The New Orleans rapper performed some of his biggest hits with NPR‘s signature live band and background singers, reminding fans of his timeless music.
Juvenile donned his signature camouflage bandana while the band wore khaki Dickie suites reminiscent of what the rapper frequently wore in his early days.
The rapper condensed a career spanning over 30 years into a 23-minute concert. His tracklist included 10 songs from the Hot Boy’s catalog, including “Set It Off,” “Ha,” “Slow Motion,” and the infamous “Back That Azz Up.”
Juvenile, born Terius Gray, was in his full element with the sounds of the horns played by New Orleans natives Trombone Shorty and Alvin Ford. According to NPR, Tiny Desk veteran and Grammy winner Jon Batiste flew in from Paris to musically support his fellow NOLA native.
Also on hand was the mastermind behind the sound of Cash Money Records: DJ Mannie Fresh. The innovator was the ultimate hype man as he ushered Juvenille through songs that made the rapper, along with Lil Wayne, Birdman, BG and Yung Turk.
DJ Fresh took the reigns when Juvenile ordered up “I Need a Hot Girl.” Fresh produced the Hot Boys single, but Juvenile did not appear on the track. He only appeared in the music video.
“Y’all don’t know, that’s my favorite part of the song right there,” Juvenile engaged with the live audience as Fresh warmed up.
“I ain’t even on the song, but I’m in the video,” he continued. “I love that part of the song so much, but I like the part where Turk comes on. And I know Turk don’t like me right now, he really wanna punch me in the face — that’s still my lil bro. But listen, that part of the song had to be the best part of the song, when he come in.”
As the concert was nearing its end, everyone was holding their breath for the moment that happened next. Juvenile welcomed a cellist and violinist from the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra to”cut up with him” on an orchestral rendition of “Back That Azz Up.”
Before starting, the 48-year-old rapper provided a disclaimer for all of the women in the present and who would be watching the segment. He instructed them to “get a stretch in real quick.” He didn’t want anyone to hurt themselves as it was about to get “real athletic.”
As the live strings began to play one of the most recognizable introductions ever, the crowd in the live studio went wild.
The room exploded and demanded Juvenile do an encore of the classic song, prompting him to run into the crowd to show his appreciation for their love as the strings and horns continued giving the feel of a historic “second-line” in New Orleans.
While he was entirely in his zone while performing, the road to get the rapper to the Tiny Desk wasn’t easy for NPR. After several notable artists, including fellow rapper Trina, fans demanded that Juvenile jump behind the desk for the culture.
Possibly a quick Google search convinced him to change his mind. He left the fate in the hands of his fans, bargaining his participation in exchange for 10,000 retweets
“Ok ok All Things Considered, 10k retweets and I will RECONSIDER doing @NPR Tiny Desk while drinking an ice cold #JuvieJuice from @UrbanSouthBeer,” he tweeted.
You can “Back That Azz Up” while watching Juvenile’s full NPR: Tiny Desk concert below: