Urge ran my Juvenile interview today, reprinted below for the Mac-having.
Juvenile’s New Orleans, Then and Now
by Julianne Shepherd
New Orleans is a storied music city, best known for its jazz, R&B, zydeco and brass bands. But since the early 1990s, no NOLA-flavored sounds have had the cultural impact of the city’s hip-hop scene. Because of New Orleans’ rappers and producers, rap fans hear hooks, party chants and jeep beats differently. Meanwhile, its entrepreneurs have changed the way hip-hop does business — building (and branding) mini-rap empires and catapulting their talented friends from the neighborhoods to the charts.
Terius “Juvenile” Grey is perhaps New Orleans’s most iconic rapper. The former Cash Money Millionaire has been releasing albums since 1995, becoming famous for popularizing bounce music, a type of NOLA-indigenous call-and-response club rap. As the city’s hip-hop prodigal son, he’s devoted several hits to his hometown, including 2004’s “Nolia Clap,” which gave shine to the Magnolia housing projects in New Orleans’ Third Ward, the neighborhood Juvenile grew up in.
One year after the release of “Nolia Clap,” Hurricane Katrina devastated what remained of the partially demolished Magnolia projects, and destroyed Juvenile’s current home in Slidell, Louisana. When this interview was conducted in January of 2006, Juvenile had just completed filming the video for “Get Ya Hustle On/What’s Happening” in the Lower Ninth Ward — Katrina’s worst victim. His were the first cameras allowed in the district after city officials shut off media access to the area in the hurricane’s wake.
What was the first music from New Orleans you remember hearing?
Gotta be Gregory D and Mannie Fresh. When I was a kid, they had a song called “Buck Jump Time,” that pretty much catered to the whole state of Louisiana. That was the record that started getting me motivated, like “Damn, this is starting to get close, these are artists in New Orleans. There was a lotta cats that came after that, but they were the first ones. Gregory D and Mannie Fresh.
How old were you when you heard it?
Man, I had to be like, nine or ten! I had to be super-young then.
What did you like about it?
Everybody liked it! It was a song that caused a lot of problems in clubs, like if you play it in the club, nine times out of ten a fight will break out and somebody might even end up getting killed. So it was a real, reminded me of, they had a song that Three 6 Mafia came out with called “Tear Da Club Up,” that kind of resembled that song. They had a problem.
After you heard that, what else did you come up on that was New Orleans? Anything besides rap?
Nah, they had jazz music and all that, but my era and my age we wasn’t listening to that, we was listening to straight rap. Rap and if there was a hell of an R&B singer, which we had none, so it was really just rap.
Not even people like Alan Toussaint?
Who else were you listening to then?
Rakim! Rakim, Slick Rick, Public Enemy, Run-DMC, Whodini, all the old cats. The Furious Five. Cause you gotta remember, I’ve been around since the beginning of rap. I know everybody who rapped, from the beginning to now, and I’m a real hip-hop fan, I’ll be here all day telling you who I liked. Sir Mix-a-Lot, KRS-One, LL Cool J. Everybody was an inspiration on me, but the main one was Rakim.
But as far as New Orleans, I been a star in New Orleans. After that Mannie Fresh era, came me. I been a star in New Orleans. So it’d be better for you to ask that question of somebody else that’s a star, because then they’d be sayin me! I winded up being the big star in New Orleans for all those years.
Did anyone come after you in New Orleans that you really liked?
A couple more cats came before me that I really liked. They had a cat named Tim Smooth. Then again, he didn’t necessarily come out before me, but he came out with a solo album before me. His solo album [Straight Up Drivin] was nice. It was nice. Bust Down, the dude that invented pussy poppin’, he came out with a record that was real big called “Putch’ Ballys On,” and he had “Nasty Bitch,” and that record got him a deal with Luke Skywalker, and Luke Skywalker kinda shelved him and took the whole pussy poppin thing away from him. But there was a few cats from New Orleans that were bumpin. We had a cat named MC Spud that had a good following. I’m from the T. Tucker era, and dude came out with a sound like no other. You know, people get it mixed up because they compare bounce music to what he was doing, but what he was doing we called “Where they at.” We never called that bounce music. We called it ‘Where they at,” cause he was really doing “Where they at, where they at?” the whole song. When the bounce era came, “bounce for me,” was really what we sayin. It was more “bounce for me, bounce for me,” or “Put your boy in it.”
There was a lotta cats that had to do with molding New Orleans, but out of all of them, I was the strongest, because I’m the one that lasted the longest. I came from the Master P era, the Cash Money era, and I’m still here.
Can you explain the difference between bounce and rap?
Bounce is “Triggaman.” Bounce is straight Show Boys, the “Triggaman” record and the “Brown Beat” record. As far as making the sound, nobody can claim that because it’s a sound that was already made. It’s the DJ scratching the record. Mixing them together makes it the bounce sound. But Cash Money never made a bounce record. The only thing that comes close is “Back that Azz Up,” because I’m the inventor of bounce. It ain’t the way the tracks are, it ain’t the way the music sounds. To everybody who’s from New Orleans that been in there for all of those years they’ll tell you, it’s the records. Bounce is not rap, you know when a cat go to rappin, that ain’t bounce. It’s different.
Do you remember who introduced you to music?
I didn’t live that kinda life. I didn’t have a parent that listened to rap, an uncle that listened to rap. It all started from me. I didn’t have nobody around me, my mom didn’t even like rap, know what I mean? Forbidding me to write raps. I won talent shows and left the trophies in my partner’s house. If you try to go into the history of New Orleans rap, and you’re asking me, I can’t really go past me, because I am the history!
LIFE AFTER HURRICANE KATRINA
Talk about the video you just shot for “Reality Check”? You were the first people allowed down in the Lower Ninth Ward with cameras in Katrina’s aftermath.
We were just trying to show everybody what the government should have done. That’s why we got three little boys in there with different masks on, walking around: one is Dick Cheney, one is Bush, and the other one is [New Orleans Mayor] Ray Nagin. One of them shoulda been [Lousiana governor] Kathleen Blanco — I don’t know why we didn’t do that, we shoulda had a little girl in a Kathleen Blanco mask.
We just wanted people to see what they should have done. So we got these little boys walking through the Lower 9th Ward, and you see all these houses and stuff, all messed up, stuff all in the street debris everywhere, and we got these cats with these signs saying: ‘WE WAITIN.’ ‘WE STILL WAITIN.’ ‘YOU FORGOT ABOUT US.’ You know what I’m saying, all through the video there’s a different sign.
It’s real, I think it’s self-explanatory, like our cry out. Like, “Man, y’all coulda done more than what y’all did. Y’all came here with cameras. I saw NBC, Fox, ABC, MTV, BET. I saw all these cameras. Now don’t get me wrong—MTV, BET, both of these companies, they came, they kicked money out. But what happened to Fox? What happened to NBC? What happened to ABC? We ain’t hear nothing from them. We watched their cameras. We saw them.
They had cameras filming the people on top of their roofs. They could’ve dropped water out of their helicopters.
A floatation device ain’t hard to make. It’s real easy. You hook a parachute up to it and drop it out the damn helicopter. We made it on the video. If we can make it on the video and throw it off a bridge, then surely that’s what y’all shoulda done. When people see the video, they’re gonna be like, “If some little kids can walk on top of that bridge and throw that [floatation device] off that bridge like that, a grownup coulda thought of that.”
That’s what I was screaming from day one. Y’all shoulda been dropping floatation devices, canned goods, and water. People were dying from starvation. People were dying because they was thirsty. You know? You can’t drink that water, you know what I’m saying? It was crazy.
People were just coming in, filming, and not trying to save anyone?
Basically. Basically. That’s why a lot of the city officials got mad. They came to this point where we not letting nobody down here, I don’t care who you is, you can’t come shoot, nothin’. You can’t bring no camera crews in New Orleans right now. They said you had to be a person from New Orleans — you had to be a person to actually go through what they went through to actually go down in the lower ninth ward.
When they found out I was the person that wanted to shoot the video, they opened their arms. They treated me like the president. They gave me full access.
I think I did the right thing. For the first time, you know. Cause I did a lot of wrong things in my life. I think for the first time in my life, I’m really doing my ten percent.
What about what’s going on there right now? I know that you lost your house.
You know, insurance companies, they’re not paying as fast as we want ’em to, but they reaching out. Right now, it’s just a lot of people that just want jobs. Believe it or not, they got a lot of jobs that’s payin’ a lot of money, but the problem is, a lot of [New Orleans residents] are not credible to get those jobs.
What do you mean by “not credible”?
Criminal records. Criminal records, or bad job history. I think all that should be out the window right now. The people from New Orleans should be able to get jobs. The hurricane hit, and all that shoulda went out the window.
What we’re seeing is, they’re bringing a lot of Mexicans in and they’re treating them wrong. Cause I’m not sure if they paying ‘em the proper amount of money they should be getting. So it’s double jeopardy. They’re rippin’ the Mexicans off, they’re bringing them to New Orleans, and they’re creating an animosity between the people that live in New Orleans and Mexicans. And you know when I speak I’m not just speaking for black people, I’m speaking for black, white, Chinese people, Arabs, we had a lot of people that lived there that lost their homes and we should be the ones. If you was a New Orleans resident, you should have first shot at any job in New Orleans. But they’re not treating people like that.
Why do you think that’s happening?
I don’t know. I don’t know. You know Louisiana never had Mexicans. Never, there’s like, people and you know, you was from New Orleans and you see that, you know what’s going on.
I’m doing whatever I can, you know? It’s like telling someone who lived upper class, “Look you lost everything, I’m sorry. Can’t do nothing for you.” You make a person that lived a good life, you turn ’em into a career criminal when you take everything from ‘em. And you demoralize them. They sitting there thinking, “Man, I just had a house, a car, my kids was in college, I was doing right and saving money, and I lost all of that, and now you telling me you not gonna help me?” It angers them. And what does an angry person do? Makes dumb decisions. That’s why the Houston crime rate is high. That’s why every state where people from Louisiana traveled to, they got a crime rate that went up at least twenty percent. Because people mad. Just imagine you being in a fix somewhere and they telling you they gonna do something for you. They put you up in hotels, then they tell you they don’t have money to send you back. What you gonna do? What you gonna do? The next move is gonna be a criminal act, you know what I’m saying?
How can individual citizens help Katrina victims?
The best way is hand-to-hand. Everybody says to donate money. Naw. Go down there, and just hand-to-hand. I do hand-to-hand. I don’t like these organizations. I don’t trust people like that. I feel like these are my people, I’m gonna put money in their hand myself. You from New Orleans? Show me your ID. Talk to me, there’s a certain language we got where I’m gonna know if you from New Orleans. Here, that’s all I can do for you. You know what I’m saying? That’s my way of doing my ten percent.
A lotta people went out they way and donated money to these organizations, but these organizations wasn’t right. Personally, I think the Red Cross is full of shit. I know this as a fact that only thirty percent of each dollar gets to a person. So if they receive a hundred million dollars, it’s only thirty million that gets to the people. What happened to the other seventy million?
I went down there and told people the truth. I was like, “Man, don’t wait for nothing. Get off your ass and do something.”
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