Mannie Fresh Revisits the Hot Boys’ ‘Get It How U Live!!’ 15 Years Later, Track by Track
In the mid to late 1990s, rap was beginning to grow past what fans had always known it to be. The genre had been dominated by either the East or the West Coast for years but things had begun to shift toward the bottom of the map. Hip-hop heads with a personal connection to the South were aware of the new music and movements building. Less than five years before Atlanta experienced a hip-hop run to the top of every chart, the outfit to check for below the Mason Dixon line was New Orleans’ Hot Boys.
“The thing about it is that it was more fun than anything,” producer Mannie Fresh tells The BoomBox. “That’s what made it great because it wasn’t that much of a thinking process behind doing it. We were just doing it.”
Cash Money was only a fledgling label in 1997, when signees the Hot Boys — comprised of rappers Turk, Juvenile, B.G. and Lil Wayne — made their debut with the album, Get It How U Live!! The standout production, solely done by Mannie Fresh, brought the collective national attention.
“I was still just a hound for knowledge,” Mannie explains. “So I knew that we were entrepreneurs but I don’t think nobody else understood that because it was just overwhelming to them to be like, ‘Oh damn! This is moving us off the block!’”
Tracks like “We On Fire” and “I’m a Hot Boy” made rap fans take notice and pushed Cash Money and the Hot Boys into the spotlight. Although the rap group may not be as close-knit as they were in their humble beginnings, their debut LP, originally released Oct. 28, 1997, was successful as a result of their camaraderie, dedication to their craft and a desire to break new ground 15 years ago.
Today, Mannie Fresh is following his own lead as part of Def Jam South and head of his own Chubby Boy Records imprint, working with everyone from Mos Def and Kanye West to fellow New Orleans natives Curren$y and Dee-1.
In honor of the 15-year anniversary of Get It How U Live!!, The BoomBox has Mannie Fresh share his memories, inspiration and personal stories behind the project’s 15 featured tracks. Lil Wayne’s songwriting skills, jailed “hot boys” and inspiration from Jay-Z included. Get into it.
“Big Tymers Intro”
“Pretty much what we did with all the intros back in the day was just spur-of-the-moment, just like, musicianship. People had gotten used to me doing crazy intros to albums and most people used to say that the intros could’ve been songs. So I would say the intro was probably just fueled by us being musicians.”
“We On Fire”
“I mean, really the concept of that song was something I got from what Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five used to do. There were like, five MCs that would come in and out on songs or whatever and that was even the whole purpose of having the Hot Boys. We just wanted something that was so creative.
“None of them actually knew the old school rap or how it went but as we started doing more of those songs, I started thinking it would be crazy if MCs would come in and out on different verses. I was thinking that would be crazy because nobody had done it in so long. That’s what made that song so crazy.”
“50 Shots Sets It Off”
“Really this was Wayne’s brainchild. He came in there with the hook and it was one of those songs that came together within like 15, 20 minutes. I guess somebody’ll say something to you and you just start building something around it. I even remember this thing I got called Vintage Keys back in the day.
“It was basically a bunch of pre-set sounds and maybe the first two or three songs that I heard in it. I just sampled them and made something creative out of it.”
“On Tha Porch (Parts 1 & 2)”
“[Laughs] That’s me just being Mannie, you know what I’m saying. Just me and my humor. Just being me.”
“That’s a term we used to use in New Orleans and basically the definition of it is: You on fire. You pretty much the hottest dude on the block or whatever. That was one of those songs where we just used that New Orleans slang and taking chances on that new lingo that nobody had heard before. It was like, ‘Let’s go with this.’”
“Definitely that one! Back then there was nothing better than being a neighborhood superstar. Like, you knew you were not trying to be that guy that was all over the place, even though… You know, we didn’t even know that existed. We didn’t even know that there was a whole world outside of New Orleans.
“We were satisfied with being neighborhood superstars. As long as the whole neighborhood knew about you and what you drove and everything you did, your music and all that, that was good enough for us.”
“Take It Off Your Shoulder”
“That’s just based on a term that means if you mess with me, I’ma have to deal with you. I’ma have to take it off your shoulder [laughs].”
“I still like that song. I really love that song. The lyrics, how it was put together and everything because it’s timeless. Still, right now, it’s still a dirty world, know what I’m saying. And that’s another song that Wayne had the hook to. Even though we had this girl do some things or whatever but originally, it was Wayne’s song.
“The whole song was his but we sort of split it up and made something creative out of it with everybody.”
“I’m a Hot Boy”
“That’s classic right there. That was basically our introduction to the world and what a ‘hot boy’ really is and what it means. That term came from some dudes that were way before us and what it actually meant was that you were pretty much the dude that everyone was looking for… As far as law enforcement, the girls and all that.
“So that’s why the term ‘hot boy’ came from it. We used to always say that in a joking way like, ‘Ah, dude, you a hot boy.’ So we were like, ‘That’s kinda catchy, dude. Let’s use that.’ That was the whole way that we took it. We just decided to make it a household name. There are some dudes right now that are in jail and we would have to say that they’re the original hot boys.”
“Get It How U Live!!”
“That’s self-explanatory and it’s still being used right now. Like, basically, whatever you do, however you do it in life you gonna get it how you live. If you make donuts then that’s how you get it. If you sell drugs then that’s how you get it. But you’d better be good at how you get it.
“Get it how you live. Give me my space and I’ll give you your space and how you get yours has nothing to do with how I get mine.”
“I’m Comin’” Feat. Bun B
“If you heard Bun’s verse on this [laughs]… Like, it was so crazy! I mean, he was an animal on that song! It was our way of telling the world like, ‘We coming.’ You know what’s nuts? We never even thought that album would go as far as it went.
“Even though it just kind of circulated throughout the South… We were just doing this on some neighborhood superstars thing.We weren’t really thinking like, ‘We gon’ be world superstars,’ or nothing like that but it was really us being cocky and arrogant in saying, ‘I’m coming.’”
“I want to say that we actually got that from Jay-Z. Some of the songs they were doing earlier and it was more of… If you’re a hip-hop fan, and this was info that I was giving to [Birdman] and them, like, ‘Dude they got these guns with the infrared beam on ‘em. And if you have that red dot on you, that’s where the bullet goes.’
“After time, rap educated you on so much stuff it was nuts. When you heard something, you were overwhelmed. So that was just me running back, going like, ‘Dude, I just heard somebody say something about this red dot or whatever.’ And that’s how that whole song came to be.”
“Blood Thicker” Feat. Birdman & Magnolia Shawty
“I mean… I wish all of us would’ve lived by that. That’s all I can tell you, you know what I’m saying. Real talk, when you grow up with somebody and y’all have nothing, the only thing you have is each other. Blood is thicker than all of that, until you know, money came…
“But at the beginning of doing the Hot Boys and the original Cash Money Records, we really had nothing but each other. So truly, the songs we were making were from the heart. It was really going, ‘Dude, I don’t think money is ever gon’ change us.’ But you know, some things happen, some people change.”
“Spit ‘N Game” Feat. Bulletproof
“That’s another New Orleans term but it’s used widely in rap now. Like, basically, someone is all up on you, giving you game. That’s the dude that can sell space heaters in hell [laughs]… That guy has a mouth piece. He can make you do anything that he want you to do.
“You know what I’m saying. Not just regular game, it’s “spittin’ game.” So if he’s spittin’ game, he’s going hard at you.”
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