Posted by emynd on | August 20, 2009 | 11 Comments
Fairly thorough retrospective of Cash Money right here. I’ve also copy/pasted the text after the jump to preserve this retrospective on Nolabounce.com just in case the internet blows up and 100 years from now nolabounce.com somehow survives and Amoeblog doesn’t. I’d recommend you read the article on their blog though because of the pretty pictures.
By now, anyone that reads this blog and is a fan of the many, great New Orleans labels that sprouted in the fertile hip-hop delta back in the ’90s may’ve wondered why no Cash Money thusfar. Well, I’ve been working on it but the greatest of labels required a lot of work.Cash Money Records Independent Logo Hope you enjoy, wodie.
Back in the 1980s, the local rap scene in New Orleans began to take root with early rappers like Tim Smooth, Warren Mayes, Ninja Crew and New York Incorporated all making noise. The latter act featured Mia X, Denny D, DJ Wop and Mannie Fresh and was probably the first rap group in the city. After their dissolution, Fresh hooked up with former Ninja Crew member Gregory D and they released a handful of influential, if not very widely promoted records.
1991 was the year of the year of the bounce explosion in New Orleans, ignited by TT Tucker and DJ Irv’s famous “red tape,” “Where Dey At.” Over the next few years, several locals started their own independent labels to handle to quickly growing scene. Two such entrepreneurs were Bryan “Baby” Williams (born February 15, 1969) and Ronald “Suga Slim” Williams (born 1967). Support to start their label came from their father, who’d run Gladys’s Bar (at that point) for 27 years… and their half-brother, Terrance E. Williams (aka Gangsta), a member of the notorious Hot Boys (not to be confused with the rap group), a D-boy clique rounded out by his friends Sterling, Dooney and Mosquito. They named the label Cash Money Records, after Nino Brown’s Cash Money Brothers in the film New Jack City.
Kilo G The Sleepwalker
At first CMR only had one artist, the fifteen-year-old Kilo-G. His debut album, The Sleepwalker (1992), was produced by Ro and Goldfingers. Unlike their rivals, Take Fo’, who favored good-time bounce music, Kilo-G’s Cash Money debut was all gorey, blood-soaked horrorcore. Before they relied on local distributors like Gonzales Music and SouthWest Distribution, the Williams brothers sold copies out of their car. In bounce-loving New Orleans, the Scarface-indebted The Sleepwalker only sold a couple thousand copies.
Serendipitously, the Williams brothers were introduced by Ziggler to Wiggler to a 7th ward resident, DJ Mannie Fresh, who’d recently returned to PxMxWx Legalize “Pass the Weed”New Orleans after a stint as understudy to famed innovative house music DJ/producer Steve “Silk” Hurley (after ending his partnership with Gregory D in frustration over the way the major label handled their career). Although Fresh would at first frequently produce releases for other local labels, he became Cash Money’s in-house producer, ultimately helping them sell some 23 million records and making all of their large output during their creative heyday.
u.n.l.v. 6th & baronne
Fresh’s first effort with the label was with PxMxWx (Projects’ Most Wanted — Iberville being the project in question). PxMxWx was essentially rapper Big Man, hype man Big Heavy and Black Jack. Their debut album, Legalize “Pass the Weed” (1993), also featured new signees Lil Slim, U.N.L.V. and Mr. Ivan as well as Port Arthur, Texas’s Bun B of UGK fame.
However, PxMxWx’s release came after that of U.N.L.V.’s 6th & Barrone (1993). The uptown-based U.N.L.V. (from… 6th & Barrone) was initially Reginald “Tec-9” Manuel and Yaphet “Lil Ya” Jones, who formed in 1992 and performed at block parties, clubs and gong shows. Almost immediately after their formation they were Lil Slim The Game Is Coldjoined by the charismatic, unpredictable, drama-courting Albert “Yella Boi” Thomas. With Mannie Fresh’s bounce-inflected production and their call-and-response vocals, they created a recognizably New Orleans style of bounce-infused gangsta rap, sometimes referred to as “gangsta bounce.” With popular songs like “Eddie Bow,” it was much more successful than Kilo-G’s record, reportedly selling 40,000 with barely any promotion. It also notably included the track “UNLV Style” which accused Partners-N-Crime of jacking their style and was thus the opening salvo in CMR’s long-running war with Big Boy Records.
Hollygrove’s Lil Slim (representing Apple and Eagle) is one B-32 I Need a Bag of Dopeof New Orleans’s most underrated rappers and the uncredited influence of his style can be heard in later label successes like Lil Wayne (whom he discovered) and especially Turk. Slim performed in Club 49 alongide another “slim,” the Magnolia Slim (later Soulja Slim). The Game Is Cold (1993), is also noteworthy for its inclusion of Pimp Daddy, a local bounce rapper of considerable importance and popularity. As far as I know, this is the only tape-only Cash Money album (recorded in Baby’s kitchen), which may account for its rarity and the fact that the picture used here is the only one you can find on thePimp Daddy Still Pimpin net.
Last and, to be fair, least; Baby (as B-32) released I Need a Bag of Dope. It’s honestly not a bad album. In fact, it’s better than the rap efforts of most label heads. But Baby would go on (in my opinion) to find a distinct and superior voice in Big Tymers and in his later solo career. Here, Baby only raps/toasts/talks on four songs (which sound like Pimp Daddy had a hand in them) but Mannie Fresh’s three instrumentals, occasionally reflecting his experience with Steve Hurley, make it well worth tracking down.
U.N.L.V. Straight out tha Gutta
9th ward star Edgar “Pimp Daddy” Givens released his debut, Still Pimpin’ in 1994. Explaining Pimp Daddy’s genius isn’t an easy task. You have to listen to this album to get it and even then, maybe you won’t. At the time, Pimp Daddy was dating Cash Money’s Ms. Tee but another rapper, ex-Mobo/then-current Tombstone (and Mannie Fresh-produced) “queen of bounce” Cheeky Blakk claimed to have mothered his child. Not long after, he was shot in the face and killed while sleeping on the couch in the Florida projects.
U.N.L.V.’s second album, Straight Out Tha Gutta (1994-Cash Money Records) benefitted from cleaner production aMr. Ivan 187 In “A” Hockey Masknd was an even bigger success, selling 60,000 on the strength of jams like “Pussy C’mon Too Me!!” and “Bad Ass Yella Boy.” On the other hand, “Bangin With My ‘Pump'” is well disturbing.
Alonzo “Mr. Ivan” Newton, from Congress St. in the 9th Ward, is another of Cash Money’s uLil Slim Powder Shopnder-appreciated rappers, although it wasn’t for want of effort, with Ivan memorably performing live in a hockey mask. 187 In a Hockey Mask (1994) is solid all the way through and showcases his dynamic style in a manner somewhat reminiscent of fellow energized rappers 6 Shot and Mystikal.
Lil Slim’s Powder Shop (1994) moved away from the bounce a bit into a more narrative, gangsta-leaning territory. It was another solid release with the classic “Eagle St. Bounce.”
PxMxWx High Life
To me, PxMxWx’s High Life (1994) was much more enjoyable than the debut. Not to say the debut’s not good — it is — but, even though I no longer puff, this album still gets me high.
In 1995, Mystikal jumped ship from Big Boy and signed with Jive, but the beef raged on. Shortly after moving to New Orleans from Richmond, California, Master P hired the talent from Parkway Pumpin’ and released No Limit’s Down South Hustlers: Bouncing and Swingin’ (the first double rap CD). In the process, he helped get the attention of the major labels and the nation at large, who’d previously ignored to New Orleans.
Meanwhile, at Cash Money, many of the earliest rappers released what would be their final albums for the label as the Williams brothers began to purge most of the tKilo G The Bloody Cityalents that helped establish the label, claiming that drugs kept them from being hungry enough to expand the label’s presence beyond New Orleans. For their part, the departing artists alleged that the Suge Knight-disciple was screwing them out of their fair share.
Kilo G’s The Bloody City (1995) (with appearances from Bun B and Pimp C as well as Lil’ Slim, M$. Tee, Tec-9) was, as to be expected with Mannie Fresh on the boards, a huge improvement over his first record. Not only was it better production-wise, but Kilo-G had grown more assured and skilled as a rapper too. Although still mostly gangsta, his songs were Lil Slim Thuggin & Plugginmore grounded in reality and in a song like “Coasting,” where he sings about his son and parents, he comes off as much more reflective and mature, especially for his eighteen years.
On Lil Slim’s Thug’n & Pluggin (1995), Mannie Fresh’s production made more concessions to West Coast styles onU.N.L.V. Mac Melph Calio G-Funk flavored tracks like “Bitches Ain’t Shit,” “Gangsta Day,” “Shakem Up Shakem,” “Time to Murder” and the excellent “Hands on My Gun.” But there’s still a lot of N.O in “Live in Club Rolex (Real High)” with its heavy use of the triggerman beat and “Neighborhood Terror.” M$. Tee Having Thing$!!
U.N.L.V.’s Mac Melph Calio (1995) was another certified banger and sold 80,000 copies. To me, it’s not their best… but it’s got its charms, not the least being the scary-ass cover.
All I can say about Ms. Tee’s Having Thing$!! (1995) is that it’s not for me. She was the hook-singing songstress of the label and there’s nothing wrong with that, I just never much liked newer R&B, especially when packed with vocal runs. I tend to go for the SOS Band/Starpoint/Cherelle variety.
On the other hand, the debut from Tec-9’s (from U.N.L.V.) Straight From the Ramp!!! Tec-9 Straight From Tha Ramp!!!(1995) is great. The brash, attention-grabbing Yella Boy tended to get all the attention, but Straight From the Ramp!!!, is just so good it’sB.G.’z True Story too hard to choose even one or two or three highlights.
As Cash Money began to get rid of its early roster, it began to invest in younger rappers with presumably and potentially longer careers and more controllable personalities. At the time, their newest investment was two youngsters, thirteen-year-old Lil Doogie (Christopher “B.G.” Dorsey) and eleven-year-old Gangsta D (D’Wayne “Lil Wayne” Carter). Though credited as a duo, the B.G.z’ Tru Story (1995) (with only three songs featuring the future Lil Wayne) is owned by the future B.G., UNLV Uptown 4 Lifewho sounds remarkably fully-formed and much as he does now. On the other hand, Wayne sounds like the eager elementary school student he was.
1996 was the year No Limit records signed a $30 million deal with Priority. In July, the Williams brothers’ father died at 75 from injuries sustained in a car accident. Mannie Fresh did production for Untouchable Records’ Bone Thuggish 211 (among others) but at Cash Money made a major leap forward which he debuted with U.N.L.V.
On U.N.L.V.’s Uptown For Life (1996), Fresh created an amazing electronic landscape for the rappers, who turn one track into what is without a doubt one of the greatest songs in rap history, “Drag ‘Em “N” Tha River.” Of course, cultural watchdThe B.G.s Chopper Cityogs and other haters hate on anything that doesn’t rely simply on scratchin’ and samplin’, but that’s just haters being haters. Uptown 4 Life sold 200,000 copies and local bounce legend Juvenile decided, after hearing it, to come to Cash Money.
The B.G.s released their second record, the classic Chopper City (1996), which sold roughly 25,000 copies. Although credited to The B.G.s, in reality it’s even more of a Dorsey solo record as Wayne recovPimp Daddy Pimp’n Ain’t E-Zered after shooting himself in the chest and was taken off the label for a while by his concerned mom. With just Lil Doogie pictured on the cover, blithefully unconcerned with the rain of enormous bullets falling around him, listeners began to associate the name B.G. with Doogie and he became the B.G. Three years later, both of The B.G.z’ albums were re-released and re-credited, this time solely to B.G. Ms. Tee Female Baller
Pimp Daddy’s Pimp’n Ain’t E-Z (1996) came out a couple years after his untimely death. Obviously some of the songs date from before his death but others are more of a tribute in nature and reflect Mannie Fresh’s then-new style.
Ms. Tee released Female Baller (1996), which, no disrespect, is the only Cash Money of the era that I’ve never listened to. As I already said, it’s just not my bag! For all you R&B heads, check it out and let me know what I’m missing.
Shortly after the new year, on January 15th, Kilo-G was shot and killed in his 7th ward home. He was only twenty years old.Magnolia Shorty Monkey on the D$ck
U.N.L.V. were let go from Cash Money but didn’t go quietly. Yella Boy supposedly pistol-whipped Baby and shot holes in one of his trucks as it was parked in front of the Melpomene projects. In April, after having bought some dope from a certain D-boy, Yella Boy was shot and killed in his vehicle while parked near Washington and Dryades. He was only twenty-two years old. Cash Money moved on.
Magnolia Shorty’s Monkey on tha D$ck (1997) was the final throwback to Cash Money’s earliest years. Crude, sexual bounce with an album cover as bizarre and disturbing as any in the history of music, it may nonetheless have contained Juvenile Solja Ragsthe secrets of the universe.
After first gaining fame with bounce pioneer DJ Jimi, Juvie had undertaken a short and creatively stifling major label career for New York-based Warlock. With the sour taste of the industry in his mouth, he relegated his rap career to doins and club gigs (often at the French Quarter House of Blues) whilst working odd jobs during the day. After he heard U.N.L.V.’s “Drag ‘Em ‘N’ tha River,” he knew he wanted to rap over Fresh’s beats. After Lil Ya set up a deal with Baby, Juvie signed and soon after delivered Solja Rags (1997-Cash Money). Although Juvie’s never made a less-than-good album, Solja Rags captures the heart and souls of hundreds of thousands of soljas who donned solja rags in solidarity and helped it sell 200,000 copies.
B.G. It’s All on U Vol. 2
Although it may’ve seemed like a daunting task for B.G., notHot Boys Get It How U Live It to mention the incredibly prolific Mannie Fresh, It’s All on U Volume 1 and 2 were released within four short months. Remarkably, in a genre known for a plethora of filler and skits, both were tight as a gnat’s chuff.
With B Gizzle and Juvie riding high, the label formed the Hot Boys with them, newcomer Turk and the recently-returned Lil Wayne. At the end of the year they released Get It How U Live!! (1997), which sold about 75,000. By then, Cash Money was just them, Baby and Mannie Fresh. The latter two formed Big Tymers, who dropped How You Love That (1998). I’ve still got the T-Shirt. How you love that?
Baby, Slim and Lil Wayne yearned to sign a deal with a major. Mannie Fresh and Juvenile, having experienced the Big Tymers How You Love Thatcreative disappointments of such a relationship, supposedly didn’t. Nonetheless, on June 18, 1998, Universal Records signed an estimate $30 million deal with Cash Money. The label went on to release B.G.’s “Bling Bling” and Juvenile’s “Back That Azz Up” plus a load of other absolute classic masterpieces. However, a few years later there was another purge/mass defection, with B.G. leaving in 2000, followed by Turk, Juvenile and ultimately, the seeming glue that held it all together, Mannie Fresh.
On June 24, 1999, Cash Money’s muscle, “Gangsta” (Terrence E. Williams), was sentenced to life plus 240 years for Continued Criminal Enterprise and conspiracy to solicit murder. By that point, Sterling, Dooney and Mosquito were all dead.
Few could’ve guessed that Cash Money, reduced to a vanity label for Birdman and Lil “Birdman Jr” Wayne would continue to achieve even greater financial success with a ringtone-oriented pop rap that would make them both household names.
In a final note, Ivan Alonzo Newton (Mr. Ivan) died on December 19, 2007 of AIDS-related complications at just 34 years old. Any news on Lil Slim, Magnolia Shorty, Ms. Tee or PxMxWx is welcome, as are any corrections/additions. Please just politely comment and include a source. Don’t expect me to necessarily get at you. Thanks!