When B.G. first hit the block as a rapper, he was just barely 14. Nearly a decade later, the rapper whose “Bling Bling” song became a national phenomenon and whose tremendous success as an independent artist helped secure Ca$h Money Records’ landmark deal in the 90’s with Universal Records, is now a man and co-CEO of his own expanding dynasty, Chopper City Records.
While signed to Ca$h Money, B.G. released a string of albums, including True Story (1993), Chopper City (1997), and 1997’s It’s All On U (Volumes 1 and 2). He further bolstered his status by becoming member of the now legendary Hot Boys (Juvenile, Lil’Wayne, and Young Turk) and catapulted to superstardom when his Chopper City In The Ghetto (released in April of 1999), debuted at Number 1 on Billboard’s Top 200 Charts. He became a part of history when the term “Bling Bling” used to describe diamonds and extravagance from the album’s anthem was added into The Oxford Dictionary, a testament of hip-hop’s effect on modern and pop culture.
After releasing his sixth solo album, Checkmate, B.G. walked away from Ca$h Money and launched his own imprint, Chopper City Records. He resurfaced with 2003’s Livin’ Legend and its follow-ups, Life After Ca$h Money and The Heart Of The Streetz (Vol 1). Moving over 300,000 copies independently, B.G. has proven to himself and the industry that his fan base is still intact and his career is still solid. B.G. will release his fourth Chopper City Records album, The Heart Of The Streets: Vol. 2 (I Am What I Am) in 2006.
After nearly a decade in the business, B.G. has learned some valuable lessons which guide him as co-CEO of his own label with partner and co-CEO, Carol Dorsey, who runs the day to day business, “When I was on Cash Money, I wasn’t in the mix of how the money was handled. Being in this industry is bigger than just going in the studio. The studio is the easy part, running a business is the harder part. The game is like 90% business and 10% talent. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you don’t have your business right, you can lose everything.” He offers the following advice, “You gotta keep your management and your record company separate. It’s a conflict of interest for them to be the same.” He also advised new artist to read everything. “Before I never saw the paperwork, everything was verbal and I just signed,” he shares. “Now that I understand the business, I feel like if it ain’t it in B&W, then it ain’t right.”
His new album, The Heart Of The Streetz (Vol 2): I Am What I Am, picks up on the same streets, but on a different corner from Vol.1. “All of the songs on both Heart Of The Streetz albums mean different things to me. On this album, I’m just telling my life story. That’s why I added the I Am What I Am Part on to the title.” Describing the album as “typical B.G.,” he stays within his own circle of artists (Chopper City Boyz) and producers including the album’s lead single, “Move Around,” where B Gizzle reunites with Mannie Fresh who is featured on and produces the track. He describes the reunion as ‘magical.’ “I was in the lab working on the new album and he was in Houston. We connected and I jumped onto the first plane from Detroit to Houston.” He describes the reunion, “Being in the studio with Fresh was like being born again. I could tell he felt good being in there with me and I felt good being in there with him. He’s been a really big part of my success and he’s still family.”
Although he’s now transplanted to Detroit from his Katrina pillaged hometown, he still reps the 504, the area code of his beloved city. If you think he’s forgotten where he’s from, you’re reminded on the hook of “Move Around,” whose lyrics are I’m from the ghetto homey, I was raised on bread and baloney. He explains, “The song Move Around is just me saying I’m the same old nigga, talking about where I’ve been, my ups and downs, and where I’m at now.” He adds, “I ain’t like the average rapper that blows up, gets ahead and forgets where he came from.”
Being a guardian of the streets is not something that B.G. takes lightly. “It’s a badge of honor that I’ve earned over the years. Everything that I’ve been through qualifies me to be the heart of the streets. Muthafuckas know my history, my background, so I’ve got the right to call myself the heart of the streets. He adds, “Half these rappers when they get their success, when they’re on MTV and BET, they can’t go back to the hood. My ghetto pass is certified. People see me in the streets by myself and people respect me. I still go through the things regular dudes in the hood go through. I’m still surrounded by everyday life, so my music comes from the heart. It’s all the stuff I’ve been exposed to and I’m still young. All of my life, I’ve been in the streets and I’m still in the trenches, so when I rap about the streets people know it’s real because I’m still out there.”
The song, “Real Nigga,” bigs up his street credentials, but B.G. didn’t need a song to establish that. “People in the hood always ask me, why I’m still out there running the streets like a regular person. They say you ain’t regular no more; but I never changed, I can’t see myself changing because that’s how I’m build. Keeping with the theme of the streets is “Get Your Mind Right." B.G. explains, “I got a female on the hook saying if you ain’t a gangsta then I don’t want you, and I’m telling her what I want back from a woman.”
Featured throughout the album are his Chopper City artists including the Chopper City Boyz (his younger brother Hakim, Snype, and Mike) and Gar. “The heart’s job is to pump blood through the body to keep it alive. My job is to pump hot music to the street. To keep 9th Ward & Magnolia Projects in New Orleans alive by keeping the streets alive. “I went to New Orleans and stayed two days and it’s so emotional being there. I didn’t have any damage, but my momma lost her house she lost everything. I lay my head in my house, but because I lost everything the streets, I feel like I lost everything. We gotta rep for the 504 to the fullest wherever we living right now.”
B.G. was instrumental in helping Ca$h Money grow into a dynasty and now that he’s running his own label, he intends to do the same with Chopper City, but a little differently. “I wanna turn Chopper City into what I helped turn Ca$h Money into – a dynasty. I don’t wanna be like Ca$h Money, I wanna be better than Ca$h Money. A lot of people thought I was finished after I left and that I couldn’t carry my own weight, but I cleaned my life up and got focused. I’ve released four albums on my own on Chopper City Records, Cash Money is the past, I don’t even wanna talk about them, but people keep asking, so I’m gonna release a DVD that tells the whole story. I’m building my own dynasty right now. Let it be known that Chopper City Records is here.”
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