Juvenile - Project English

"Every ghetto has it's own slang," says Juvenile. "Every hood got it's own way of putting thangs. In New York, they got their own slang, and the West Coast has theirs. What I'm doing with this album is putting our slang out there so people can understand what we are trying to say. That's why I called it Project English".

Project English by New Orleans rapper Juvenile; photo by Elgin Edmonds

If anyone is qualified to break New Orleans slang into the hip-hop mainstream, it's Juvenile. After all, he was the one who had the whole nation saying "Ha" and "Back That Thang Up." Both sayings are titles to smash hit singles from his blazing four times platinum-certified national debut, "400 Degreez" (1998).

Born and raised in New Orleans' poverty-stricken Uptown area, Juvenile (Terius Grey) learned the ins and outs of poverty and Crescent City slang, growing up in the infamous Magnolia Projects. His husky delivery and rich cadences eventually caught the attention of indie label Cash Money Records. Shortly after he was signed, the label released his debut album, "Solja Rags" (1997), and the underground classic sold nearly 200,00 units throughout the southern region. It was his mastery of N'awlins' slanguage combined with his smooth and cool, "off the porch" flow that helped Juvenile transform from a local bounce artist to an award-winning national superstar.

In many ways, "Project English" is a continuation of Juvenile's 2x platinum-certified follow-up to "400 Degreez", "Tha G Code" (1999). The commonality that links all of his albums together is that each contains semi-autobiographical tales that give the listener a strong sense of what life is like in the Magnolia Projects. But unlike previous efforts, on "Project English", Juvenile consciously incorporates even more elements of the Big Easy ghetto lingo into his aural mixture of tales from 'Nolia.

"Hip hop is all about words said on top of some dope-ass music," Juvenile surmises. "Although we all use the same words because we speak the same language, word meanings change from city to city because situations are different from city to city. So different hoods have their own way of saying things, just like each hood has it's own G-code."

Produced by Cash Money super-producer Mannie Fresh, "Project English" is a delightful mix of funky, poly-rhythmic bounce-influenced beats derived from the 50's and 90's, tempered with a healthy dose of soulful R&B grooves of the 70's. "Set It Off," is the explosive lead single based on UNLV's underground classic, "Drag 'Em A River." Built around a bubbling bass line, a foreboding piano riff, atop a festive up-tempo beat, this record is a sure shot for packing dance floors in clubs across the country.

Likewise, "Mama A**" is a supercharged high energy club track in the vein of "Back That Thang Up." On the angst-filled "Sunshine," Juvenile switches from party mode and takes up the role of a street reporter, telling dark gothic tales of revenge and retaliation that take place on the streets atop an eerie piano riff and thick, rumbling bass line. Cash Money Records label-mates make guest appearances on several tracks: Lil Wayne appears on "What You Scared 4," Big Tymers are featured on "Get Your Hustle On," "They Lied" and "Be Gone." The Hot Boys, comprised of Juvenile, B.G., Lil Wayne and Turk, reunite on "4 Minutes," while Lil Wayne, Baby and Turk collaborate on the "Set It Off (The Remix)".

With hot joints like these and others, Juvenile is sure to earn an A+ with his third Cash Money / Universal album, "Project English".

Also see: Juvenile - Tha G-Code

Also see: Juvenile The Great

Universal Music Group (2001)

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