VIBE spotlights music’s most essential timepieces for Gen Y. You gon’ learn today.
Get It How U Live! (1997)
Elevator Pitch: Twenty years ago, while Atlanta, Texas, and Florida had already begun to establish themselves as hotbeds for southern hip-hop, New Orleans was beginning to make its presence known on the national scene. Master P and his No Limit movement may have nudged the door open with a string of multi-platinum albums, but little did we know that a rival crew out of the N.O. named Cash Money would be the ones to truly kick down the door and become the strongest unit below the Mason-Dixon line. With a roster that included flagship artist B.G., coveted free agent Juvenile, youngsters Turk and Lil Wayne, and U.N.L.V., Cash Money had already achieved success on the independent circuit, with albums from B.G. (Chopper City, It’s All On U Vol. 1) and Juvenile (Solja Rags) both moving hundreds of thousands of copies in spite of minimal radio airplay.
In 1997, it was decided that the four core solo artists on the label, B.G., Juvenile, Turk, and Lil Wayne would form a group dubbed the Hot Boys, a name inspired by a New Orleans slang term for someone attracting unwanted attention from the police through reckless or careless actions. First appearing as a unit on Juvenile’s Cash Money debut, Solja Rags (May 1997), the group would also contribute a song to B.G.’s sophomore album, It’s All On U Vol. 1, creating the buzz for the group’s own debut album, Get It How U Live! Released on October 28, 1997, Get It How U Live! would mesh the unique styles of the individual members of the Hot Boys together, from Juvenile’s animated rambles to B.G.’s steely couplets. Contrary to today, when there is a multitude of teenage rappers saying ungodly things on record, Turk and Lil Wayne, were among the youngest artists in rap history to have their gangster musings taken seriously and at face value, giving the group a unique dimension and selling point.
And sell did Get It How U Live!, moving over 400,000 copies independently and all but setting in stone Cash Money’s historic $30 million pressing and distribution deal with Universal Records, a contract that is still regarded as one of the biggest in hip-hop history nearly two decades later.
VIBE looks back on one of the most pivotal independent rap albums of all-time.
Still Gets Infinite Spins: After Baby and Mannie Fresh set off the proceedings with an intro, the Hot Boys waste no time hitting their stride on the fiery selection, “We On Fire part 1,” a precursor to the 1999 single from their Guerilla Warfare album. Other can’t-miss selections on Get It How U Live! include Lil Wayne’s solo turn “Block Burner,” as well as the album’s rollicking title-track.
Most Slept On: Among the deep cuts on Get It How U Live! that may not be the first that comes to mind when you think of the album, but stand the test of time are the murderous “50 Shots Set’s It Off,” the introspective number “Dirty World,” and the B.G. and Juvenile collabo “I’m a Hot Boy.”
Peak Moment: The finest moment on Get It How U Live! comes in the form of “Neighborhood Superstar,” a laid-back affair on which members of the Hot Boys and the Big Tymers bask in the glory of their hood fame and the trappings of life as entertainers. Although B.G. and Turk are absent from this selection, it features the core members of what would become Cash Money’s star tandem in Juvenile and Lil Wayne, whom would join forces on classics like “Back Dat Azz Up” and “Project Chick” and become the most successful solo members of the Hot Boys. Having yet to release a full-length album of their own, Baby and Mannie Fresh continue to cut their teeth as rappers on “Neighborhood Superstars,” anchoring the song with a pair of braggadocios verses of their own and setting the stage for their 1998 debut, How U Luv That Vol. 1. The first instance of a Hot Boys and Big Tymers collaboration being credited as a Cash Money Millionaires track, “Neighborhood Superstars” is reminiscent of many of the high-powered posse cuts that would mark Cash Money’s ascent during the late 1990s and early aughts.
Bet You Didn’t Know: The original incarnation of the Hot Boys was comprised of B.G., Juvenile, Lil Wayne, and rapper Bulletproof, a nephew of Baby and Slim. However, due to Bulletproof’s reputation as a trouble-maker and a hot-head, the decision was made to insert Turk, who originally signed with Cash Money to do bounce music, into the group as the last and final member of the quartet, and the rest is history.
Bet You Also Didn’t Know: According to producer Mannie Fresh, “We On Fire Part 1” was inspired by pioneering rap group Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s intricate rhyme routines, as was the concept and formation of the Hot Boys as a whole. Produced in its entirety by Mannie Fresh, Get It How U Live! showcased the Hot Boys’ effortless chemistry as a unit, as well as their prowess individually, with each member getting a solo track of their own on the album. In the wake of Get It How U Live‘s release, Cash Money would unleash Juvenile’s 400 Degreez album, which would sell over four million units and establish the label as a force to be reckoned with in the south. Following 400 Degreez with platinum releases from B.G. and Lil Wayne, as well as the Hot Boys’ sophomore album, Guerilla Warfare, Cash Money Records would claim their stake as a superpower in hip-hop, a distinction that the label holds till this day