Day 7: "Loud Pipes" – Tha Block Is Hot, 1999
Let's talk about Mannie Fresh. Matter of fact, let's make that official: This is the first in a sub-series that we'll be returning to titled, naturally, Let's Talk About Mannie Fresh.
Mannie Fresh, the people's champ, the sound of New Orleans, is of course responsible for producing the bulk of Lil Wayne's music, solo and as part of the Hot Boyz, up until around Tha Carter II. There will be a lot to talk about re: Mannie Fresh, but let's go straight to "Loud Pipes," from Wayne's solo debut Tha Block Is Hot, because wow what a beat.
When I think of Mannie Fresh, I tend to picture pretty spare, minimal production, probably because that's true of many of his most famous beats ("Bling Bling," "Tha Block Is Hot," "Get Your Roll On") and because he leans so much toward really dry synths (even here, amid the other layers, you can hear those little laser-like stabs). But on "Loud Pipes," there's a whole range of sounds, most notably those synthesized horn stabs that make it sound like the most turnt parade procession imaginable. That's not actually what loud pipes refers to—as Mannie Fresh himself explained in an April 2000 issue of Vibe, the phrase is "some southern shit. That's like changin' your muffler so your shit growls, so they could hear you comin' through that bitch"—but it's hard to imagine Mannie wasn't hinting at a pun with the sound.
Either way, it's an incredible beat. In another issue of Vibe the month prior, the writer Peter Relic points to "the sudden techno throb in the fourth chorus" on his way to deeming Mannie Fresh "the most significant rhythmic innovator out of New Orleans" since the percussion section of The Meters. Wayne, meanwhile, describes Mannie Fresh in the piece as "proven versatile," which you can see for yourself on "Loud Pipes." The guy also raps the opening verse, which includes these surreal lines: "I put piss stains on private planes, cause it's my jet nigga / Money ain't shit cause my Rottweilers drink Moët / diamond baguette bracelets for my lovers / player, I use Cristal to lubricate rubbers."
This song, like many out of the Cash Money camp at the time, is a posse cut featuring Juvenile and BG as well—as Juvenile told Noisey about the label's process earlier this year, "We just recorded, and whoever's album was up next, that's whose album the songs went on." Still, this one belonged on Wayne's album because he coasts so smoothly on the beat, dropping, among others, this great little sequence: "a blue and black Ferrari / with Nintendo and Atari / man I swear the car is awesome / vroom sorry we lost 'em." An older Wayne probably would pull up and take more pauses to switch flows in this verse—especially right after that line, when he raps "I'm back"—so it's cool to listen back and see that contrast of a rapper maturing. However, the most cool thing here is that this song bangs, and that beat still sounds hard as hell. Good talk about Mannie Fresh.
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