Juvenile, Tha G-Code (1999)
Cash Money Records — the New Orleans label that spawned the Hot Boyz, Juvenile, BG and Lil’ Wayne — is the hottest commodity in rap today. Juvenile’s breakthrough album, 400 Degreez, has sold more than three million records; fellow label mates B.G. and Lil’ Wayne are pushing past gold sales themselves. But is it any coincidence that just over a year ago, rap fans were equally excited about another New Orleans phenomenon — No Limit Records? In 1998, radio stations were playing “Make ‘Em Say Uhh!” and “It Ain’t My Fault.” This year, it’s Juvenile’s “Ha” and B.G.’s “Bling, Bling.” To be fair, there are some distinct differences between the two. Mannie Fresh, in-house producer for Cash Money, makes a brand of synthesized bounce that’s far more intricate and textured than Beats by the Pound. But the aesthetic is the same, as Juvenile’s latest, Tha G-Code, proves.
Some of the music on Tha G-Code is amazing: on “Catch Your Cut,” Fresh layers an ominous track with all sorts of melodic fills, as if he were creating some kind of exploding pop inevitable. On “U Understand,” he changes the tempo several times, funneling Juvenile’s boasts through a whirlwind of electronic effects. Juvenile excels at patterning his rhymes to the beat, lowering his voice on the chorus in just as a kick drum emerges. But if you’re looking for lyrical complexity, you’re unlikely to find it among the criminally minded boasts here. Universal Records distributed Tha G-Code.