Rapper Juvenile, whose real name is Terius Gray, hailing from New Orleans, came up in the music world with 3grand, Cash Money records and the Hot Boys, and on his own. He's on to bigger and better things all the time. He's a pioneering Southern rapper who helped put New Orleans on the hip-hop map. With hits like "Ha," "Back That Thang Up" and "Slow Motion" everyone knows Juvenile. InsideHoops.com editor Jeff Lenchiner presents an exclusive Juvenile interview. Enjoy:
InsideHoops.com: What music did you listen to when you were younger?
Juvenile: Hey man, everything, you name it. If my daddy played it, I was down with it. We listened to a lot of Kool and the Gang... whatever was popular back then, in the 70's. I was born in '75, so, I kind of grew up in the background of music. My family, that's all we had. That was pretty much what we were. We didn't have all the entertainment things that they have out there right now. Music was the way. I listened to everything. Especially if they had rap songs coming out. I was starving for it.
InsideHoops.com: Talk about bounce, the style, the feeling, the evolution of it and everything.
Juvenile: I have to send a rest in peace shoutout to a guy named Everlasting Hitman, because he had a lot to do with it, because he was in my era... We was like, the cats that made the cds, the cassette tapes, and went out to clubs and put had them in a bag and sold them for $10 apiece right there in front of the clubs, just like that. And that's how bounce started. It basically was music that was done in the club, came up with it right then and there, everyone was in that room, ready to hear the fire-line and shake-through, you just think of it and you go with it. We tried to start fights, as much as possible.
InsideHoops.com: And a zillion years ago, you did stuff with DJ Jimi. How'd that work and what came from it?
Juvenile: Yeah. I was really a writer. I was basically writing the songs for him. He'd come, they knew I was good, but I was too young. That was the case. So they had him, he was really their forefront man and they wanted me to write for him. So I wrote for him, and they let me do a song on his album, and what happened was, the song and and everything blew. It blew bigger than what I had anticipated. They started playing my song that was on that album, Bounce with a Juvenile on the radio. That kind of started the bounce era, to real big things, because that song played and played, and that was like the biggest bounce record.
InsideHoops.com: Now on to Cash Money records. What I had heard is that they intially liked you, and then you worked really hard to win them over and get them to go after you, and it worked and they grabbed you. But I wasn't sure how accurate that really was.
Juvenile: Well, that's not really how it went. I never was really... You know what it was, I was around when Cash Money first started. So they got really their first artist, I really did a few things with them. Like UNLV, I was all in working from them. And we was from the same area, you know what I'm saying? It was like, I watched their company get set up. They had, back in those days, they had Pimp Daddy, UNLV, they had Keelo -- I think his name was Keelo, if I ain't mistaken -- I basically was doing my thing with them when they was [building] Cash Money, so me dealing with Cash Money was really going backwards. Cash Money basically came to me, because I was winning all the contests that were going on. And every week in the House of Blues they had a little freestyle content, around the projects they had freestyle contests, and I was winning most of them. And that's what got them coming back for me. And when Baby (Williams) had UNLV, I met him through Ya Fat, one of the artists that they had back then. The relationship between me and them, it was like, I know ya'll, and I might mess with ya'll, when things wasn't going right for me, and it looked like it wasn't going in the direction that I wanted to go, I just basically went to them, because I liked the beats that Mannie Fresh was making. So I made my decision. They was after me for a while. They was interested the whole while. They were always saying, "Man, you should be with Cash Money, da da-da da-da, da da-da-da-da." And I was like, man I'd rather work right now, you know what I'm saying?
Juvenile: I gotta pay the bills. And all of a sudden, Mannie Fresh made a 360 with making music for me. He came to me, and, I want you to remember this, I want to make sure you got this down good: The beat that I used on, I think that was the Project English album, the song that I had, Set It Off, that last song that I made, the first beat that attracted me to Cash Money, it was made for the late Yellow Boy, the guy from UNLV. The song that I rapped over, that I used as a single, was the song that drew me to Cash Money. Because I loved that beat so much, I wanted a beat just like that. I said, if dude can make beats like that, if I have an opportunity to rap on beats like that, I will take it. And that's basically what happened.
InsideHoops.com: So that was it right there, that's what helped make all this happen.
Juvenile: Yeah, Mannie Fresh was the key.
InsideHoops.com: And with Cash Money, word was that you were with them and left and went back again...
Juvenile: Well, first of all, you have to understand, I never went back. It was a 50-50 deal, and it was basically between me, UTP records, which I don't know what happened after the cd got in Cash Money's hands, because they made some changes to not only the album but to the credits that was written on the back of the cd. So everybody got the wrong idea, everybody thought that I was really with Cash Money, and also the video made it look like I was really with Cash Money. But that wasn't the case. It was really business. It was a 50-50 split between me and them, partnership as executive producer, and I would be able to walk straight out of the contract and be able to shop for another deal in that process. And if the album goes platnum on top of the deal then they'd pay me back all the money that they owed me, and pay all my back-taxes; they would pay me an additional million dollars out of their pocket if I went platnum. So that's how the deal was. And the album went platnum. It was never a with them situation. It was a walk-out from the beginning. I was out of the contract from the beginning. I just didn't want to walk out without getting my money, and I also didn't want to walk out without still being Juvenile and having the same credibility and having the same stardom that I had.
InsideHoops.com: So that was back in 2001, right?
InsideHoops.com: Ok cool, because I had read conflicting stuff on the web that you had left in 2001, went back in 2003, and left in 2005.
Juvenile: Naw, that ain't how it went. And I had put out a couple of albums as solo, on my own money. I really have no reason to go back to them, because financially I've been alright the whole while.
InsideHoops.com: Good, cool.
Juvenile: Like right now, I'm in the bank, I'm building my house right now.
InsideHoops.com: Hah, beautiful. Anyway yeah, thanks for setting that straight.
Juvenile: And you know, I enjoyed the time that I spent [with Cash Money] though, you know what I'm saying? I enjoyed the time that I spent, the records that I moved, the things that I gained. It was a beautiful run, man.
InsideHoops.com: Bottom line, it was a nice boost, to say the least.
Juvenile: Yeah. You know, hey, man, I'm happy.
InsideHoops.com: That's what matters most. And now moving ahead, what's...
Juvenile: [Yells something to someone else]
InsideHoops.com: Haha, you cool?
Juvenile: I'm sorry about that, my dog just tried to bite one of the people back here.
InsideHoops.com: Oh sh*t. What kind of dog do you have?
Juvenile: That's a little house dog, that's a little cocker spaniel. She's a mean little dog.
InsideHoops.com: The smallest dogs sometimes have the biggest attitudes.
InsideHoops.com: Actually, that's true with human beings, too.
Juvenile: Oh yeah!
InsideHoops.com: What's been the high point of your career so far, either business-wise, or personal, or anything at all that's the best thing that's happened for you so far?
Juvenile: I think right now, the label deal with Atlanta, that's the best thing that could have happened to me. Because now I open doors for other people. I think that was the best thing. I worked hard for it. The past four, five years I've been back and forth in this meeting, in that meeting, trying to prove myself, and everything didn't always go right with all the other companies like I expected. I still feel like, when that contract was signed, everything changed for me. That's where I'm at right now.
InsideHoops.com: And what's been the low point for you, again either business-wise, life-wise, anything.
Juvenile: The lowest point in my life got to be the last three years -- not these last three years, but I would say the three years when I first left Cash Money, that little three year era when I was out there on my own. But you know what, what I did gain from that, you learn... that was the lowest point in my life... but I'm ok now. I'm happy.
InsideHoops.com: That's good that it's over and done and you're at a higher place for a while now.
Juvenile: Well yeah, man, you can't spend your life crying about spilled milk. It's over with. There's more money out there to make, man, especially if you're an entrepreneur like me, it's a lot of ways to make money. Especially if you put your head to it, trust me.
InsideHoops.com: And now, the new album, your latest is coming out.
Juvenile: I got production from a lot of producers, names like Lil Jon, Jermaine Dupri, Brian McKnight, I got Brian McKnight on the song with me, Mannie Fresh, everybody who's somebody. I'm working with everybody. I got a song with Aretha Franklin, that's not on my album, but, it's big to me. I grew up - my momma grew up listening to Aretha Franklin. And on my album I have people such as Ludacris, Fat Joe, 8ball, like I said Brian McKnight, man the list is long. I get back with everybody from the UTP label. My list is long. I really can't even think of everybody off the top of my head. But it's a beautiful album. It's definitely not an album that you listen to and keep three hits off of, you know what I'm saying. It's not an album that you turn on and turn off. It's an uplifting album, so when you listen to it, you're gonna love it, trust me.
Grab Juvenile's new album Reality Check when you see it in stores. And, InsideHoops.com sends a shoutout to It Girl Public Relations.