Mannie Fresh Remembers Soulja Slim: “He Took Rap To A Whole Other Level”

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Today (Nov. 26) marks the tenth anniversary of the day that Soulja Slim was shot to death in the front lawn of his mother’s house in New Orleans, one of hip-hop’s most tragic unsolved murders. Slim, who started out in New Orleans’ Magnolia Projects as Magnolia Slim, worked with many of Louisiana’s finest musicians during his time, from Juvenile to B.G. to Master P and Mannie Fresh, making his mark on a region that was dominant in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

“He was just somebody who took rap to a whole other level,” Mannie Fresh says during a phone call with XXL. ”You knew all his raps and most of the stories he was saying was true to life. It was a real experience.”

Fresh, who worked with Slim during their Cash Money days, called Slim one of the few “tell-it-like-it-is” rappers in the game, something that was lost after Slim died at the age of 26. “With Hurricane Katrina and all that kind of stuff happening, you needed somebody to rally for your city, to tell that story,” Fresh says. “Since Hurricane Katrina, we didn’t really have nobody that said, ‘I’m gonna tell New Orleans’ story, and I’m gonna stick to New Orleans.’ And what I do admire most about Slim was that he was not a follower. He kept it New Orleans.”

Just after his death, Juvenile’s song “Slow Motion,” which Slim wrote and was featured on, skyrocketed to the summit of the Billboard Hot 100, making Slim one of the few artists to ever hit No. 1 posthumously. “It was truly sad; you knew the potential of what this young kid could have been,” Fresh remembers about the day Slim was killed. “And he was just starting to blow, the world was just starting to pay attention to him. And you knew where he was headed. It was a sad moment in hip-hop. Even right now, that music is timeless. If you drop a Magnolia Slim song in New Orleans, they rally for that.”

As for Fresh, he’s splitting his time DJing and getting back in the studio, reportedly readying tracks with Wiz Khalifa, Mos Def and, perhaps, a Hot Boys reunion. “I’m really working hard at regaining Mannie Fresh as a household name,” he says. “But for me, it’s always been the long road. What the long road means is if I gotta go city to city, town to town or whatever it is, that’s what I gotta do.”

Previously: Soulja Slim, “Life Goes On” (Originally Published January/February 2005)
XXL Editor-In-Chief Vanessa Satten’s 25 Best Soulja Slim Songs
Mannie Fresh Has Hot Boys, Mos Def And Wiz Khalifa Projects Coming Up

  • Shay

    I always wondered what happened to Mannie. He was to southern rap what Timbaland was to VA R&B & Hip Hop. His throwback beats are still timeless.