Life +Times (Jay Z’s blog) recently posted a A+A with Mannie Fresh where he discussed many of his greatest hits. This article led us to ask the question, is Mannie Fresh the greatest southern producer ever? I think this is a pretty clear cut answer if we don’t include those guys from VA (The Neptunes, Timbaland). His catalogue and work with Cash Money in the 90’s and early 2000’s includes a slew of hits including all of Juvenile’s hits (“Back that Azz up”), Lil Wayne’s early work as well as some with with Ludacris, T.I. and more.
The Cash Money Records of the late ’90s and early 2000′s had a secret weapon named Mannie Fresh. Mannie played a pivotal role in the label’s early success. He nurtured the raw talents of young stars Lil Wayne, Juvenile, B.G., and Turk and conceptualized many of the Cash Money’s biggest hits. He produced banging beats, wrote catchy hooks, suggested flows, had the best adlibs and brought an undeniable energy to every record he touched. While most producers were getting placements here and there, Mannie was simultaneously producing multiple albums in their entirety. Considered the architect of that classic Cash Money sound, he’s also credited with introducing New Orleans bounce music to the mainstream.
“I was just doing music,” says the New Orleans native. “It was just my idea of what music was. I never set out to create this whole new sound. It was just what I felt and as a DJ it was more of ‘What would the DJ play to get the party started?’” After parting ways with the label that not only he helped build, but also made him a star many thought his career would be over, but of course, it wasn’t. He continued his chart success with artists like T.I. and Jeezy. Here, Mannie Fresh talks to Life+Times about how Cash Money classics and T.I. anthems came together and how Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter saved Cash Money Records.
“That was the very last record put on 400 Degreez. We were in the studio one day and took a break for lunch. I felt the album needed one more song. We made the song right there on the spot when we got back from that lunch break. I did the drums and everything right there in the studio. It just clicked. I would kind of give Juvie patterns for what he should do with the songs. When he first came to Cash Money he was a raw artist that just had raps. I felt like all he was missing was structure. I knew once he had structure and organized all of that rawness he’d be great.”