After establishing himself as one of hip-hop's most visible, prolific acts, B.G. virtually disappeared off the radar. Now, the man whose "Bling Bling" song became a national phenomenon and whose tremendous success as an independent artist helped secure Cash Money Records' landmark deal in the late '90s with Universal Records is finally set to return to the scene.
Livin' Legend, his seventh solo album and the follow-up to 2000's Checkmate, is scheduled to hit shelves in February and will be the first release from the rapper's own Chopper City Records.
"I'm not with Cash Money no more, so I'm sure people are going to be wondering if [my music] is going to be as good as it was when Mannie Fresh produced it," B.G. said. "I feel like it's even better. It ain't too different from what I usually do or what you've heard from me before. It's uncut, raw and grimy, what the game is lacking right now."
The 38-cut double album features production from Ke'Noe, newcomer Kidd and B.G. himself.
B.G. is eager to reconnect with his fanbase after his hiatus, which was caused by legal entaglements with Cash Money Records. "I've got to make up for the two or three years that I've been gone," he said. During his absence, rumors circulated that B.G. had OD'd, while other rumors alleged that he was unable to deal with his addiction to drugs, something he has rapped about extensively on his albums.
"It's no secret," B.G. said of his drug use, which he stressed is a thing of the past. "Everybody makes mistakes. Yeah, I used to get down. I don't get down no more and that's that."
B.G. doesn't get down with Cash Money anymore, either. After his second album, 1996's Chopper City, became one of the hottest albums in the South, B.G. became a bargaining chip for the emerging Cash Money Records, whose roster at the time also included Juvenile, Hot Boys and Big Tymers.
Once a deal with industry giant Universal Records was secure and B.G.'s Cash Money/Universal Records releases, 1999's Chopper City in the Ghetto and 2000's Checkmate were certified platinum and gold, respectively, B.G. said that Cash Money executives Ronald "Slim" Williams and Brian "Baby" Williams still would not pay him the money he was owed.
"I was young," B.G. said, who, now 22, had been a member of Cash Money since he was 10. "I didn't know no better. I looked up to them and respected them. I felt like they wouldn't do me like that, but I was wrong. [Baby] calls himself the Birdman, but he wants to birdfeed me. It's cool, you f---ed me over and I learned my lesson. It's time for me to move on."
Cash Money Records representatives did not respond to interview requests.
B.G. said he is still on good terms with a number of his former labelmates. He and Juvenile, who has also left Cash Money, are working on a deal to record another Hot Boys album together, while B.G. hopes to sign Turk, another former Cash Money artist, to his own fledgling label. In addition to B.G., his younger brother Hakim is also on the roster of Chopper City Records, which has a distribution deal with independent powerhouse Koch Entertainment.
While he waits to see how those developments unfold, B.G. is ready for Livin' Legend to hit the streets. "I covered everything," B.G. said of his forthcoming LP. "It's a full, complete album. I've got my sh-- on there for my street n---as, my hot girls, for crossover, my reality sh--, my club sh--, my radio sh--. It ain't lacking nothing.
"The streets ain't got to worry about me," he continued. "They ain't got to wait that long anymore. People have been waiting this long. They ain't gonna be disappointed at all."