was saying. He knew those raps. He had those songs together, and the original way we did it was like a stripped-down version of bounce music. And I was like, ‘We can change everything if we put some music behind it, but we got to figure out how we merge bounce with what’s going on.’ And, I was just like, ‘It’s real simple: Classical music.’ Like, you can’t really go wrong. And, when I was doing it, everybody was kind of like, ‘Dude, this sound like some Beethoven shit.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, it’s supposed to sound like that.’ But, I’m like. ‘I know how to merge this to get the other people to pay attention to it.’ And, they were just like, ‘What’s the other people?’ I’m like, ‘Uh, the other race.’

“Well, I was originally on the record. When we were doing it, it was an older song that was already done. Juvenile actually changed his flow on the record because of what I was saying. The original way he did it was just straight rapping, but I did the same lines of the way the song went. He was like, ‘Nah, I need to change the flow the way Mannie just did.’ And of course by it being his song, I was like, ‘You know what? You can move me last. It’s your song.’ But the original way the song…Like, you know the whole little flow he was doing, like, ‘Working with some ass, yeah/You bad, yeah.’ When I did the first verse of it, it was that flow. He was just like, ‘Nah, I need to change it to that like instead of just rapping straight.’

“It was his hook, no doubt. But, it was a song he had already been doing around New Orleans, but he was doing it off of just like a Triggerman—you know break beats, which we call Triggerman. He was doing the song, but he was doing it off of just like straight raps. He really had no swag to it. You know. No different rhyme scheme or whatever, but then he was like, ‘Fresh, jump on the song.’ So when I did my verse, he went back and rewrote his two verses ‘cause he was like, ‘Man, it got to flow like the same way you flowing.’

“When it was done in the studio, I was like, ‘This is the one.’ It’s good to have that classic rap song. People always ask me in interviews, ‘What song you think impacted the world?’ I’m like, ‘Back That Azz Up.’ I’m like, ‘If you losing, you could be the worst DJ in the world, go to that song, you all right. Anybody. Any color, any race, whatever. Go to that song, you all right.’”

B.G. “Bling Bling,” Chopper City in the Ghetto (1999)

Bling Bling

Mannie Fresh: “‘Bling Bling’ was originally a Big Tymers song. And, what happened was, we was listening to [B.G.’s] album, we was just like, ‘It’s way too street. It’s too dark.’ And then, I was just like, ‘How do you give him the record sales, like what we trying to get? We trying to keep the level of where we at to keep it going.’ I’m like, ‘You have to do something that’s going to appeal to everybody.’ You know because after me listening to his album, and I didn’t want to take anything away from him ‘cause you know, at that time, he definitely was the streets. But, I’m like, ‘Dude, it’s not going to get you the sale; it’s not going to get you the popularity. You know. And everything else you trying to get.’ So, we made a decision to say, ‘Hey, let him have ‘Bling Bling.’

“It was designed to say like, ‘How do we get B.G. platinum sales?’ Like, the streets love the dude, but it’s been proven over, over again that the streets don’t buy records. How do we get him across the board to everybody? I was like, ‘Dude, this song ‘Bling Bling,’ this is going to be something huge.’ Even on that, to clear it up, Wayne was the first person to say the word bling. But the hook, the hook of that song, exactly how it went, I wrote that hook; I did the beat. I did everything. You know when I came to the studio, I was like, ‘Listen, this is how the song going to go, and this is what we going to say and whatever and all of that.’

“And, I’ll explain it exactly; Wayne had a line in the song that said, ‘Tell me what kinda/Got diamonds that’ll bling blind ya.’ But it was not the word ‘Bling Bling.’ [Wayne] was the first person to say bling, and it was like a song that was an older Cash Money song. But I guess the conflict of it is Wayne saying he wrote that song. I’m like, ‘No, dude. I’ve always come to the studio with hooks and beats already done.’ I pretty much orchestrated how I wanted my song to go. Like, I’m always, ‘Hey, dude. This is the beat, and this is what we’re going to say right here.’

“Well, when that happened, dude, it was just phenomenal to know that like, ‘Man, right now, it’s all eyes on y’all.’ On top of that, it changed the whole way people thinking and what they were saying. I heard some people say like, ‘Wow, this ‘Bling Bling’ thing is going big.’ And then, you start hearing it on TV shows over and over again until it got corny. So, you knew it was big. You like, ‘Dude, it’s like corny people using this.’ It’s like you landed, where you just like ‘Dude, corporate America is using it.’”

Hot Boys “I Need a Hot Girl,” Guerrilla Warfare (1999)

I Need a Hot Girl

Mannie Fresh: “I mean, we were like, ‘What’s the anthem for the women?’ And even like, ‘I Need a Hot Girl,’ it wasn’t inspired by the world, it was inspired by our city. We had so many girls that was like, ‘Dude, y’all not putting us on the map. Y’all not acknowledging us, what’s up?’ I was still DJing in the club when I was putting out these records, and I was just having girls coming up to me going, ‘Dude, you ain’t did nothing for us.’ So I was like, ‘I got y’all. It’s coming.’ So you know you get them ghetto girls that’s just like, ‘For real? When’s our record coming?’ And I was like for real, I need to hurry up and make they record, ‘cause they getting kind of angry.

“I had that song written before I got to the studio. Like I had the concept already done or whatever, and it was just more of picking who was going to be on it. But I was like, ‘Hey, dude. I got the hook; I know what you’re supposed to say, and who’s supposed to be on it and everything.’ ‘Cause these ideas are coming to me. It still happens like that, but I’m older; I won’t get up, I’ll just turn on my iPhone and just kind of record them, but when I was younger I would just go in. Like if I had an idea in the morning, I’d just have to get up and go do it.”

Lil Wayne “Tha Block Is Hot,” Tha Block Is Hot (1999)

Tha Block is Hot

Mannie Fresh: “Same song, same concept of all of that. The whole song came out of my SP 1200. And, it was one of those songs that were catered for [Lil Wayne]. Soon as I done it, finished it, had all the breaks in it and all of that, I was like, ‘This one is so Lil Wayne. I don’t know what he’s going to say to it, but this is him.’ When I played it for him, like, he already had the raps. That’s one of the things I’ve always admired about Wayne. Like, he always had a tablet full of songs. He’ll be like, ‘Just put on a beat, I know exactly what to do.’ He was always the dude. If somebody didn’t show up or you missed your slot or something, he had something for it. You play a beat and he on it. He’s like, ‘Oh yeah, I got that. Don’t worry about it.’

“Basically, I wanted the beat to be energy because it was more so of like—you know Wayne was super young at that time, so I was like, ‘How do you get him in a grown world?’ This beat got to be grown, it can’t be like a kiddy catchy, you know what I’m saying? So it had to be something along the lines of—it had to be something phenomenal; like it couldn’t be something that was something kiddy. I didn’t want it to be nothing along the lines of where it would’ve sounded like it was a gimmick. Everybody knew his age, knew he was young. But I was like, ‘I can’t sell y’all on: He’s just this little kid with a cute rap.’ So when he put the words to that beat, I was just like, ‘Oh yeah, that’s it. That’s the one right there.’ And the crazy thing was he didn’t have to go through a bunch of songs. Just from hearing it that one time, he knew exactly what it was. Wayne was always the dude who’d one take, and that was phenomenal. You give him one take, and he’d go through his hooks, the rapping, everything.

“Despite even having beef with Cash Money, I’ve always given it up to him to say really he was trained to do that. He’s always been a workhorse. He’s always been had song after song after song. Yeah, it’s nothing hard for him to do, especially if you take it as—you know you love this and it’s training to you. Like, you know, that’s what I see with a lot of veterans when they fall off. It’s like when you hungry, you work, but when you make money and you’re successful, you forget about your work ethic and the only time you want to work is when you need money. It’s like, ‘Dude, you haven’t been practicing your craft. Only reason why you back in is because you need money.’”

Juvenile “U Understand,” Tha G-Code (2000)

U Understand

Mannie Fresh: “We was having a conversation, and [Juvenile] kept saying, ‘You understand?’ And it was something that we were talking about and he kept saying—I was like, ‘Damn dude, you might as well write the song.’ ‘Cause I’m like, ‘I keep on talking, and you keep saying, ‘You understand.’’ He was just like, ‘I want the beat like this, you understand?’ [Laughs.] And I was like, ‘Dude, you trying to do what you want to do, you understand? You might as well make a song about this.’ He was like, ‘Really dude?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, turn it into a song.’ I’m like, ‘You keep on saying this shit, it’s annoying, but it’s catchy.’ [Laughs.]

“It was really based on a conversation. We were in the studio, and he just kept saying—like it was over a disagreement and it was one of them emotional moments, and he just kept saying, ‘You understand?’ And I was like—so we start mocking him, ‘You understand?’ He was like, ‘Alright, I’m going to write the song.’

Juvenile, Tha G-Code (1999)

Tha G-Code Cover

Mannie Fresh: It was a little beef. I think this is what the beef was: Juvenile wanted the success of 400 and I was trying to explain to him that ‘Back That Azz Up’ was a crossover song. Not designed to be a crossover song, but it crossed over, so I’m like, ‘If you looking for that, you got to figure out what’s your other song like that. And he was like, ‘Nah bro, I just want to stay grounded; I want to stay in the ‘hood.’ I was just like, ‘Dude, I’m not saying this as a hating statement, but listen to what I’m telling you. If you going to make The G-Code strictly a ‘hood album, you’re not going to get the same sales. 400 Degreez, “Back That Azz Up” were not designed to be a crossover song, it just crossed over, but it caught off a chemistry of, ‘Okay, this is something cool.’ I mean if you merge this and this together it’s an easy marriage, like people going to like it. So I was like, ‘Dude, you got to give them that dance tune and you got to cater to women.’

“My argument was, ‘It’s kind of degrading to women. Dude, I’m not trying to tell you don’t do it, but if you’re saying you’re trying to do it as a single, women are not going to embrace that as much as something that’s uplifting and telling them they’re sexy or whatever.’ So that was like the argument and when it came out, it did a couple million or whatever his number was, but it didn’t do what 400 Degreez did, you know what I’m saying? Whatever number it was—from a DJ’s standpoint, I’m studying everything, from what people dance to or what they move to or whatever. So I was bringing my knowledge to producing saying, ‘Hey, this is what you got to do if you want to get this.’ But by then the success of 400 Degreez gave Juvie some leverage to say, ‘I know this.’

“On top of that Tha G-Code didn’t have to come out. If you really want to know. I was like, ‘Why are we doing this? 400 Degreez is still working.’ You got to look at it. ‘Back That Azz Up’ wasn’t meant to be a single, it forced its way to be a single. We had so many songs on that album that could’ve been a single that we didn’t do. Even the title track 400 Degreez was hot in the clubs, we never did that song as a single. And I’m like, ‘Dude, this album—why are we putting out another album? These numbers are phenomenal.’ Like every week when the numbers came it’d be something crazy, and I’m like, ‘It’s not time for him to do another album.’

“I’m not somebody who’s going to fuss, but Juvie felt like it was time for him to do a new album, I felt like it wasn’t, but it’s just like hey you’re an artist. I feel your pain of you saying that I want to do something, but the point of where I’m going and what I’m doing, people still want singles off of this album.”

Formation of the Big Tymers

Formation of the Big Tymers

Mannie Fresh: To make a long story short—this is what a lot of people don’t know either, the deal that happened with Universal was based off of the Big Tymers. Like at the time when Universal came looking at us, the independent album that we had out was the Big Tymers’ album. [It wasn’t through Juvenile], it wasn’t through none of those. Juvenile or none of that, it was through Big Tymers album. How You Luv That. So it was out and doing crazy numbers in the South. It was just like, ‘Who are these dudes?’ Not rappers, just doing some crazy-ass shit just talking reckless on records, but everybody loved it. So that gave Universal the attention to come looking for us. It wasn’t—Universal had no idea that Lil Wayne, Juvenile, and everyone else were signed to Cash Money.

“[Universal] really had no idea what Cash Money was or whatever. They just knew that these dudes called the Big Tymers and they doing crazy numbers right now. So the first thing we released on Universal was How You Luv That Vol. 2. And collectively we did gold, from where we was and where they put it at. Now what put Cash Money on the map was Juvenile when we dropped the 400 Degreez album.

“Basically, I was writing all of these songs and it was just somebody pushing me like, ‘Damn dude, you really can rap,’ and I’m like, ‘I don’t really know.’ And it was more so everybody around us going like, ‘Go for it, just try and see what happens.’ The first Big Tymers thing we did was just in New Orleans, and the publicity got so crazy on it—it was just like something that was like, ‘Okay, we can’t look back from this.’ It was just more so of us in the studio messing around. All of them songs was just us in the studio—and at that time Bun was our homeboy, still is, but Bun was supposed to be a member of the Big Tymers. That’s why Bun B was heavily influenced on the first Big Tymers album or whatever, and that was our rapper so it made it even better. [Laughs.] Bun rode with us—whatever we did and whatever features we had. You go back to the early Cash Money stuff and Bun is on everything. He was snapping on all of that. So our leverage was like, ‘How do we create something that’s different?’ I’m like, ‘Bun is our rapper. He’s Big Tymers’ rapper, we just the dudes that’s in the back that say crazy wild shit.’ Everybody was like, ‘Dude this is something phenomenal even though y’all don’t think so.’ I ain’t even going to lie, we kind of was like, ‘This could either go bad or go good,’ that was our thoughts about it. ‘Cause it was just like, I don’t know if the world is going to accept somebody just talking shit on records. Like our thought process was so like, ‘Don’t overthink this, think what normal people would say. Like what would you be if you could be a rapper and what would you say?’ That’s exactly what we did."

Big Tymers “Get Your Roll On,” I Got That Work (2000)

Get Your Roll On

Mannie Fresh: “It was Miami. We were in Miami at Circle House Studio, and I remember we was on tour with the Ruff Ryders and DMX had this bark that he used to do, and everybody used to respond to it like, ‘What!’ And I was like, ‘That shit is so phenomenal. We got to come up with something that’s crazy.’ We had that saying ‘get your roll on’ throughout the whole tour, and whenever we did it—‘cause we never had a track for it, we just used to stop the show and be like ‘everybody get your roll on’ and do like the little gesture with our hands, and the whole crowd would do it. I’m like, ‘This hit is already made. We just got to put a beat to it.’ We designed it on tour—everywhere we went we didn’t play this track or nothing. We just had this segment where we would stop and do that and people would do it. So when the song dropped, they naturally already knew it. It was like we got to response so big from doing it on tour and when we used to do it on tour, the DJ would scratch DMX’s ‘what!’ Like we’d be like, ‘Everybody get your roll on, everybody get your motherfucking roll on [scratch] what!’ But it was just like so phenomenal that people would just do it and I’m like, ‘The only thing we need to do is put a track behind this.’"

Big Tymers “Number One Stunna,” I Got That Work (2000)

Number One Stunna

Mannie Fresh: “Well this dude Lack that was signed to Cash Money, he actually wrote that whole song. Hook and everything, and he wound up giving it up to Baby and it created Baby’s image. It was his song originally, but I was like it’s so catered towards Baby, and he was like, ‘Yeah dude, you right.’ It created that whole image of him being the ‘Number One Stunna.’ But the dude wrote the song, it wasn’t designed at nobody, it was just called ‘Number One Stunna.’ I was like ‘dude, that’s so catered to baby.’ But it wasn’t originally his song, it was for this guy named Lack who was signed to Cash Money, and he actually wrote the whole song. Except for Juvenile and Wayne, but Baby’s verses and the hook was written by this dude Lack.

“[Lack actually] came in the studio singing the song, and I just put the beat behind it. He was just like. ‘I got this song dude called ‘Number One Stunna’’ And I was like, ‘Dog, this shit is live.’ And around that time we was like any other record company. Like when you seen Death Row they whole camp was working, everybody was working. Nobody knew what nothing was worth, we just took it off somebody word that everybody was going to get taken care of, so it wasn’t [wrong] to say to Lack, ‘Hey dude, let Baby have it.’”

Cash Money Millionaires “Project Bitch,” Baller Blockin' (2000)

Project Bitch

Mannie Fresh: “That’s another where there was pressure from some chicks. It was like, ‘Hey dude, come on now. We need our song.’ It was one of them points where you know how somebody say we getting a big head, chicks was like, ‘Okay, y’all getting a big head. What is this about? Y’all done left y’all roots,’ and we was like, ‘Okay, we’re going to give y’all this one.’ You know what I’m saying? That went back to like whenever we felt like we was slipping we had to get back to the ‘hood.

“This is how that happened. Like we had this line in “I Need a Hot Girl” where Turk said that line ‘I need a project chick, a ‘hood rat chick’ and whenever when we were in concerts, the crowd sung that the loudest wherever. So I was like, ‘Dude, that is a hook automatically. We just need to chop it up and figure out what can we put behind it.’ And when we was doing the song originally it was up-tempo, and I was like, ‘Dude, it’s kind of too hard to catch the words. Let’s just kind of slow it down.’ And originally the hook of it was supposed to be Turk, but for some reason he didn’t show up and Wayne did it. Same story about what I’m saying; you don’t show up, Wayne got you. The whole design of the song was supposed to make Turk. It was supposed to make him this kid—and I’m like, ‘Dude, you missed your shot because it was your hook from a previous record,’ but whenever we did it the crowd sung it so loud it was like, ‘Damn dude you got one. All you need to do is figure out what we going to put that to.’ Wayne knew automatically from the design of how I used to say, ‘If the crowd likes it—we got bits and pieces that the crowd like and we turned them into hooks.’ I’m like, ‘This one is already a hit, and all we got to do is put a beat under it.’ So Wayne got the concept immediately. He was like, ‘Yo, I’m on that song.’

“I used to say things to Wayne, and he took them into consideration. ‘Cause you know Wayne used to be like, ‘Damn dude, you get to the studio, write the song, and you’ll design breaks around your raps,’ and I’m like, ‘You never know what’s going to happen in life. This is the legacy.’ Long as I got couple songs with me rapping first, I’m going to be all right; I always have songs to sing. You know what I’m saying? And he was just like, ‘Dude, that makes all the sense in the world, so I’m start getting here early.’”

Juvenile “Set it Off,” Project English (2001)

Set it Off

Mannie Fresh: “The crazy thing is ‘Set it Off’ was so crazy ‘cause it was designed from House of Blues New Orleans early. He used to do that song and he used to do it to like a beat that I gave him, but it got so popular that we was like, ‘You need to do that.’ And when we did it, I was like let’s try to make it sound as much as when we did it. Even now that’s one of those songs if you go to the ‘hood and they put that on, they get off on it. So we were just trying recapture the whole club vibe of the song. I was like there’s no way in the world we’re going to come close to like what happens live when you perform it, but let’s just try to come close to it.

“Around that time, dude was like going through his thing. So it was like more of—I would say that album was a patched-up album. Truthfully. Because dude wasn’t showing up, whatever he was going through with Cash Money, or if he did show up we ain’t talk. He was like, ‘I’m going to give y’all a verse, and y’all can go about it.’ And I’m like, ‘Okay, we’ll figure out a way—you know.’ Because if somebody tells you this is how you get your paper, like y’all got to turn this in, then I’m like, ‘Well, the wonders of Mannie Fresh, I’ll figure out something.’ And it was more of, ‘Dude, can you figure out something.’ It was just a patched-up album to make a long story short. We had stuff on there and it was like, ‘Damn, Juvenile not even on this,’ but hey, we had to finish it.”