Mannie Fresh Regrets What Cash Money Did to Hip-Hop Culture

Rappers Birdman, Turk, Juvenile, Lil Wayne, producer Mannie Fresh and B.G. of the Hot Boys attend 10th Annual Billboard Music Awards on December 8, 1999 at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)

Mannie Fresh Regrets What Cash Money Did to Hip-Hop Culture

He might have done things a little differently.

Published May 5, 2017

When Juvenile declared in his twerk-famous classic “Back That Azz Up” that Cash Money Records was taking over for the ’99 and the 2000s, he meant every word.

The New Orleans-established label laid the rap domination blueprint for several acts, namely Lil Wayne, and introduced hip-hop to a groundbreaking new sound and artistry. But in hindsight and despite its success, former in-house hitmaker Mannie Fresh now expresses his regret for the label’s impact on hip-hop as we know it today.

In a conversation with The Come Up Show, Mannie discussed his newest “Big Tymers-meets-Black-Star” project, and segued into Cash Money’s burgeoning entry into the rap game. Naming hip-hop counterparts like Slick Rick, Public Enemy and N.W.A, he explained that everyone had a gift for rap, but Cash Money’s reputation was much more shallow.

“You had Cash Money, that was just the flashy dudes,” he said. “Like I said, you had different genres of rap, and we were just one of them. So that’s how we fit in. What makes it all confusing, and this is where it’s the gift and the curse: we never set out for hip-hop to turn into just something flashy — that was just our thing. It wasn’t everybody’s thing.”

He further elaborates that Cash Money became the impetus for the current era of hip-hop’s materialistic obsession and that the intent behind their flashy hip-hop persona never intended to create a generation full of big chain-flaunting rap stars. Sending praise to artists who portray more substance in their music, Mannie added that he wanted to see more emerging rappers bold enough to stray from hip-hop’s “easy route.”

“I’m saying nobody’s got the guts to be a J. Cole,” he said. Nobody’s got the guts to be a Kendrick Lamar. We need more of them…Everybody wants to go the easy route.”

Digging back to the genre’s roots, Mannie reminded that “hip-hop was a form of education,” expressing more regret for how that purpose has now become invisible. Toward the hour mark of the interview, he even dubbed the newer rap landscape as a “blingfest” while the upside of it all is that Cash Money did teach artists how to turn their rap dreams into dollars.

“But like I said, I never [imagined] that was going to be the only thing they was gonna talk about. I like to say that new rappers have a rap kit. What I mean is, everybody dress alike,” he said. “No disrespect to [anyone], but nobody dares to go left. I think that’s what’s missing in it…what’s crazy, statistically, the people that go left are winning. It’s nuts that nobody can’t see that. I’m not [meaning] the fans, I’m saying the [label and artists]. You take Chance the Rapper, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, to me, that’s artists that go left.”

Which other future-shaping artists of the current rap era do you think would have Mannie’s vote?

Listen to the full interview below. 

Written by Diamond Alexis

(Photo: Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)

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