Does B.G.’s ‘Chopper City in the Ghetto’ Stand the Test of Time?
Cash Money Records proved it was truly an army (better yet, a navy) with the label's dominant run in the latter half of the '90s. Mater P's No Limit Records may have made a dent with a historic run of it's own, but Bryan 'Baby' Williams and company blew the doors off the hinges with their Louisianan brand of hip-hop. Following the success of Juvenile's multi-platinum '400 Degreez,' the crew wasted no time basking in the glory, instead, shifting their focus to rapper B.G. their flagship artist.
With Lil Wayne's ascent to icon status, many forget that it's actually B.G. and not Tunechi who lays claim to the title "The Original Hot Boy." Signed to to the label as part of the prepubescent group The BG'z before going solo, by the time Cash Money signed it's storied distribution deal with Universal, he was already a known commodity in the South. But his fifth album, 'Chopper City in the Ghetto,' would introduce New Orleans' best kept secret to the rest of the country in a major way.
Entirely produced by in-house boardsman Mannie Fresh, the album continued Cash Money's winning streak of successful album releases, reaching a million in sales and earning platinum certification within a year of it's release.
But accolades aside, does the album stand the test of time?
Being that today (April 20) marks the 15th anniversary of its release in 1999, we thought now would be as good of a time to give it a listen and find out.
The album opens with Baby And Mannie Fresh laying down their bayou brand of playa linguistics. One of the more memorable openers to a Cash Money album, talk about home-buying and pedicures never sounded as interesting.
B.G. wastes no time letting you know what he's all about with this percussion heavy cut. Rhyming about busting heads, gripping AK's and ducking federal agents with the casual manner of someone trying to sell you insurance, the independent vet ran roughshod over this Mannie Fresh production.
'Cash Money Is An Army'
The longest standing member of the Cash Money family at the time of this release, B.G. cooked up this banger to big up his team, with more than satisfactory results. Lyrics like "I go by the name, The B.G. / I ride on chrome, in the '98 Lex ES3 / I bust a n---- dome over Baby, on the B3 / And all these niggas know my dogs will do the same for me," he made it no secret Cash Money is an army and not to be taken lightly.
'Play'n It Raw'
The Baby Gangsta calls up his Hot Boys brethren for the murderous posse cut, 'Play'n It Raw.' Each deliver strong performances, but Lil Wayne steals the show with a hell of a verse, showing traces of the rap giant he'd eventually evolve into. Straight bars, no hook, you won't here any complaining over here though.
'With Da B.G.'
Doogie lets you know that beef with him could more than likely result in a bounty for your life on "With Da B.G." The guest verses by The Big Tymers had no business making it off the cutting-room floor, but other than that the infectious production work by Mannie Fresh more than makes up for that atrocity.
A fixture in the independent scene dating back to the early '90s, B.G. lists off a few of his credentials on the victorious tune "Made Man." Featuring Cash Money head honcho Baby, B. Gizzle brazenly proclaims, "I got the right to hold a 'K up in my hand, cause a muthaf------, muthaf------ made man," while looking back on his journey from a rookie to respected veteran.
Arguably one of the most recognizable cuts in the entire catalog, 'Bling Bling' was a game changer on many levels. Proving that the Cash Money hit-making formula was far from a fluke, the song became the labels third single to reach the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. With the radio edit seeing Turk's verse replaced by one from Lil Wayne, the song has gone on to be an iconic relic from the late '90s.
'Knockout' (Featuring Turk and Juvenile)
Three out of the four Hot Boyz members connect for this bouncy selection. Juvenile serves hook duty, while Turk and B.G. play lyrical table tennis with the track. The song wins on all fronts, from it's catchy storytelling-styled hook, potent bars and another zinger from Mannie Fresh.
B.G. pledges allegiance to his goons in the UTP with the frenetic 'Real N----z.' Spitting "Keeping it real's in my heart, n---- / Cause coming up that's all my people taught, n----" and pledging an undying loyalty to his clique, the rhyme-slinger attributes being real as a way of life in the Big Easy.
Juve and B.G. make no apologies for their misogynistic lifestyle on 'Dog Ass.' On it, the shameless duo bask in their promiscuous glory. "I play the game how it go / A different hoe every night in my condo / I throw d---s like Elway throw a football / I car less about a bitch, I f--- friends and all," raps B.G.
'Cash Money Roll'
B.G. slows down the tempo with the laid back 'Cash Money Roll.' With a groovy number courtesy of Mannie Fresh, the original Hot Boy gives us a glimpse into his day to day life as a CMB soldier. Celebratory in tone, it's a welcome departure from the more bouncy offerings and one of the albums superior tracks.
'N----z In Trouble'
The family affair continues when B.G. dials in Lil Wayne and Juvenile for added reinforcement on 'N----z In Trouble.' Juvenile gets out-shined by his younger counterparts, who both come correct lyrically, but his performance doesn't weigh down the track by any means.
B. Geezy proclaims his gangsta credo without a hint of shame. Crediting his older UPT homies for schooling him in the art of being true to the game, he makes no secret about his love of being a thug and putting in work.
Over a superb Mannie Fresh beat, B.G. crafts a semi-autobiographical account of his turbulent youth. "I done done it all from jacking and slanging, n----, trust that / Stealing cars, snorting dope, getting bust at / Never going to school, all kind of bulls--- / Calling my momma in, I got her looking unfit," he spits. The track is an honest glimpse of the environment that birthed his criminal ways.
'Uptown My Home'
On the hometown anthem 'Uptown My Home,' B.G. pays homage to the neighborhood he helped put on the map. "Uptowns my home, that's where I do my dirt," he raps. Elsewhere, the NOLA legend name-drops a few of his signature stomping grounds while giving you a quick tutorial about life in the UPT.
'Bout My Paper'
The album closes out with the brooding 'Bout My Paper.' Cliche lines about being a paper chaser and getting it by any means do nothing to bolster the track and makes what should've been a epic close-out just another track in the shuffle.
Label beefs, prison stints and a noted battle with drug addiction may have derailed his career, but B.G. is still regarded as a southern street rap legend. Much of that respect was earned by his underground efforts, but cemented with the release of what most consider his landmark album, ‘Chopper City in the Ghetto.’
The LP’s most memorable hit ‘'Bling Bling' still holds the rare distinction of altering the English language. With the clique's slang term for truck jewelry added to Webster's Dictionary, B.G. and his crew were a major proponent in birthing the mainstream media’s love affair with street slang (for better or worse).
Aside from historic implications, the album was also a coming out party for CMB’s runt of the litter Lil Wayne. Stealing the show on 'Bling Bling' and showing the promise of a superstar with a number of standout appearances on the album. However, the real star of the LP may have been Mannie Fresh, who provided a plethora of New Orleans bounce-inspired bangers on the collection.
Despite never reaching the star status labelmates Juvenile and Lil Wayne would achieve after their respective albums, musically, B.G. solidified himself as the anchor of the CMB ship. The most lyrically superb offering from the crew's first wave of major label releases, the teenaged vet displayed a maturity far beyond his years. Recounting various encounters in the UPT with the coldness of stone-faced killer, the album was an uncensored look into the Uptown blocks the young prodigy affectionately dubbed ‘Chopper City.’
And 15 years later, we can still say the album still has us scared s---less of New Orleans and remains one of the finest representations of southern-styled gangster rap to this day.