DAR Hip Hop: The 10 Most Important Cash Money Albums (1994-2004)

By @TrueGodImmortal

First off, let me preface by saying this simply: there will be no Drake albums or Nicki Minaj albums on this list. We're talking the original Cash Money crew mostly on this side, and all the albums that dropped before Young Money became the dominant force in CMR. Now, the contributions Drake and Nicki Minaj made to YMCMB later on in the 2010s is undeniable, but we have to pay homage to the original Cash Money era. The original Cash Money era starts around 1993-1994 and continues onto Wayne really took his ascension into another stratosphere around 2004-2005. When things changed, you could feel the shift in Cash Money, but we always loved their work and what they did PRIOR to the rest if the world finding out how dope Lil Wayne was. The Cash Money that strictly ran off of UNLV, Big Tymers, and the Hot Boys is the era we want to discuss, and rank the 10 most important albums I  those formative and take off years in the Cash Money story. Let's get into it.

10. B.G- Chopper City (1996)

-The second album from B.G., though really his first solo is really a solid listen and the arrival of B.G. as a force in music. One of the most underrated Southern MCs, he brings it with this album that sees him flowing over nothing but aggressive Mannie Fresh production. With appearances from Bun B, Keisha, Bulletproof, Big Tymers, and Mac, this feature heavy project set B.G. to be the star of Cash Money before Juvenile was considered an integral part of the brand and label.

Top 5 Songs 
"Niggas Don't Understand"
"Order 20 Keys"
"Doing Bad"

9. Lil Wayne- Tha Block Is Hot (1999)

-The arrival of one of the biggest stars in hip hop during the 2000s came in the 90s. For all you Wayne fans who crowned him the best rapper alive during his run and think Carter 3 is a classic (it's far from that), Wayne came to prominence in the late 90s as the young teenage rapper in the Hot Boys who had wit and aggression within his raps. His first album, released in November 1999, showcases Wayne at his young best, lyrically being sound and choosing the best Mannie Fresh production possible. With features from his Cash Money family, and some hilarious songs like "Drop It Like Its Hot" and "Loud Pipes", Wayne delivered on this album that tends to be underrated due to his ascension after 2004.

Top 5 Songs
"Enemy Turf"
"Tha Block Is Hot"
"Fuck Tha World"
"Up To Me

8. UNLV- Uptown For Life (1996)

-A slept on part of the Cash Money success, UNLV is one of the biggest reasons that Cash Money stayed afloat before Juvenile and the Hot Boys took over. This album features the Mystikal diss "Drag Em N Tha River", as well as a few appearances from B.G., and features one of the toughest songs that I've had to listen to, "Pocket Full of Furl", which if you know the song well, is obvious why. Overall, this is a classic Cash Money project that gets lost in the shuffle among those who weren't listening before the huge popular rise.

Top 5 Songs 
"Pocket Full of Furl"
"Drag Em N Tha River"
"Jazzy Bitch"
"Head No Screws"
"Black Connection"

7. Juvenile- Tha G Code (1999)

-My personal favorite Juvenile album is one of the more vital releases because it represented the dominance of the label. Just over a year after the release of the classic 400 Degreez, Tha G Code dropped and kept Juve hotter than ever in the streets, as 400 Degreez was still selling pretty well also. This album has some of the most menacing Mannie Fresh production, along with some of the best Juvenile verses and with 2 million copies sold, it stands as the 2nd highest selling Juvenile and one of the few Cash Money albums to break that double platinum threshold (it's still listed as 1.8 million sold as of 2009, but numbers by now would take it over the 2 million mark).

Top 5 Songs 
"Tha Man"
"Get It Right"
"Take Them 5"

6. Big Tymers- I Got That Work (2000)

-Though neither Baby or Mannie Fresh were lyrical wordsmiths, the Big Tymers were really a fun and entertaining group to listen to. This album was one of the first ones I bought by myself at a local mom and pop store in my neighborhood. It holds a special place for a young True, but most of all, the album cemented Big Tymers as a force within Cash Money and with over 1.7 million copies sold, it's the biggest album in both men's career as artists.

Top 5 Songs 
"Nigga Couldn't Know" 
"# 1 Stunna"
"Hard Life"
"Sunday Night"
"Get Your Roll On"

5. Juvenile- Juve The Great (2003)

-Before Wayne rose to prominence as a premier rapper, Juve brought Cash Money back hard with this album. He hadn't created a big time hit since leaving the label originally and when he came back, many wondered if he could do it again. Cash Money was in a weird place, and Juve didn't get a hit right out the gate from this album, but when "Slow Motion" took off and went high on the charts, this album hit platinum status and would bring Juve back to the forefront of hip hop for a time.

Top 5 Songs
"Bounce Back"
"Slow Motion 
"It Ain't Mines"
"Juve The Great"
"Enemy Turf"

4. Hot Boys- Guerrilla Warfare (1999)

-One of the best albums to come out the Cash Money camp, and one of the first to drop after the 30 million dollar distribution deal, the Hot Boys album hit the charts with a bang. The sounds of a refined Juvenile, B.G., Lil Wayne, and Turk together over the best of the best from Mannie Fresh was simply undeniable. Some of the best songs on this album seem to be some of the most slept on songs in the Cash Money catalog, making this album definitely one of the best and most vital in the CMR discography.

Top 5 Songs 
"Respect My Mind"
"I Need A Hot Girl"
"Tuesday and Thursday"
"Shoot 1st"

3. B.G.- Chopper City In the Ghetto (1999)

-Though this isn't my favorite B.G. album, it's easily the most vital in his career and one of the biggest in the Cash Money catalog, regardless of time period. B.G. took the world by storm after the rise of Juvenile with this album, and the first single "Bling Bling" would become one of the biggest singles in the history of the label. When looking back at the album itself, it's what solidified B.G. as a household name and would cement the legacy of Cash Money, when "Bling Bling" was added to the lexicon of America and the dictionary.

Top 5 Songs 
"Cash Money Is An Army"
"Made Man"
"Bling Bling"
"Play'N It Raw"
"Dog Ass"

2. Lil Wayne- Tha Carter (2004)

-This was the album that really set off the craze for Lil Wayne. After 3 studio albums that didn't change the perception of him, it would be this album where he was seen as a force. Wayne was coming of age, and with his appearances on the Sqad Up mixtapes, he was showing that he could hold his own. This album would take him to the next level setting the tone for the 2nd chapter of Wayne's career, and reviving Wayne after a huge miss with the 500 Degreez album. Lyrically, I think this is the best Wayne album, and production wise, we get some of absolute best Mannie Fresh work in years at this time.

Top 5 Songs 
"Walk In
"Only Way"
"I Miss My Dawgs"
"Go DJ"

1. Juvenile- 400 Degreez  (1998)

-The highest selling album in Cash Money history, this was the one that kicked the door down for global dominance for the label and took them to new heights. Juve was in a rhythm on this album and had hit after hit. The first single "Ha" isn't even a top 5 song on the album, and it became a big hit, along with the national anthem for ass shaking, "Back That Azz Up", and the rest is history. The highest selling album in Juvenile's career and the highest selling album in Cash Money history (long before streams helped the sales numbers) at 5.5 million copies sold, this is not only an important moment in Cash Money history, but hip hop history, period.

Top 5 Songs
"Juvenile On Fire"
"400 Degreez"
"Gone Ride With Me"
"Run For It"
"Back That Azz Up"

Cash Money is one of the greatest labels ever in hip hop and without these 10 albums, they would NOT hold that title or even have the chance to still be in existence. These albums should be celebrated and looked at as iconic to the brand of Cash Money.



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