How Heroin Stole B.G.’s Career
As documented in the 1990 HBO film Rebound: The Legend of Earl “The Goat” Manigault, New York basketball legend Earl Manigault was a figure of folklore, whose talents and body withered away due to his consistent heroin use. A child prodigy who allowed the monkey on his back to contribute to him doing multiple bids of incarceration that ultimately cost him his career, Manigualt’s story is eerily similar to Christopher Dorsey, better known as New Orleans rapper B.G.
Before he let the world know that Cash Money was an Army, better yet the Navy, he was Lil Dougie, Cash Money’s tiny tyke and half of the duo the B.G’z (Baby Gangstaz). The other member of the group was 12 year old Baby D, who would be later known to the world as hip-hop legend Lil Wayne. While Wayne is nearly unrecognizable on early recordings spitting about the streets through his pubescent voice, Dougie sounded and looked like a seasoned street vet. Even at 14, Dougie had mastered the art of storytelling, depicting life in the rough streets of the 13th ward of New Orleans, Valence & Magnolia to be exact.
Despite being a adolescent, Dougie was ahead of his time, as was evident on the B.G’z 1995 debut album True Story, when he didn’t let his age prevent him from being on the frontline of Cash Money’s waging war with cross town rival Big Boy Records and and artist Mystikal. Before Mystikal was a star for No Limit, he was a local success in New Orleans, a Gulf War vet engulfed in a war of words with Cash Money hit group U.N.L.V.
B.G. stood on the front line for his label, attacking Mystikal on the album over rumors that he was a cheerleader in high school.
“Now this nigga is a muthafuckin’ dick beater
Heard at Cohen he was a muthafuckin’ cheerleader”
In 1996, Cash Money recognized the talent of the maturing teen, and decided he would be a solo artist, giving him the B.G. moniker as Baby D became Lil Wayne. The year saw the release of B.G.’s debut album Chopper City, an album regarded as one of the hardest gangster rap albums of all-time. Authenticity has always been a major key in hip-hop, and B.G. was real as they come. The album’s lyrics reflected the up’s and down’s of the street life, from doing dirt to hard times to death. But the biggest draw of the album was B.G.’s vulnerability, and willingness to lay his vices on the line.
One of the recurring themes of the album was B.G.’s use of heroin, better known as “dope” or “furl.” Like Baltimore, Heroin continued to sweep the streets of New Orleans long after it was replaced by crack-cocaine as drug of choice in other corners of the country.
Getting “loaded” was as recreational in the 504 as smoking weed, and the city’s music reflected it. Even Cash Money CEO Bryan “Baby” Williams rapped about it in 1993. Known at the time as B-32 (Baby With The 32 Golds), Baby detailed his addiction and where he copped his heroin on the single “I Need A Bag Of Dope.”
In 1997, B.G. released his second album It’s All On U Vol 1., an independent success that along with newly-signed artist Juvenile’s Soulja Rags helped land Cash Money the monumental deal with Universal Records that led to their commercial success.
B.G. proved he was consistent by dropping another classic album that year in It’s All On U Vol. 2 shooting up the Billboard charts and establishing Cash Money as a force to be reckoned with. Instead of the album being a pivotal step forward for the 17-year-old, his addiction to heroin had gotten worse, and the chorus of the song “I Be Thinking” reflected it.
“I be loaded, thinkin’ of Range Rovers
Maybe I could get a Range Rover if I stay my ass sober
I be loaded, thinkin’ of condos
Now, maybe I could get a condo if I keep my nose closed”
Then it was his verse on Juvenile’s “Welcome To Tha Section” off of 1997’s Soulja Rags, which further delved into the teen’s everyday battle.
“Uptown clown, gettin’ so dirty
Respect my fuckin’ mind, gotta get my nose dirty”
Cash Money label heads and brothers Brian and Ronald “Slim” Williams formed the “Hot Boys,” a group consisting of B.G., Wayne, Magnolia rapper Turk, Juvenile and Bulletproof. Bulletproof left the group to pursue a solo career through the label, and the quartet released their debut Get It How U Live! in Fall of 1997. The album garnered exceptional sales for an independent release, selling over 300,000 copies. But it was the success of Juvenile’s 1998 album 400 Degreez that thrust Cash Money into the national spotlight. While the album sold over 4 million copies, the Hot Boys followed their debut with the acclaimed 1999 album Guerilla Warfare. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Charts, selling more than 1 million copies in less than four months.
B.G. and Juvenile were regarded as the superior emcees in the group, with the argument over who was better coming down to preference. While Juvenile jumped out of the t.v. and stereo with his charismatic personality and boisterous sound, B.G.’s drunken drawl and unorthodox flow was unique. That year B.G. released Chopper City In The Ghetto, his highest-selling release, going Platinum and catapulting his career. The albums single “Bling Bling” became a hit while the term became a universal slang for jewelry.
While Cash Money was at the top of the rap game, the heroin had it’s artists at their lowest. B.G. and Turk consistently missed shows and appearances, getting so high that they often couldn’t even make it to video shoots.
In 2016, Turk detailed the hold heroin had on members of the group in an interview with the Murder Master Music Show.
“It started off like how n*ggas drink syrup and pop pills today. It’s like a fashion statement, everybody is doing it, that’s what they are rappin’ about,”
Turk also spoke on Baby and Slim’s constant attempts to wean the members off of the drug, to no avail.
“A lot of people thought that Baby and Slim was encouraging us to do drugs, but they use to be mad at us when we would come to the studio loaded,”
B.G. was one of the biggest names in the industry, and a verse from the New Orleans emcee was sought by rappers from all over. B.G. earned the respect of his northern peers after appearing on Queens rapper Prodigy’s “Y.B.E. (Young Black Entrepreneurs)” in 2000. That year he released Checkmate, his fifth and final album on Cash Money. Despite going Gold, financial issues and Baby trying to “brainwash” him out of millions led to the split.
In 2001 B.G. attempted to get help for his addiction, checking into a treatment program in Minnesota, but his efforts were to no avail. After establishing Chopper City Records in 2002, B.G. aired out his riff with Baby and Lil Wayne on the 2003 album Livin’ Legend. He continued his onslaught on 2004’s Life After Cash Money, which failed to recapture the success of previous releases.
While B.G. gradually faded from the national spotlight, Lil Wayne was becoming a star in his own right, after the success of his 2004 album The Carter. On the album, Wayne addresses the riff with B.G. on “I Miss My Dawgs.” While many blamed B.G.’s departure and venom on heroin abuse, Wayne refuses to forget their history.
“That Hot Boy shit still in me nigga, word the giggity nigga
And I ain’t got time to speak the history
I miss you and I know you missin me Gizzle”
Shortly after, B.G. temporarily got clean and released of The Heart of tha Streetz Vol. 1 in 2005, an underground success that cracked the Billboard Top 10 yet failed to sell considerably. B.G. released the sequel The Heart of tha Streetz, Vol. 2 (I Am What I Am) in 2006 to similar results.
B.G. disappeared from the national scene until his 2009 release Too Hood 2 Be Hollywood, a reunion with Juvenile and Lil Wayne and producer Mannie Fresh.
After releasing several mixtapes, B.G.was arrested in 2009 with several weapons and drugs in New Orleans. In 2012, B.G. was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison for the guns and charges of witness tampering.
Juvenile blamed B.G.’s heroin use in a 2012 interview with XXL Magazine, showing sympathy for his friend and former label mate.
“I think B.G. got so caught up into the drug thing, he forgot who he was. He forgot, ‘I’m a cool dude. I don’t need to carry no gun. I ain’t beefing with nobody.’ And, I think he just got caught up into the life. You know cats put him on a pedestal because he B.G. B.G. means Baby Gangster. He feel like he had to fulfill those shoes.”
While their are nearly a dozen B.G. albums and memories to capture the legacy of B.G., you can’t help but wonder what could have been had he not allowed the drugs hold him captive. There is a loyal fanbase of B.G. fans that keep his name going on social media sites like Twitter with the hashtag #FreeBGFridays and his son T.Y. has established hisself as worthy of following in his father’s footsteps.
With more than a decade left in his sentence, one can only hope that B.G. can kick the habit for good and return to to the rapper he once was despite the constant change of the industry.
Free the Baby Gangsta.