Juvenile – 400 Degreez (Features, Recording Process & More)


400 Degreez was Juvenile’s 3rd solo album but the first to enter hip hop’s mainstream and ultimately change the genre’s trajectory.

Having previously released Being Myself on Warlock Records in 1995 and later Solja Rags on Cash Money Records in 1997, Juvenile released 400 Degreez, his 2nd album under Cash Money, on November 3rd, 1998.



Release Date

Cash Money Records released 400 Degreez on November 3rd, 1998. As noted, it was Juvenile’s 2nd album with the label, following his 1997 Cash Money Records debut, Solja Rags.

Juvenile had previously appeared on Cash Money albums, including as a member of the Hot Boys (with B.G. Lil Wayne & Turk) on Get it How u Live, as well as several of BG’s solo projects. 


Producers

The album was produced, in its entirety, by Cash Money Records’ in-house producer, Mannie Fresh.

During this era of Cash Money Records, Mannie Fresh produced every single beat on every single record, including group projects from The Hot Boys & The Big Tymers, as well as individual projects from Juvenile, B.G., Lil Wayne, and Turk.


Features

During this era, Cash Money preferred to keep features in-house, limiting the potential guests on this album.

However, 400 Degreez would become so popular within the hip-hop community that legendary New York artist Jay-Z went on to record a verse for the HA remix.

The HA remix was not part of the original album release but was included in the subsequent re-release.

Aside from The Hot Boys, Big Tymers, and Jay-Z, the album also featured Paparue.


Singles

The singles released were Follow Me Now, HA, and Back That Thang Up, with the latter being an edited version of the original song Back That Azz Up.

Follow Me Now and HA were both released as singles in 1998, while Back That Thang Up was not released until June 1999.

Of course, Back That Thang Up turned 400 Degreez into a historically successful album because of its frequent play in mainstream settings.



Album Sales

400 Degreez has sold over 6 million copies at last check, with 4 million of those sales coming by the end of the year 2000.


Recording Process

Recording Sessions

Mannie Fresh said in an interview with NPR that 400 Degreez was not sequenced and was instead recorded like a Marvin Gaye session in the ’70s. Juvenile would rap bars while Fresh and his musicians played instruments.

Because it was done organically, sometimes the verse bars would not reach 16, and the producer would have to improvise to make the hooks line up.

Collobarataive Recordings

It is believed that Cash Money artists would record during this era, not knowing which album a particular recording would end up on.

This is especially relevant to tracks that featured members of The Hot Boys, which could have ended up on the group album Guerilla Warfare or BGs solo album Chopper City in The Ghetto, which were recorded around the same time as 400 Degreez.

Because of this, some casual fans mistakenly believe BG’s hit single Bling Bling is part of this Juvenile album.


Equipment Used on 400 Degreez

SP1200

Mannie Fresh has stated that he used the SP 1200 during the recording process and that HA was produced exclusively with that machine.

Keyboards

He also used various keyboards and has cited his intention to implement orchestra music as part of Back That Thang Up. 

In-House Samples

Cash Money was known for not using samples in their productions, instead relying on the musical capabilities of in-house producer Mannie Fresh. Despite this, Fresh used creative ways of sampling that some may not have considered.

For example, he took from his own library by sampling Solja Rags on a song with a similar structure: HA. He also used various sounds within drum pads

Although he avoided using looped samples (with some exceptions), Fresh admits he was inspired by lots of music and genres when crafting his own music.

You can hear the Latin influence in Follow Me Now, the Bach influence on Back That AZZ Up, and the Mantronix influence on UPT.


HA’s Influence on Hip Hop

While Back That Azz Up is the most known record from the album, HA is the one that most significantly impacted Hip Hop. HA’s style was unique for its time and had an ongoing influence over how rappers delivered rhymes.

You can hear the song’s influence within songs from modern artists like Meek Mill, Kanye West, Drake, and many others.



Is 400 Degreez Juvenile’s Best Album?

Most would argue that the answer is an emphatic yes. 400 Degreez was easily Juvenile’s most successful album commercially, but it also remains critically acclaimed for its overall quality from both a production and performance standpoint.

Some purists would argue that Juvenile’s previous album, Solja Rags, better showcased his raw rhyming skills.

However, Juvenile also gets a chance to shine lyrically on 400 Degreez, even if it’s in lesser-known records like 400 Degreez (the track).


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