Juvenile and Lil Wayne used to be friends as part of the New Orleans rap group the Hot Boys. But that alliance has since gone cold, and now Juve says he doesn't have any time for his former recording partner and pal.
"I got a 15-year-old daughter. I got a 13-year-old son. You think I got time to be playing with this little boy?" Juve said.
In fact, Wayne and Juve's fallout has put a capital "F" in "former." Words have flown back and forth between the two since shortly after Wayne released the ode to the Hot Boys via "I Miss My Dawgs" on 2004's The Carter.
"That was fake," Juve said of the record. "One day he'll make a record and it'll sound so sincere. Then the next day he gets on TV and he ain't got nothing good to say about us. ... Did you [say you miss us] to sell a record? I been in situations with the dude where I felt he only shook my hand because he was scared."
To make a long story short, when Wayne went on BET to promote his Tha Carter II LP, he addressed some of the people who have left Cash Money, like Juve and B.G. The two have since dissed him on mixtapes and proper albums.
Juvenile — who just released his eighth LP, Reality Check, on Atlantic — says he feels reborn with his new record deal. After all, Juve says he dislikes Cash Money CEO Baby even more than Wayne.
"It was fun," Juve said about recording the album. "Just knowing that you're working for yourself. Every song, every beat, I'm thinking, 'This is my statement.' I'm looking at this as my first album. For the first time I'm in charge. I'm controlling my own destiny with the help of Atlantic. When I started with this album, I knew that I wanted to do songs that related to the other albums I did before. Not replicate them, but do them better. This album is based upon good music."
The song garnering Juve the most attention right now is "Get Ya Hustle On." The video, which was filmed in New Orleans, overtly mocks government officials and President Bush. Although Juve doesn't rap in an angry tone on the record, it's clear that he's lashing out.
"Everybody needs a check from FEMA," he raps. "Man, I'm trying to live/ I lost it all in Katrina/ And nobody cares what the police think."
"It's a motivational record," Juve explained unapologetically. "It's really telling you, 'Stop feeling sorry for yourself. You knew the government wasn't going to do nothing for you anyway.' There's not a person in this country that doesn't have the mindset, 'Man, this country don't care about me.' Truthfully. You ask the general public, they gonna say that. I'm saying to them, 'Look, man, go get your hustle on. Do whatever you have to do. I don't care what you have to do. You don't have no job, they ain't trying to give you no job. You got mouths to feed.' That's what the song is about. Do whatever you have to do to eat. Back to the old Malcolm X speech, 'By any means necessary.' ... When I tell you I'm angry, I'm angry."
Juve — who harbors conspiracy theories about the levees being breached — lost his newly built house and a myriad of other possessions in the tragedy (see "Juvenile, 3 Doors Down Among Those Affected By Disaster"). He's been back to the city a few times since the catastrophe, but says nothing compares to what he saw when he went back the first time.
"It's looked like '28 Days Later' or 'War of the Worlds,' " he said about returning shortly after Katrina hit. "Everything is tore up. Cars on top of houses. It was emotional, real emotional looking at my house, 'cause I just finished building it right before the hurricane hit. But material things for me, I don't worry about it. That's what insurance is for. I wish I had insurance for everybody.
"When you see that, it'll bring tears to your eyes," he continued. " 'Cause you know you looking at death. You know a lot of people lost their lives ... even if they didn't lose their heartbeats. A lot of people still living, but dead. Like the land of the walking dead. It's even worse now in New Orleans than it was the day after the hurricane."
Notwithstanding his disdain for Cash Money and the federal government, Reality Check mostly sticks to Juve's trademark feel-good anthems. Juve says he was especially excited to work with a bevy of guest stars — including Mike Jones, Paul Wall and Brian McKnight — a privilege he didn't have while on Cash Money. Besides his onetime labelmates, Juve said he can count on one hand how many cameos he had during his seven-album tenure with CMR.
"It was double jeopardy for me," he said about working with guest stars in the past. "I was in a company that didn't want to spend money on features except for the people in the company. That was another reason I had to leave: Somebody was hating on me."
It's not all bad with his former labelmates, though. Juve says he's still close with Turk and B.G. and producer Mannie Fresh, who also made a Cash Money exodus after Juve did.
"Me and Mannie been doing things together," he said. "He just produced B.G.'s new single. I like it. We back in the mode we used to be in — minus Cash Money and minus Wayne."
There has been talk of Juve, Fresh and B.G. going on tour and recording an album together, but nothing official has been announced as of yet.