Behind The Mic: The making of ‘Back That Azz Up’ by Juvenile
(Credit: Spotify)


Behind The Mic: The making of 'Back That Azz Up' by Juvenile

Juvenile was not a well-known nationwide name in mainstream hip-hop during the late-1990s. Born and raised in Louisiana, the emcee (real name Terius Gray) began his career as part of the Hot Boys. The same New Orleans collective that birthed Lil Wayne. However, unlike his counterpart following the crew’s dissipation, Juvenile did not ascend very quickly. 

Akin to Lil Wayne, as a solo artist on Cash Money Records, Juvenile worked the Southern hip-hop scene throughout the ’90s. However, Gray decided to release his debut project much earlier than Wayne. In 1997, the lyricist released Solja Rags.

Executively produced by Mannie Fresh, the body of work failed to make waves nationwide and was aimed at the South. The project included verses from Southern artists such as Turk, Big Moe and Magnolia Shorty. 

However, in 1998, Gray hit gold when he and Fresh recorded his breakthrough track ‘Back That Azz Up’. Released as the third single for his third album 400 Degreez, the song entered the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100 and peaked at number 19. Recorded at Cash Money Studios in New Orleans by the end of 1999, the record had sold approximately 4.8million units.

In an interview with Genius, Mannie Fresh explained, “Juvy used to rap at some of my dad’s DJ events and meeting him brung out the best in me. His wordplay was so unorthodox. Basically, he was doing it off of breakbeats, and I was like, ‘What if we really put some music to this and put some structure to this!”

Speaking on the song’s production and how he approached the beat, Mannie Fresh explained, “I was thinking orchestra, let’s find a bunch of keyboards with orchestra sounds and let’s make ’em hood. [I wanted to] make the bassline something the hood would rock to.”

‘Back That Ass Up’ was a classic example of a New Orleans, and it was the ultimate Southern collaboration as Juvenile had his Cash Money counterpart Lil Wayne feature on the song.