Hood Rich arrived at a curious time for Cash Money Records. Consisting of label founder Baby (AKA Birdman) and beatmaker extraordinaire Mannie Fresh, the Big Tymers were a crucial part of the label’s identity and success, alongside the Hot Boys quartet of Lil Wayne, Juvenile, Turk, and B.G. But by the time of the Big Tymers’ fourth studio album, 2002’s Hood Rich, three of the Hot Boys had departed the imprint, leaving Lil Wayne as the sole member left. Even so, Hood Rich topped the Billboard charts and continued the Cash Money success streak, spearheaded by the album’s lead single and enduring Big Tymers anthem “Still Fly.”
Backed by Fresh’s slinky and melody-rich production, “Still Fly” captures the Big Tymers proudly clad in “gator boots with the pimped-out Gucci suits” while simultaneously bragging about being unable to afford the month’s rent. “Twenty inches, pop my feather/ The Birdman daddy, I fly in any weather/ Alligator seats with the head in the inside/ Swine on the dash, G-wagon is so fly,” raps a zestful Baby, before allowing Fresh to continue to document the flamboyant and deliberately over-the-top details of the duo’s lifestyle and rides: “Have you ever seen crocodile seats in the truck?/ Turn around and sit it down and let ’em bite your butt/ See the steering wheel is Fendi/ Dashboard Armani.”
Due to the label upheaval, the 19-song Hood Rich has less of a collegiate feel than many other releases in the Cash Money vault. Lil Wayne is the sole Hot Boy, bringing a short burst of energy to the swaggering horn-propelled opener “Slick Talkin’ (Intro).” There are plenty of guests from outside Cash Money, notably Trick Daddy making an appearance on the motivational “Da Man.” Riding a beat anchored by p-funk-styled squelches of bass, the Miami MC ventures into social commentary. “A hit of crack rock could get you f—ed up/ A ki of coke could get you rich/ But too much of this s--t can get you stuck up,” raps Trick Daddy, before railing: “Your honor, answer this question and be honest/ If you lock me up for the summer, will you support my momma?”
Hood Rich also repeatedly features Compton R&B singer TQ and Memphis producer Jazze Pha to imbue the album with a warm melodious hue. TQ appears on a quartet of cuts including the relaxed and carefree “Sunny Day,” which also features Pha’s behind-the-boards production work. “On big shiny blades, that’s how I ride/ Just like a sunny day, watch me shine,” trills TQ on the song. It’s a couplet that successfully encapsulates the aspirational Cash Money philosophy.
In celebration of hip-hop’s 50th anniversary, uDiscover Music is publishing 50 album reviews throughout 2023 that highlight the breadth and depth of the genre. The Hip-Hop 50 logo was designed by Eric Haze, the mind behind iconic graphics for EPMD and LL Cool J.