Hip-hop reflects kindly on DJ Premier and Guru, Pete Rock and CL Smooth and the heyday of Snoop and Dre, but where will Mannie Fresh and Juvenile land in the record books? If you were old enough to watch Rap City around the ’99 then there’s no doubt that the bounce sound brought out of New Orleans had you coughing up your cash at Sam Goody or tying up your landline hovered over Napster.
While everybody remembers the impact of “Back That Azz Up” or even the dance from “Get Your Roll On,” what even the hippest of Hot Boy$ fans may have forgot are the kicks from the “I Got That Fire” video. A Cash Money makeup for Juvie and the clique long before Drake donned his own Jordans or Kanye laced up Air Yeezys, these Solja Rag inspired Reebok Workouts were a grassroots gift from the brand to the stars and city that wore and repped Rees as proudly and organically as it gets.
Rehashed and revamped by Reebok Classic, Sneaker Politics and Humidity for All-Star Weekend and brought back out this past weekend, a new take on the Hot Boy hit is now available for all. A small group of media caught up with Juvenile and Mannie Fresh to hear about their respective kick collections, their Cash Money come-up and if either of them still have the OGs in storage.
Ian Stonebrook for Nice Kicks: Whether it was in New Orleans as a whole or in the Magnolia Projects specifically, what made the Reebok Workout such a staple coming up?
Mannie Fresh: I’m not from the Magnolia, I’m from downtown, but Juvie and them are from the Magnolia. That was the budget and when you’re young you’ve got a budget. Reeboks worked for the budget and everything that was us. It worked in the hood, you heard me?
Zac Dubasik for Sole Collector: Once people started seeing you guys wear them how fast did it take off for everybody else?
Mannie Fresh: It was always a popular shoe in New Orleans, we call them the ‘Soldiers’ down here. But once we put them on the map and started making records about them the world got hooked on them and it took maybe a couple months time and everybody was on Reebok.
Ian Stonebrook for Nice Kicks: The new Reebok Workout collab derives from an OG pair of Workout Mids that James Hardaway brought to the set of the “I Got That Fire” video. What do you remember about that day and that shoot?
Juvenile: I remember it being hot as hell because they had a lot of fireworks! And they had us on the top of the building, I changed like 100 t-shirts that day. I remember that day very vividly.
[James plays Mannie the video]
Mannie Fresh: That’s from 2000, damn I still look good! God is good!
Ian Stonebrook for Nice Kicks: The original pair from the video is like 17 years old now. Do either of you still have them either at home or in storage?
Juvenile: No, because that was before Katrina so after that a lot of that stuff was gone.
Mannie Fresh: Yeah! I’m a sneakerhead, dude. Anything that has to do with jerseys, sneakers or whatever, I have. That’s the one thing I am about. My closet is covered with everything I consider great to me. Kicks, jerseys, old school Cash Money paraphernalia? I love that kind of stuff.
Ian Stonebrook for Nice Kicks: Any examples of kicks or gear you still have from back in the day?
Mannie Fresh: All the Mitchell & Ness old school jerseys from the old Big Tymers videos. Then kicks wise, just stuff like the “De La Soul” Dunks, “Puerto Rico” Air Force 1s, even “Space Jam” 11s. It doesn’t have to be anything way out there.
Zack Schlemmer for Sneaker News: Juvenile, do you consider yourself a sneakerhead?
Juvenile: Yeah I am, I actually bought all the All-Star sneakers from Politics yesterday. I got it bad. Dame Lillard just sent me his All-Star shoes for the weekend too!
Kyle Rooney for Hot New Hip Hop: It seems you stay up on hoops, Juvie. Who were your favorite players growing up and your favorites now?
Juvenile: Definitely Larry Bird for me as a kid because I’m a Celtics fan, but all-time it’s Bill Russell because he was a Louisiana kid. Him and Robert Parish, that’s why I’m a Celtics fan. These days it’s LeBron because he sung “Back That Azz Up” on stage with me at the GQ party! If you’re cool with me and support me then I support you whether the shoes ugly or not.
Ian Stonebrook for Nice Kicks: Mannie, I read before that you used to go first come, first serve on your beats back in the day. Looking back, are there any tracks you made that you wish another Cash Money rapper would’ve got to first?
Mannie Fresh: Nah. I think all the songs that we did were a perfect fit. And it was friendly competition, that’s what made them good and what made everyone want to get to the studio first. Even our mistakes turned out good so I’m glad the way a lot of the songs turned out.
Ian Stonebrook for Nice Kicks: Just the same, a lot of the singles stretched multiple albums. Do you ever wish they were more centered around one project?
Mannie Fresh: No, because I did all of those albums and handpicked the singles. “Bling Bling” was originally a Big Tymers song but we put it on BG’s album. It was always, ‘How do we make everybody shine?’ The cool thing about Cash Money is that if we pinpointed that we were going to make a single then the whole day was dedicated to making a single.
Ian Stonebrook for Nice Kicks: Juvie, what’s one song you wish had a video that didn’t?
Juvenile: One of my favorite songs is “400 Degreez” and I think people expected it so we didn’t do it. The other song was “Ghetto Children” which I really wish we did a video for. I miss all of Mannie’s beats, but he’s doing all my beats now right so it’s not like it’s an over thing.
Ian Stonebrook for Nice Kicks: Mannie, is there anybody coming up or still out there you’d still like to work with?
Mannie Fresh: Not really, whoever’s popping I’m stopping. I’m also not the guy to look for people. That’s how TI came about back in the day and me and Big Sean are cool so I think that’s gonna happen.
Ian Stonebrook for Nice Kicks: Back to Reebok. When Cash Money was touring with Ruff Riders back in the day, were you guys getting hooked up with loads of free gear? What do you remember most about that tour?
Mannie Fresh: Reebok would send boxes and boxes. Man, just watching DMX the whole time — that dude is so energetic and just watching his presence and seeing what DMX would do each night. That tour was super family. Around that era, me and Swizz were the kids really doing the beats so we instantly became family. During that tour we never had any beef or disagreements. When we were on the East Coast the Ruff Riders went first, then when we came down south it was Cash Money. If we could get everybody we’d definitely do it again.
Zach Schlemmer for Sneaker News: Lastly, after all these years, how does it feel to have your own kicks available for sale?
Juvenile: I’m loving it like McDonalds. I had ’em on the other night at my concert in Louisville and I had them on walking into the shop. You know the number one line, ‘I need a 6.5! I need a 10, I need a 12!’
The Sneaker Politics x Humidity x Reebok Workout Low CN is available now at Sneaker Politics.