“Growing up in the 80s I was a hip-hop kid. I was into Doug E. Fresh, Whodini…I was on everything that was popping around that time. And I was a huge Hurby Luv Bug fan. I loved the [production] he did for Dana Dane and Sweet Tee. My whole style can be traced back to the influence of New Orleans bounce music. This was like the early stages of hip-hop in the way that it was created…just a chopped up 808, a break beat and an MC. But another influence on me was Mantronix. Their style was very futuristic, so I incorporated that as well as Grand Master Flash’s [synthesized keyboard] sound. Just from me DJing in the club I knew that people were excited about certain sounds; the music that got the party started.
Greg D. was that dude that bothered the shit out of you like, ‘Man, I really need to rap.’ That’s what really drove me to work with him. He was a dude that stayed in the studio all day until we got the song completed. A lot of people would say that Greg’s style kind of irritated them into liking him. And he really did [laughs]. He would do a style over and over again until you liked it. When I was working with Gregory D the crazy thing is there was an earlier way to tracking songs. If you wanted to use a loop you made it with the actual record. We didn’t have samplers, so you had to loop that break over and over again. I didn’t even know you had to pay for samples around this time. I wasn’t thinking that way. That’s what you hear on those earlier songs with Gregory. I liked the way the old formats of hip-hop songs were made. I would later bring a lot of that style to Cash Money.”
“I knew Baby (aka Birdman) from the streets because I DJ’d all over New Orleans before I even joined up with Cash Money. I was all in their territory and in their projects. U.N.L.V. was signed to Cash Money, so I already knew what they were doing. I just wanted to be a part of it. U.N.L.V. had a movement going on; Juvenile had something going on that was really underground. I was like, ‘How can I get my hands in this?’ I felt it was the next big movement. I was even more excited about meeting U.N.L.V. than meeting Baby because I thought they would enhance my DJ thing to a whole other level.
When we did all those U.N.L.V. songs you could hear the era of those songs. We did that music on a 4-track. It was like some old Motown shit—one take [laughs]. It was like, ‘Okay, I got one track to do the beat, another track to do the bassline…now we have two tracks left…y’all gotta pass the mic around.’ When you look back at those times you laugh. Yet we still got the job done.”
“I think those B.G. albums shaped Cash Money’s sound. He was the one that said, ‘Okay, I don’t just do bounce music…I can actually rap more than just one style.’ So B.G. made me do different things production wise. Bounce was an easy thing to do. All you had to do was find some 808 and some breaks. It was basic call-and-response that got the party started. When I DJ’d I used to get my 808 and run my Moog keyboard with it. Everybody in New Orleans got used to it. People would be like, ‘Man, turn on the drum machine!’ I used to do it for 45 minutes every time I DJ’d. I would make up my own little basslines with the 808 beats. You had other crews starting to do it. Suddenly it became the thing you had to do if you were a producer in New Orleans. But when B.G. came along he added some new flavor to it.
He would give me four bars of his rap, and I would tell him, ‘Dude, this beat has to sound more sinister.’ I even had to scratch a few tracks I already had because they didn’t match up to his street lyrics. You couldn’t do regular bounce songs with B.G. He was that kid that wrote raps day and night. It got to the point I would have to tell him, ‘Dude, go home.’ When you have people like that around you it makes you want to work harder.”
“It was my idea to create the Hot Boys. Like I said, I grew up on old school rap. So I told Baby that we should do something in which their rhyme skills could match what Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel did…the coming in and coming out style of rhyming. It would be phenomenal. And it hadn’t been done in a long time. There was a lot of talent in the Hot Boys—Juvenile, Turk, B.G…I knew that the group would sell each other. You put these guys together and everyone would be able to go platinum with a solo album. But meeting Lil Wayne was a trip. Just from the way he spoke you knew he was a bright kid. But what really impressed me about Wayne was he refused to curse. He was just like, ‘I can do this…but there are certain things I just can’t say.’ I was very doubtful about working with Wayne because he was very young. The Hot Boys was doing street music, so how would a Lil Wayne fit in? But it worked because of his witty wordplay…Wayne was brilliant.
The great thing is none of us was scared to say that we had idols. Wayne’s idol was Missy Elliott. He loved everything that Missy did. He loved that hee-hee-hee-hee-ha thing she would do. He just enhanced her style into his own thing and developed his own little wordplay from that. But he almost didn’t get to make it on that Hot Boys album. I remember Wayne’s grades were slipping. And his mom was like, ‘You can’t rap anymore.’ This kid cried his eyes out. He did everything he could do to get back into the Hot Boys. It made me realize that Wayne really loved rapping. When his dad passed away, Cash Money became his vice. Music was his vice. If it wasn’t for hip-hop we don’t know what would have happened to Wayne.
Songs like ‘We On Fire’ changed the whole direction of southern hip-hop. I was doing my homework with what was going on. At that time you had Outkast and Organized Noize killing it; they made you say, “Damn, this is real music, now. It’s time to take it somewhere else.’ How do you compete with somebody like Outkast? You have to do something that’s so unique that it’s crazy. Atlanta had its own sound, so we needed to do our own thing. Who was the best MC on the first Hot Boys album? I think it was even. But if you forced me I would say Wayne killed it. He was so eager to get on those songs. He was the one that would say, ‘Oh, you need a hook here? I know what to say.’ Juvenile was also incredible. He had so many layers to him as rapper. Get It How U Live is still a great album to this day.”
“Even before Cash Money got that $30 million deal with Universal I felt we were destined to do big things. I didn’t feel any pressure at all. But nobody had any idea that 400 Degreez was going to do what it was going to do. When me and Juvenile were recording it we knew we had music that could compete with anyone in the industry. We knew if Universal really pushed us it would be phenomenal. And that’s what happened.
The crazy thing about ‘Ha’ was it was the last song recorded for 400 Degreez. I told Juve, ‘We need one one more song. I got this beat that I did the other night and this shit is crazy.’ When I played the beat for Juve he told me that he had a rhyme that was already written, but it was pretty far out. But when he started doing the rap to it I was like, ‘That’s it! We can officially close this album out.
Juve’s [rhyme cadence] on ‘Ha’ was crazy. No one had ever heard anyone rap like that. It was almost like [spoken word]. Juve just didn’t think nobody would get it. He was like, ‘I’ve said this rhyme before at some New Orleans parties. I know they rocked it. But I don’t think anybody else in the world was going to understand it.’ But I knew all along that people were going to get it. But when Jay-Z asked to get on the remix that right there solidified Cash Money. We knew we had landed. I remember sitting in the office and Baby was like, ‘Man, Jay-Z called about getting on the remix to ‘Ha.’ And I’m like, ‘Man, stop fucking lying.’ But Baby just says, ‘Nah…for real…we are going to send him the track and he’ll send it back.’ The crazy thing is when they sent Jay-Z’s rap back they had a part at the end of the song where he said, ‘Jay-Z and Juvenile, ha?’ I knew I had to use that! I took it and sampled it and put at the beginning of ‘Ha.’
A song like ‘Back That Azz Up’ was easy to do because I knew what the clubs wanted to hear. But that wasn’t the first beat we did for it. It had Juve’s same rap that he did, but two days later I ended up adding more sounds to it. At first Juve didn’t understand it. He asked me, ‘Man, why would you change it like that?’ And I told him, ‘Dude, this song is going to go over better by me taking some classical music and putting it over that 808 beat.’ And this is not really a prejudice statement, but I knew the white folks were going to get it [laughs]. I knew it was going to be a huge song.
Juve represents what I miss from a lot of MC’s. When we did 400 Degreez 90 percent of those songs Juve knew already. He had mastered those songs. Today it’s more of I’m going to write this song in the studio. But I like people that practice their craft…that’s serious about the music. That was part of the magic of 400 Degreez. [Juvenile’s 400 Degreez became one of Cash Money’s biggest selling albums pushing over a remarkable 4 million copies.]
B.G. was really lyrical and it was still street rhymes and it was raw as it gets. I thought, ‘Wow, I have to do something to compliment him and his style.’ It was time to start producing for real [laughs]. I remember when B.G. came out with the It’s All on U album the world was like, ‘Oh my goodness!’ Because before that we were doing only bounce music, but it was just a Louisiana culture thing. But when B.G. came out with It’s All on U people outside of New Orleans started saying, ‘Alright, we are paying attention to y’all.’ B.G. was eager.
IHand on the bible. When I came up with the music and hook for B.G.’s ‘Bling Bling’ I knew it was going to change things. Since that song came out we’ve had this little thing about who came up with the chorus. Wayne said he wrote it and I said that I wrote it. Now Wayne did rhyme in one of his songs, ‘Tell me what dude that had diamonds that a bling-blind ya…’ Yes, he did say that. But the actual hook on ‘Bling Bling’, the part that goes, Every time I come around your city, bling-bling. I wrote that, and everybody else said, ‘Yeah. Mannie wrote that. When I came out of the studio from my house that’s the way I presented it. I was smiling like a kid in a candy store. I knew it was the one.
But the real story is ‘Bling Bling’ was never supposed to be a B.G. song. It was really a Big Tymers (the duo comprised of Mannie Fresh and Baby) song. But after I listened to B.G.’s entire album, I told Baby that we were not going to be able to sell this dude because he was so hardcore street. I had to give him something that would get him to the masses. We wanted everyone to pay attention to B.G. because he was always a street artist. The question was how do we get B.G. a platinum album? I just told Baby, ‘We have to give him this song.’ We collectively agreed that ‘Bling Bling’ would be added to B.G.’s album. I knew he had crossed over when the whole thing became super corny [laughs]. You had airline companies saying, ‘Bling bling.’ You would see old white ladies saying, ‘I got my bling bling on…’ When you hear Oprah going ‘bling bling’ you just had to say, ‘Wow.’ It was to the point that you didn’t even want to say that word no more. When something is overdone that’s when you know you’ve arrived.
Where did I get the idea for the time changes on ‘Cash Money Is An Army?’ I grew up listening to everything. I grew up with time changes from listening to a lot of rock songs. You listen to some of those early Hot Boys songs and they are reminiscent of the [drums] in a Rush song. I knew that not many in the hip-hop world would even look to those rock songs because they didn’t grow up like that. Those time changes are all over B.G.’s Chopper City in the Ghetto. If I meet you and you are a good MC I feel like I can’t let you beat me out. I feel like I have to do everything I have to do to make sure that my beat is just as hard as you. And that’s how I felt with B.G. He was in a zone on [Chopper]. There were plenty of sessions whether it was B.G., Juve, Wayne or Turk where they did a song and came back a few days later and heard a different song. They would come back and be like, ‘Well, that ain’t the song that we did….you done changed the music.’ But I had to tell them, ‘Well, you came too hard on this record…I had to change the music.’”
“When I was working on Guerrilla Warfare I was trying to get the Hot Boys to listen to the pattern of an old school rap song. We were sitting listening to ‘Flash To The Beat.’ And I was like, ‘Man, this is where we are going to copy the rhyme pattern off of…you go first, you go second and then you go third, and he goes fourth. We are going to keep on going in and out throughout the song.’ But when I was playing that Grandmaster Flash song they were like, ‘Man, what is this? Nobody don’t do no shit like this anymore. Why would we do this?’ But I told them, ‘Man, this is going to be a great moment in hip-hop.’ That song turned out to be ‘We On Fire.’ Everybody was like, ‘Man, this shit is so creative.’
We were still hungry. When you got a bunch of great minds in the room and they compliment each other that’s what can happen. To me it was the same unity you heard on Snoop Dogg’s first album. Everyone that was involved in the making of Doggystyle will tell you, ‘Yeah, we were all on one accord….it was about making this album the best that it could be.’ If you interviewed everybody about Guerrilla Warfare they would tell you the same thing. What can we do to make the best album we can make? Even with me Juve…we had our early quarrels. He would tell you, ‘Mannie is a perfectionist…he won’t let up until you do what he wants.’ But I’m not really a tyrant [laughs]. I’m just somebody that wants the best out of the session. Just look at the results.”
“What I was trying to get out of Wayne’s first solo album was energy. I knew that his album had to be energetic from beginning to end. On top of that, he was this character that the world fell in love with. You had parents and kids that responded to Lil Wayne for the simple fact that he did not curse. But he was still in touch with the streets, which was crazy. So I knew musically I had to go a little bit overboard for Wayne. [The title track] was a sinister song, but that was only on the surface. When you listen to the actual music there’s a lot going on. It keeps you moving. You can’t explain it to the new producers today that don’t have a DJ background. But certain sounds make people move like breaks in a song and changing time patterns. That’s what the women like. The girls like to hear all the snare rolls and stuff because they can move to that. Everything else just goes along with it. Wayne was the perfect MC for that.
Back then, as far as equipment, I was using the SP-1200 and my Ensoniq EPS keyboard. I was just comfortable with that sound. My first time meeting Kanye West I was using that same equipment. Kanye actually came down with me before he was even doing beats for a living. He was down with a rapper named Mickey from Chicago, who later signed to Cash Money. We became cool. Kanye asked me, ‘Man, do you have an old keyboard and drum machine I can use?’ I told him, ‘Here man…you can use my equipment.’ The first song I heard Kanye make he used my keyboard and had this old sample. And I’m watching him triggering the sample with his hand while this beat was playing. And I was like, ‘This dude right here got something.’ I’m telling Baby, ‘Yo, we should deal with this dude Kanye. He’s crazy with this samples.’ But for whatever reason it didn’t work out, but that kid Mickey ended up staying with Cash Money. But you know how you think you have seen the future? That’s what I felt about Kanye West.”
“What made the Big Tymers believable was it wasn’t too much thought into it. Me and Baby were just dudes that was just saying whatever. That’s what made I Got That Work such a good, fun album. We wasn’t pretending to be super artistic; we wasn’t pretending to be hardcore rappers. We just told you what you’ve been wanting to say forever. We were talking about our dreams and ambitions and how we were going to make it. Just look at the video for ‘Get Your Roll On.’ It was important to stand by what we were saying. That was part of the whole allure of the Big Tymers. Everybody was like: The Big Tymers’ are really not lying to you. They are really doing doughnuts in Lambos.’ [Laughs] That’s what made the music super believable. And I would say at that time the world wanted some heroes. Black kids wanted somebody they could believe in that was from the ghetto that was right from the same place they were from.
When it came to Big Tymer songs I knew all the beats had to be almost three times better than what Baby and me were saying. Because we weren’t rappers. The beat had to be phenomenal to where you were not really paying attention to what we are saying. You just love the beat, but then you realize what we are talking about. I always thought that way when it came to the Big Tymers. I could tell Baby, ‘The subject today is we are going to talk about the whales.’ And Baby would still talk about jewelry [laughs]. So I knew some kind of way I had to do the Jedi mind-trick on Baby.”
“Wayne came up with the 500 Degreez title, which was a response to Juvenile’s 400 Degreez. It was kind of a hurtful situation because Wayne really, really looked up to Juvenile. So when Juve left Cash Money he did an interview in which he slammed everybody. And we were all looking at each other like, ‘Well, damn…you problem was with Baby. It wasn’t with us.’ So to Wayne it felt like a betrayal. When he was making the new album Wayne wanted to say, ‘You know what Juve? I can do better than you.’ You have to understand that when Juve left Cash Money, the world was like, ‘Man, it’s over for them. Their biggest star is gone.’ So we all wanted to keep it moving.
I wanted to use Dennis Edward’s ‘Don’t Look Any Further’ for Wayne’s ‘Way of Life’ because that record was already proven. Everybody touched that song. I felt like so far nobody has struck out with that song. [Rakim] didn’t strike out…and Biggie didn’t strike out. So how could we strike out with it? And I was still DJing at the time and I remember that [Junior Mafia] being one of the hottest records whenever I played it during my set. If it was anything we were going to sample it had to be [‘Don’t Look Any Further’]. And it worked out.”
“I promise you right now I knew ‘Still Fly’ was going to be a hit. But Baby fought me tooth and nail on that song. Everybody at the label was like, ‘Dude, you are tripping. We don’t know what you are doing on this song. You really have gone nuts.’ But making ‘Still Fly’ was a memorable moment for Cash Money. I was literally at the studio by myself because no one wanted anything to do with that song. They thought I was on one talking about gator boots and pimped out Gucci suits [laughs]. But the song had a deeper meaning. So finally Baby says, ‘Tell me what makes you feel so strongly about the song?’ And I told him: ‘Dude, ‘Still Fly’ is about everyday life for all people…black people, white people, brown people, everybody.’ We live check to check. We buy things that we know we can’t afford yet we can’t pay the rent. I knew this shit was going to be heartfelt. Because this is where we all came from. Sometimes you forget what it was like to struggle because we had it good at that point.
So when ‘Still Fly’ came out, it caught on so quick that it was crazy to Baby and them. The album charted [no. 1 pop] in no time. The song was everywhere. Even Universal was like, ‘We don’t get it…how is this happening?’ Sometimes a good song will help people come to their reality without exposing themselves. Think about it. We are doing shows, the curtain open and there’s a bunch of white folks singing the words to ‘Still Fly.’ And then you meet these people and they are telling you, ‘Dude, that’s me.’ [laughs] With everybody talking about how Cash Money was over, I knew I had to do something that was so left field that people would take notice.”
“The first time Juve recorded ‘In My Life’ I told him to re-do it. I remember telling him, ‘Man, you are drunk…you are slurring your words.’ Juve’s telling me how I think I know everything. How I always try to control things. But I told him, ‘Dude, this has nothing to do with you beefing with me or Baby. You wrote the shit wrong. When we make music we are not beefing.’ He did another version and I told him to re-do it again. So we got into a fight right then and there. It was really heated. But there was dudes in Juve’s crew that was like, ‘Yo, Mannie’s right. You should listen to dude. He’s not just picking on you. He’s trying to make the best song he can as possible.’ When Juve re-wrote it for the third time we finally laid it down. He saw how serious I was as a producer.”
“I think Wayne always wanted to be more lyrical, but he was held back by the whole stereotype of Cash Money. The whole thing of you had to do or say it this way because that’s what Cash Money would do.’ Wayne was already a nice lyricist. He already had songs that were incredible. But he was in a box. I remember when we did the first Carter album that was a critical point for Cash Money. There was one night when me and Baby were at a club. We were getting ready to start Tha Carter. And I was like, ‘If we don’t deliver right now we are done.’ I told Wayne, ‘Dude, you have to step your game up.’ That also meant on the production side. We all had to do something that showed growth. And Wayne came through. He knew all of his raps already. He just had to deliver them. I was simply building the songs around his raps.
‘Go D.J.’ saved Cash Money. Wayne knew that I had this song with U.N.L.V. back in the days that had a part in it that went, ‘Go D.J., that’s my DJ.’ It was a part that everybody liked to rhyme to. Everybody in Louisiana already loved that song, so it was already proven.’ It was Wayne’s idea to use it. He did his homework and came up with a brilliant hook. ‘Go D.J.’ hit instantly. The New York DJ’s loved to play that song. Nobody hadn’t given homage to the DJ in a long time when ‘My DJ’ came out. So I was like, ‘The DJ is about to lose his damn mind with this song.’ [laughs] For a lot of people that first Carter record became their favorite Wayne album.”
“I think my mind was moving in way too many places to even make a solo album. I don’t know how many songs I had on that record. I’m usually the guy that goes this beat is for Juve, this beat is for Wayne, this beat is was B.G. and Turk. Somebody let me into a studio and let me do my own album. I’m like, ‘Dude, you gotta stop me. You can’t let me go wild.’ [Laughs] But I do love that album. Regardless what anyone else says it showed a lot of different styles from me. I could give you something political. I could tell you how I felt about my Mayor in New Orleans. I had everything on there. It was a one-time-of-my-life song…that song was so heartfelt for me. I knew I was blessed with a lot of material things, but at the same time it’s not the most important thing to me. Like I said, the most important thing to me in the world to me is family. The Mind of Mannie Fresh was something that really hit home for me.
But when I dropped the album I started noticing some things. I had ‘Real Big,’ which was the first single. But at the time, Cash Money started doing stuff that became a conflict with my album. Baby was shooting videos. I remember publicists that was working the project was like, ‘Why are we working Baby’s video and he doesn’t even have an album out right now?’ All eyes were supposed to be on this Mannie album. We could break ‘Real Big’ to some good numbers. But Baby was ready to go to another single. I’m like, ‘Why?’ To a certain degree I felt like I grew up with Baby. Yes, Cash Money is your company…you making money, but I feel sabotaged right now. The eye was not on you. You won’t let me have my 15 minutes. I just didn’t understand. The whole thing was crazy.
And on top of that there was money issues. I always paid attention to the music. Then Hurricane Katrina came along. I was in Canada doing shows during that time, and the crazy thing was nobody in Cash Money had really left out of state to do their own thing. So I knew what the potential was. I started taking care of my own business. I’ll give you a perfect example. I got a call for a show and the guy was like, ‘I want you and the Big Tymers. Is that two different fees?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, if you want me to perform my album right now that’s another thing. If you want me to come up with Baby we can come up with fee.’ So the guy calls me back and says, ‘Well, do you want me to send you a deposit for the Big Tymers and for your thing?’ I tell the guy, ‘Yes, send me a deposit.’ So he sends me a deposit for the Big Tymers, which was about $15 grand. So I’m telling him, ‘Yo…you sent me Baby’s money as well.’ And he’s like, ‘Nah I sent you your money, too.’ I didn’t say anything else…I just waited it out and we did the show.
So I’m talking to Baby and I ask him, ‘Yo, what have you been booking the shows for? You been telling me you been getting $15,000 for the Big Tymers.’ And he was like, ‘Yeah, that’s what we’ve been getting.’ So I make the call to the booker and he was like, ‘Well, I’ve been booking ya’ll for $30,000 a show.’ So I addressed the issue with Baby. I’m telling him, ‘Hey man, you’ve been telling me that it’s 15 and I’ve been giving you part of the 15! I never thought you would be that person.’ That was hurtful. All of that started making me pay attention to what was going on with the business. I had to take my face out of the drum machine and keyboards and start looking at my paper work. I realized, damn…I’ve been doing the music so long I forgot to get paid.
Me and Baby talked about this on several different occasions. I told him that before this whole thing goes crazy let’s straighten it out. I felt like Cash Money had every opportunity in the world to straighten it out. I thought that we were brothers. If we are just going to ignore it what else is there to do? I just ended up leaving. I’m not going to hold a grudge against Baby. I don’t hate none of them. I still see everyone at Cash Money as brothers. We all still talk. But I had to move on.” [During his June 11, 2011 headlining set at Bonnaroo, Lil Wayne invited Fresh onstage in a show of solidarity. The two embraced for the first time since the producer’s public falling out with Cash Money in 2005.]
“You had so many people in the rap world looking to work with me, but they couldn’t because Cash Money was sheltering me. I would run into people after I left Cash Money and they would tell me, ‘Yo, we’ve been calling over there like forever to get a Mannie Fresh track.’ That message was never given to me [laughs]. I’m talking about cats like the Game, who was coming up. But Cash Money would just say they would get back to them. The person that really helped me after I left Cash Money was Jazze Pha. Me and Jazze had always been the best friends in the world. So he would tell me, ‘Man, it’s going on in Atlanta. I can hook you up with some people.’ And Jazze started bringing me around the studios and introducing me to cats like, ‘Mannie is free. He can do his thing now.’
Jazze was the one that introduced me to Young Jeezy. I didn’t have any tracks that were lined up. We did ‘And Then What’ in the studio right then and there. I was like, ‘Tell me how the song goes.’ When he said his rhyme I did the beat, but what’s funny is when I did that boom-boom-clap part there was some dudes in the room that was telling Jeezy, ‘Man, that’s kind of crazy. You too street for this.’ But I’m telling Jeezy, ‘Trust me…this is going to be the most memorable part of this song. Just listen to me. There’s a process in making things a radio song. You got the streets…now let’s go get the world.’ Later on when that part of the song came on at concerts and Jeezy felt the whole stage moving he knew what I said was true.”
“I always did love T.I. I got Tip to come to the studio and tried to convince Baby and Slim to sign him. And they were like, ‘Man, I don’t really feel him.’ But I knew he was going to be one of the great ones. I thought he was going to be Cash Money’s new Juvenile. Tip would hang around the studio all day, but Baby and Slim wouldn’t even talk to him. So I apologized to Tip and I was like, ‘Man, whatever you need from me I got you.’ By the time his second album [Trap Muzik] came out and it blew up, T.I. remembered me. He was like, ‘You know what? I appreciate you sticking up for me. Let’s do some music.’
The first record we did was a song called The Greatest,’ but it wasn’t a single. Then we did ‘Top Back,’ which wasn’t even supposed to be a single. It was just one of those songs that got crazy play. He even got a Chevy commercial off of that song. So after that Tip was like, ‘Mannie, you are my go-to dude.’ Then we did ‘Big Shot Poppin’. It was further proof that me and T.I. had real chemistry. People now saw that I could go outside of Cash Money and make hits for other people. People acted like it was shocking. But you have to think about it. When music downloading got crazy and A&R dudes started stealing budget money you had all of these young producers that was doing songs for $300. That was the death of the super producers [laughs]. It wasn’t like we fell off or something. It was just the younger generation killed the industry. And in order to survive you have to re-invent yourself.”
“This album was just me putting out some music. I was just trying to let people know this is what I still do. But the cool thing that came with the Return of the Ballin’ album was that it was cheap for me to do, but I had some pretty nice profits from it. It showed me that I was still a credible artist. I read all the blogs that was talking about the album and it made me realize, ‘Damn, it ain’t nobody that disagrees with me. Mannie is still that cool dude.’ It’s nothing wrong with being humble. I remember when I was putting together the cover for the album and my friends were like, ‘Dude, look at the artwork on this shit???’ And I’m telling them that it doesn’t matter. You are not basing the music off of what the artwork looks like. It should be about the music.
I got some unknown cats that I thought was talented. I was like, ‘Hey, I’m going to give y’all a chance. Let’s put some good music out.’ It showed me I have a big enough fanbase that I don’t have to sell a million copies. But you have people that still love you and that will go out and support you and show up for shows. Now I have embraced this whole digital thing. I’m an old school dude. I fought the Internet forever…I fought Twitter forever. But now I realize that you cannot survive without it. So I felt, ‘You know what? I’m going to start putting out my little webisodes with me working in the studio.
The thing with me, Mystikal, and Juvenile that shit came out two weeks ago and now it’s spreading mad crazy. Now I’m beating them two up like, “What is wrong with y’all? Do you not see what’s going on? This is something that the world wants!’ I read the blogs and people are saying dude we miss this. This is what we want. We keep getting the same songs…the same shit over and over again. The world knows that Juvenile and Mystikal are two seasoned artists. They know how to make albums…they are the J. Cole of their eras. The world wants that feeling right now. My thing right now is getting Juvenile and Mystikal back in the studio. Let’s start our movement. Let’s do it the same way these youngsters are doing it.”