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A product of New Orleans' infamous Magnolia projects, Juvenile, born Terius Gray, has ascended way above sea level. Always determined to stay focused on reaching his life's goals, Juvenile worked at the local gas plant to help support his family and allow himself the "luxury" of following his dream of being a successful rapper. "I'm about the only one from where I come from that's doing my thing," says a reflective Juvenile.
As a burgeoning local rapper, Juvenile became instrumental in blending Hip-Hop with what is known as "bounce" music. The success of "Bounce For The Juvenile," the first-ever bounce record with New Orleans local icon, DJ Jimi, led to a short-lived deal with a small New York record label. Unfortunately, the experience left a bitter taste in Juve's mouth. He eventually opted to give up his cherished hobby, rather than do it injustice.
Thinking back to those trying times, Juvenile laments, "They wanted me to (only) do bounce music and I was telling them, 'Hey man, I'm a rapper; y'all got me twisted.'"
But he couldn't stay away from what he loved so dearly. He kept his day job, as he began to frequent New Orleans' House Of Blues on Hip-Hop night to get back into the groove of his passion. "I got my feel back and I realized one thing," he says, "We didn't have a New Orleans rapper that straight up used our language, rapped for our people. Everybody wanted to be either east coast or west coast. That's where I came in."
On his way home from another exasperating day on the job, Juvenile caught the attention of Cash Money Records, then a local boutique label making big noise in the southern region. After convincing Co-CEOs Ronald "Slim" and Bryan "Baby" Williams of his abilities and determination, the Williams brothers signed Juvenile on.
Juve's first release for Cash Money Records was the underground smash "Solja Rags" in 1997. "Solja Rags" sold nearly 200,000 copies in the southern region alone and gainfully set up the super-group, The Hot Boys. Composed of Juvenile and CMR labelmates Turk, Lil' Wayne, and B.G., Hot Boys debuted with "Get It How U Live" in 1997, mounting close to a half million sales.
The success of Cash Money Records was brought to the attention of Universal Records, who promptly struck a P&D (pressing and distribution) deal with the indie label in 1998. Under this new deal, Cash Money/Universal released Juvenile's sophomore solo project, "400 Degreez." Cannoned onto the charts by heavily rotated radio hits like the infectious "Ha," "Ha (remix)" featuring Jay-Z, and "Back That Thang Up," the award-winning "400 Degreez" has remained a staple on the charts for a year.
Juvenile's groundbreaking album continues to be recognized as one of the top releases of 1999. The album received a Billboard Award for "R&B Album of the Year;" his hit song, "Ha," garnered a Source Award for "Single Of The Year;" and Juvenile earned an American Music Award nomination for "Favorite Rap/Hip Hop Artist of the Year."
Not intent to rest on his laurels, Juvenile is aiming for the stars again. Giving listeners a full display of his raw talent, street acumen and natural sagacity, Juvenile is ready for any and all challenges.
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