Juvenile has always been one of hip-hop's southern jewels from the very beginning of his career with 1996's underground album, Solja Rags. Once he became affiliated with Cash Money and a member of the label's group, The Hot Boys, he was a certified as one of the region's most lyrical rappers. He has since released many albums that have continued to put him at the forefront of the group, although a young Lil Wayne was right on his tail. In 2002, there was widespread speculation that a rift developed between Juve and Cash Money, which caused his departure from the Hot Boys and later, the label.
Juve sat down with BallerStatus to clear the air about his relationship with Cash Money, why he takes credit for Wayne's success, and how Atlantic Records won the bid to release his latest album, Cocky & Confident scheduled for a November release.
BallerStatus.com: Have you worked on any projects since your last studio album, Reality Check?
Juvenile: I got a company called Beats And Hooks, we make a lot of beats and hooks for other artists like Boosie, Jeezy. We're doing a lot of stuff outside of me just rapping. I own a studio and a club out in New Orleans, so I'm still getting the money.
BallerStatus.com: Was it difficult working on that album considering it was done right around the time of Hurricane Katrina?
Juvenile: It was. It didn't take long at all. The album was pretty much done when the hurricane hit. I just had to do a lot of voiceovers and mixing and stuff. A few things I had to do in a hotel, but not vocal recording or anything like that.
BallerStatus.com: Tell me about your Hurricane Katrina experience.
Juvenile: It wasn't heard. A lot of people think it was more complicated than what it actually was. Got my insurance money and re-built my house. I didn't go through nothing -- I wasn't stressed out or going crazy. It didn't do me what it did a lot of people. It didn't do us what people think it done us. People in New Orleans, we on a "I don't want you to feel sorry for me" kick. That's why I'm like "I don't want to talk about it." I didn't go through nothing.
BallerStatus.com: You know I'm gonna ask you about Cash Money right?
Juvenile: Definitely I talk to Baby every day, what else you wanna know?
BallerStatus.com: You left the label in 2001, came back in 2003 and released Juve The Great.
Juvenile: I wasn't with them though. I didn't come back to Cash Money. I always have to tell people that, it was a payoff. That was the only way Cash Money could pay me off. So it was under Cash Money's imprint, but I got all the money. I wasn't back with them.
BallerStatus.com: Word on the street is that a Hot Boys reunion is underway. How do you think the public would perceive that because people think there was some type of head-butting?
Juvenile: It is what it is, because if you always say the good things and never the bad things, people would never buy it. There was a money difference, but it wasn't nothing to be crying the rest of your life over. They actually paid me, so what else is there to be crying about? I'm ready to go get some more money.
BallerStatus.com: When can we expect that reunion to happen?
Juvenile: It's gonna be next year. Not this year, I can guarantee that. You'll probably start seeing visuals on us, but won't make it to the studio probably until about February when everybody's clear.
BallerStatus.com: How do you feel about Wayne's success?
Juvenile: You know, what's funny about this? I told ya'll. 10 years ago, I came to New York and I was on MTV or BET and I said Cash Money is now, Wayne is the future. I always said that. Wayne is the youngest one in the group. We always looked at him as the future. He went to the best school, he came to the studio and did his part. He never was a problem in the studio. He was always ready, so I gave him a chance.
BallerStatus.com: Do you take any credit for Wayne's success, being that you were the breakout artist in Cash Money back in the day? It seems a lot of your style has rubbed off on him back then.
Juvenile: Why shouldn't I? Of course I do. He gave me credit for some of his success. I didn't write his raps though, he paved his own way. As far as putting him in, yea I did.
BallerStatus.com: What about B.G., you still speak with him?
Juvenile: Yea B.G.'s on the album and I'm on his album. I'm promoting his release, which is November 31st.
BallerStatus.com: Tell me about UTP (Uptown Project Playas) Records.
Juvenile: That's my baby. I've been the owner for eight years now. I got a bunch of local artists doing real good. I choose not to race to the major labels with my artists because we do pretty good numbers. I got a cat named Youngin' and another named S-80. Youngin' is a beast. He pretty much got the streets of N.O. It's a great look I got over here. I'm only interested in new cats. You got to be fresh talent and you gotta have the look too.
BallerStatus.com: How did your deal with Atlantic Records come about?
Juvenile: My album, Juve The Great, went platinum. And like I told you, I wasn't signed to Cash Money. It looked like it because I wanted their label on my CD, so I can make all the money. Any other way I'll be cheating myself. I did it like that and at the same time, [major labels] had a bidding war going on for me because they know I wasn't signed to nobody. Everybody was shooting numbers, so I went to the highest bidder.
BallerStatus.com: Tell me about the new album, Cocky & Confident. Why you chose that title?
Juvenile: Cause my album is that. I listened to the album first and then I named it that. Matter of fact, I asked one of my guys what you get out of this, what does my album tell you? And he told me "cocky and confident," not knowing I was gonna take it and make it the title. When you listen to my songs, you will see why I chose that because it's just that.
BallerStatus.com: Who are some of the other artists you have featured on the album?
Juvenile: Everything with me is like a remix. I don't really like doing features on my album necessarily, but more like a remix. 'Cause you don't benefit from it being on the album, you benefit from it more on the radio. People who probably won't buy the album, might buy it because they heard that song. I like to use singles in that sense. I don't think putting artists on your album actually gets you a plus on your album.
BallerStatus.com: Who are some other producers you've worked with?
Juvenile: Again I kept it New Orleans, the main cats are all New Orleans cats. That's basically the whole nucleus of my album. I didn't want to get out of the whole New Orleans sound. That's what made me, that's what made me who I am.
BallerStatus.com: Have you evolved with the direction rap music has gone on this album? Or can we expect to see the Juvenile that your fans have come to know?
Juvenile: I've evolved, but you're gonna get some of the Juve you already heard. I'm a trendsetter, I like to do my own thing. So I'm definitely not following nobody. I feel like a lot of cats right now not really rapping, they're just saying a few good lines to get back to that hook. The industry right now is really surviving off the hook. I don't have no problem with that, but I feel like you gotta rap too, and that's what I'm doing.
BallerStatus.com: Do you still have that same drive that you had when you first came out, if not what drives you today?
Juvenile: I think I have more of a drive. When I first came out, I was lazy. I didn't want to do interviews. I wouldn't do none of this because I was big headed. Everybody had a big head at some point in life.
BallerStatus.com: What do you think is your legacy with rap music?
Juvenile: I really made everybody respect the south. And no disrespect to [Master] P, 'cause P got everybody paying attention to the south and so did the Geto Boys. Lyrically, I think I got everybody really. I was the one who sold the most records out of that nucleus on one album. P did the same numbers too, but lyrically, I had everybody respecting the south. Not only me, but Wayne did the same thing. That's our tribute to hip-hop. When you say the South, you gonna hear the same names.
BallerStatus.com: You have anything else to add about the album?
Juvenile: My album is a people's album. I do have "bounce" records on there. That's the big questions because everybody know "Back That Ass Up" was a "bounce" record. And people would ask when are you gonna make another bounce record, we waiting for that day. So for the people that like the bounce records, I do have one of this album, which is a ladies record called "I Can Make You Feel Alright". It's not a record that we pushed to radio, but the radio in the south is already playing it. It's doing the same thing "Slow Motion" did for me. I didn't push "Slow Motion" to the radio, it did it on its own.
BallerStatus.com: How do you feel about the internet and music being leaked?
Juvenile: Really I don't think all songs leak, I think people put their songs on the internet on purpose, especially the artists. They'll tell their label that it leaked, but they know. You put that sh** on there, stop playing.