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Listen to Mannie Fresh's old-school New Orleans playlist

Del Cowie

Mannie Fresh is behind a lot of music. In the late 1990s, Cash Money Records broke through into the mainstream with artists like Juvenile and Lil Wayne and songs like "Bling Bling," all of which are connected in some way to Mannie Fresh. The producer was on the Cash Money roster in New Orleans, and together they released music at a prolific clip under the auspices of Cash Money CEO Brian "Birdman" Williams and his brother Ronald "Slim" Williams.

But Fresh's sonic legacy, like his hometown, extends beyond his Cash Money tenure. Before he linked with Cash Money Records — which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year — Mannie Fresh was a producer who specialized in Miami bass and bounce music, a regionally specific version of hip-hop.

"Bounce was like the essence of hip-hop, it's like call and response," Mannie Fresh says, in an interview with CBC Music. "It's just a New Orleans thing."

Given the fact that his father was also a DJ, Mannie Fresh's links to New Orleans' musical history run deep. We asked him for some songs that were connected to the city and his life.

Chic, 'Good Times'

"My dad was a DJ and the first time I heard him chop up and backspin 'Good Times' there was something that just clicked in me and I was like, 'This is what I want to do.' Like the bassline in that song. That song is important to hip-hop and this was before 'Rapper’s Delight,' you’re hearing the bassline of this song and it’s like this is a jamming song. And then when you figure out as a DJ what you can actually do with that song, that was a change in just '80s music — and 80s music to me is so jamming. If I had my genre of what I wanted to play it would probably be '80s music. I love Earth, Wind and Fire, I love Chic and I love Skyy, stuff like that. It’s just the stuff that’s got cool basslines and chords. I mean Daft Punk, I love that kind of stuff, it’s got that cool disco feel to it."

The Showboyz, 'Drag Rap'

"That’s important to what bounce music is. We just took one little loop out of it and DJs would spin it back and forth and just make it out of a breakbeat or whatever, but these is some cats from New York and the first time they ever played in New Orleans they had no idea they were going to get received that well.... And what was crazy about it was that the song was called 'Drag Rap' but in New Orleans it was always called 'Triggerman,' so they actually renamed the song because New Orleans renamed the song. It was just a phrase and when the guy says, ‘Triggerman!’ [in the song] and so it kinda caught on and we called the song ‘Triggerman!.’ And when Profile reissued the song they retitled the song 'Triggerman.'"

Cameron Paul, 'Brown Beats'

"There’s this guy called Cameron Paul who did breakbeats. One of his breakbeats was called 'Brown Beat.' And it’s got these James Brown samples in it and it’s got this 808 loop and this was one of the favourites too, that New Orleans cats love to rap off of. They just love the song 'cause it's an 808 song."

2 Live Crew, 'Beatbox'

"Some of the early 2 Live Crew songs were like 100 bpm as opposed to the ones that were faster later on, but we would always take their little breaks because there were 808 breaks. Like a lot of new songs, was just incredible to new orleans people. A DJ would just chop them up and make something cool out of it. ‘Beatbox,’ this was before [2 Live Crew] were even signed to a label like New Orleans people liked. All of those soul loops, because you could always merge them with 808 songs. Like you could take a Chaka Khan song like ‘Stay’ and put that on top of an 808 loop, that was magic. We always did open soul loops like that and put some music on top of it that you could merge with an 808 and make something cool out of it."

Deniece Williams, ''Cause You Love Me Baby'

"Everybody in New Orleans loved that song. You put it over an 808 beat and it just ran the song and the keyboards and her singing. But it was just one of those songs that took off."

Timex Social Club, 'Thinking About Ya'

"If you play that with a breakbeat song and just the a cappella, you’re winning in New Orleans all day long."

Follow Del Cowie: @vibesandstuff

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