In his decade-long career, Juvenile has overcome countless hardships, from tragic family deaths and legal disputes, to the devastating impact of Hurricane Katrina. Still, the New Orleans native persevered and has released eight solo studio albums and four successful projects with the Hot Boys since breaking onto the scene with his debut studio album on Cash Money Records, "Solja Rags" (1997).
But it wasn't until his sophomore studio album, R&B/Hip-Hop Album No. 2, "400 Degreez," that made people take Cash Money seriously. One track from the album that shined through was Juve's anthemic Hot 100 top 20, "Back That Azz Up," which Young Money member, Drake revamps on "Practice," off "Take Care."
After remaining under the radar for most of 2011, the former Cash Money rapper returns to the game with his ninth studio LP, "Rejuvenation," on Dec. 13. Fans got caught up in a nostalgic trance when Juve's first single "Power," featuring Rick Ross and produced by Mannie Fresh, dropped, showcasing a vintage 'Nawlins flow many had forgotten. During rehearsals before his hometown show, The Juice pulled the seasoned MC away for an update on the forthcoming album, working with Drake and a Hot Boys reunion.
"Power" really turned a lot of heads when it hit the 'net.
I appreciate that man, thank you. That's Mannie, he's a master mind. It's a pleasure to have Mannie Fresh on the team. Sometimes he makes tracks that lead the way for me and this is one of them.
Whose idea was it to sample Snap's "Power"?
That was Manny's idea. A lot of cats hate on me for that but that was a classic. It's kind of amazing the way he took that from there and made it like this. I needed something to send to Rick Ross. That was something that he referenced to me.
A lot of your fans didn't really know the status of your relationship with Mannie.
You know what it was? We'd been bumping heads here and there, doing shows together but we never got a chance to sit down and really get in the studio until now. I'm glad that same man is now 85% on my new album. I think he was chillin' in Houston and I was chillin' in New Orleans and we [were] just doing two different things. I don't think of it as in "separate ways" or like that.
Was it your idea to get Rick Ross on "Power"?
I'm just a fan. I like real, real hip-hop - -when cats really rap, really rhyme and really put words together. I think he's one of them. Ross is in my top five best MCs [out] right now.
Who are the other four?
What does your upcoming album, "Rejuvenation," mean to you?
When you've been in this as long as I have, it's kind of hard to be observant you know. I'm not really judging albums like that. What I can say is that it's a real grown album. It's me being myself. I'm not trying to be anyone else. You know me, I'm a cat who's going be as creative as possible.
Are there any other big features on it that we can look forward to?
Drake, it's kind of a more flavorful thing. You know what's funny about that, I never heard the track. I actually went in blind and trusted Mannie. It's more like Drake going to do something and I'm gonna follow him on the song. There are other cats I've worked with like Lloyd, and Trey Songz, that's my guy. Before his career took off I did songs with Trey Songz.
You've mentioned liking Drake's remake of "Back That Azz Up."
Yeah, I think he killed his version. His version is more like an R&B song and my song is more like a club record. I think he was creative in taking it somewhere else. I ain't necessarily think he was going make the song exactly like me. It's like R&B with a rap twist.
Speaking of that record, have you ever thought about making a "400 Degreez Pt. II"?
You know what? I was waiting on Universal to come to the table [with] that one. We were talking about it last year. I don't want be the person to go and mess with something that's a classic and not do it justice. The original Cash Money members have to be involved. I'd have to get BG, Turk, Wayne and it would have to be like that. "400 Degreez" was my album but it wasn't just me, it was all of us. It was always a group effort.
It really showed people the struggle going on in Magnolia...
I don't think New Orleans thought that our music could have an impact on the way [of] life. When you're making music you're not trying to think that. You're tying to make some good songs. You're so hungry that you're trying to make a song that's overwhelming so that everybody likes you. That's what it's about. If you can convince people to love your hood and see the way you live and they become interested in the way you live, then you're doing something right.
What are the chances of a Hot Boys reunion?
I would love to do a Hot Boys reunion record. I talk to Baby here and there but it never comes up in the conversation. It's more like, 'How you doing? Is everything okay with you?' We never talk about that. It bothers me like it bothers everybody else. I would love to get a record out there for all the people that never knew anything about the Hot Boys; so they could hear how we sound. [But] It's out of my control.