Greatest Southern Artists of all Time
Words AJ Woodson / Photo Jonathan Mannion
5 ESSENTIAL B.G. TRACKS B.G. “True Story” True Story 1995 Pre-Mannie Fresh, the title cut of his first album set it all in motion for the Baby Gangsta. B.G. “Get Your Shine On” It’s All On U Vol. 1 & 2 1997 A hot-ass club tune. End of story. B.G. f/ Big Tymers & Hot Boys “Bling Bling” Chopper City in the Ghetto 1999 B.G.’s most well-known single became hip-hop vernacular. The term “bling-bling” has been thrown around by everyone from Paris Hilton to Jay-Z, so much so that the Oxford English dictionary has now recognized and added the terminology. B.G. “Cash Money Is An Army” Chopper City in the Ghetto 1999 On this track, B.G. truly began to blossom as an MC, and Mannie Fresh perfected his patented style. B.G. “With Tha B.G.” Chopper City in the Ghetto 1999 B.G. shines on this mellow autobiographical joint spiked with intricate twists. The track highlights his seemingly nonchalant flow and distinctive nasal drawl.
et me paint you a quick picture. You sign to New Orleans-based independent label Cash Money Records at the age of eleven, when most of your peers are just trying to deal with puberty. You’re on a road to destruction, keeping yourself occupied by stealing cars and doing things that would break your mama’s heart. Getting offered a record deal at such an early age was probably the best and worst thing that could’ve happened to you.
The record deal gives you a much-needed outlet to express yourself and tell your story, but you’re also exposed to a lifestyle of fast cash, loose women, and drugs that has beat down and totally destroyed many artists twice your age. You release six solo albums before your 18th birthday. Your debut, True Story, is a semi-autobiographical account of your coming-of-age in the poverty-ridden streets of uptown New Orleans. Over the next five years, you release an album each year, including one as a member of the Hot Boys. By the time you turn 18, your label has finally signed a major distribution deal with Universal Records. Your first nationally-distributed album, Chopper City in the Ghetto, debuts at number nine on the Billboard Top 200. Your single, “Bling Bling,” becomes a street anthem and before you know it, blows up nationally. Then, the business begins to destroy your perception of the “family” you thought you were a part of. Those who you looked up to and thought had ya back weren’t breakin’ you off with ya skrilla the way they were supposed to. You’re barely 21, and already experiencing the hip-hop equivalent of a mid-life crisis. You left mom’s crib at just 14. You step away from the cats you used to be down with, the cats you used to rock stages with. Now you’re standing on lonely stages without your crew and going for dolo. You start to feel isolated, kinda like Ice Cube probably did when he quit N.W.A.
Many artists who have experienced far less haven’t survived. They’ve disappeared in this what-have-you-done-lately business of hip-hop. But somehow, you maintain. Your fans continue to support you. The streets continue to embrace you. You show the whole world that there is, in fact, life after Cash Money.
a nigga feel real good,” beams B.G. “They’ve got some great artists in the South, so to be considered one of the greatest by OZONE Magazine makes a nigga feel real good about himself, fa’ sure.”
Before, others were handling your business, and all you had to do was pick up a mic. The only thing you had to worry about was writing rhymes and rocking the mic. Now, you’re basically starting over. You have to pick up the pieces and build your own empire. Now, you’re the H.N.I.C., and mad heads are depending on you to sign their check.
B.G. just turned 25, and he’s already 12 years deep in the business. He’s released nine solo albums to date, plus two more albums with the Hot Boys. He’s recorded enough collaborations to fill five CDs, and he’s also got a rap sheet that’s almost as long as his string of hits. One thing you can’t deny is that B-Gizzle truly qualifies as The Heart Of The Streetz, as the title of his upcoming independently released album implies.
You started in this business as a kid, and now you have a kid. Sounds like a great plot in a book, or a screenplay for movie-of-the-week. But it’s not fiction, it’s the life and times of the Hot Boy alumni. There’s a reason why he’s called B.G.: Baby Gangsta.
He’s overcome poverty, a rough childhood, a bad record deal, incarceration, drug addiction, and much more. The fact that B.G. is still producing hits nearly a decade after he first dropped as a teenager is a testament to his musical abilities.
“I’m more in control now,” says B.G. “It’s me, it’s my operation. Back then I was just an artist and I didn’t know what was going on. Now, I’m an artist and a CEO. I’m more in the loop of what’s goin’ on. Before I was just working. Whatever they’d tell me to do, I did, because I thought we were a family. But at the same time, they was pimpin’ a nigga on some slick shit. I was signed to people I thought was family. Now I know that it’s 90% business, 10% talent. You could be the coldest nigga out, but if ya business ain’t on point, you won’t make it. Nowadays, I’ve got my business right.”
He went from being an eleven-year old troublemaker to the originator of the term “bling-bling.” Today, the phrase has become symbolic of the entire Cash Money movement. “Bling bling” is used by clueless newscasters and journalists across the country to describe anything hip-hop related. The phrase was even added to the dictionary. How many rappers can say they’re responsible for additions to the dictionary?
Unfortunately, getting his business right meant parting ways with his rhyming partners Lil Wayne, Juvenile, and Turk. Juvenile and Turk also departed from Cash Money, and as Lil Wayne grows older and gains more independence, fans are still hoping that a Hot Boys reunion album is possible. You can’t talk about the greatest Southern artists without mentioning his name. B.G. was certainly one of the most prolific teenagers in music history, not just in hip-hop. “That makes
B.G. knows that the story of his life would be a great screenplay for a dramatic movie, and that’s exactly what he plans to do with his experiences. Look out for the DVD of his life, coming soon. It’ll cover everything he’s been through in life thus far. “I’m not ashamed of my past,” says B.G. “I’m a real nigga. The shit I’ve been through has made me the man I am today.” He’s currently finishing up his label Chopper City’s three-album deal with distributor Koch Records and preparing to renegotiate for future releases. Over the years B.G. has proved he has staying power and the skills to pay the bills. OZONE APR 2005
Ozone Mag #33 - Apr 2005