Riding in my dad car and I heard the weirdest song I’ve ever heard in my life. I just remember saying to myself “What the fuck is this?” The song was so different that I didn’t even think it was a real song. I thought the radio was playing some skit or commercial. I think about a week or two later I was sitting in the house just flipping back and forth between The Box video channel and Nickelodeon as usual and the music video for that unorthodox ass song was on and it was so beautifully hood that the video was what made me eventually love the song. Seeing the reality of the projects. The cinematography for the video was so masterful.
Nobody knew the words to this shit. Today niggas still say the hook wrong but nobody cares cause the song makes you feel good than mothafucka. There’s is literally not another song like this 20 years later. When “Ha” dropped everybody thought Juvenile was a joke. Even after seeing the video and where he was from niggas still thought he was a joke. Everybody thought it was a joke until the album dropped. Including myself. When you make it to track 3 and hear “I’m chargin 600 for some big O’s” that’s when reality really hits you and you realize “Oh shit this nigga is forreal forreal.” You never heard anything like this. There’s a few styles in hip-hop that are so distinct that if bitten you know that they’ve been bitten. Project Pat, Devin The Dude, Mystikal, Scarface, Wayne, and Juvenile.
Ladies and Gentlemen. 20 years later. 400 Degreez.
There are 5 debut albums that shifted Hip-Hop.
Doggystyle by Snoop
The Chronic by Dr.Dre
Illmatic by Nas
Ready To Die by Biggie
And 400 Degreez by Juvenile.
Looking back at it today. You’d see that No Limit was at the end of their prime in late 98 cause 1999 was an okay year for No Limit so 400 Degreez dropping in late 98 was perfect timing. It was like it was destiny because it was the album that started the Cash Money Records run. It changed everything. It showed us one of the greatest producers of all time in Mannie Fresh. It introduced us to one of the greatest rappers of all time in Lil Wayne. It was the equivelent of a sports franchise first championship of a dynasty run. The crazy thing about it was that these niggas was dropping classics before 400 Degreez. I remember hearing “Big Ballin” by Big Tymers on the radio before hearing “Ha”. The first Hot Boyz album was out a year earlier.
The Intro on 400 Degreez I am pissed about to this day because Juvenile didn’t rap on it. It was a classic regardless but his style on that beat would’ve been memorable.
The production by Mannie Fresh just kept getting stronger and stronger each song. He had you hooked on every song and Mannie Fresh could’ve never made a beat ever again after his work on 400 Degreez and he would still be in my Top 10 Producers all time. You didn’t know it when 400 Degreez dropped but real niggas know that Mannie Fresh carried Cash Money Records. He was the sole producer for all the albums for a decade plus.
400 Degreez is one of those albums that you remember where you were when you heard tracks off of it. I remember being with my cousins and they kept playing “Juvenile On Fire” over and over again. Hearing “Back Dat Azz Up” and thinking “The nigga at the end of this song is my favorite rapper now.” All this nigga Wayne said was “Drop it like it’s hot” and niggas was amazed as fuck. 20 years later women run to the dance floor shake they ass like they student loans paid off when they hear that song. Lil Wayne definitely was my favorite after I heard “Rich Niggaz”. I learned Lil Wayne’s verse on Rich Niggaz in one day. That’s how much I played that shit as a kid. Hearing “Ha” today as an adult you realize that Juvenile was just breaking down the ghetto and you also realize that it’s one of the greatest songs ever made in any genre. “Follow Me Now” sounded like you went to go to meet the plug in South America. “U.P.T” showed you how special the Hot Boyz were as a collective. “Flossin Season” will be the first song I play in my new Benz while putting on my new Rolex. I promise you this. That’s my favorite bragging and shittin on niggas song. When “Welcome 2 the Nolia” comes on my St.Louis accent goes out the window and I will sound like I was born and raised in the Magnolia Projects.
20 years later this album still has a hold on me. The production. The verses. The hooks are all perfect. The songs are in perfect order. It was like the southern hip-hop version of “Off The Wall” by Michael Jackson. Like Mike even though “Off The Wall” wasn’t his first album it felt like it was because you seen Mike come into his own. 400 Degreez is the same scenario. Juvenile already was that nigga in his city before it dropped and he had albums before it but 400 Degreez showed Juvenile in his rarest form as an artist. Never forget that.
For another 20 years we gone play this shit.
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