Part of the history of G-Unit: We spoke to Nashville icon and influential manager Charlie P
By Katharina Moser
If you look into the hip hop history of the United States, from the Deep South up to the East Coast and the legendary legacy of G-Unit, there is one name that, no matter how you turn and twist it, remains a silent pivotal figure to link together an astonishing amount of household names in rap: There are few “so Tennessee” and “so Nashville” as Charlie P – the manager of Young Buck, beloved member of G-Unit and polarizing beef adversary of 50 Cent, and of Bubba Sparxxx, one of the pervasive voices of white hip hop, as well as tour manager of Southern icon DJ Paul. But Charlie P is not only manager, he is also the founder of rap label BlackFly and a rapper himself. We spoke to this dazzling personality who has his fingers in the rap game as much as very few do – and who stands witness to the ravishing complexity of art, personalities and stories in the universe of rap.
It is around noon in Nashville, and a storm is rattling outside. But it would need more than just a storm to keep Charlie P from doing what he is really good at – expanding his network in hip hop business and speaking about the stories that have brought US rap to where it is today. “I got a cup of coffee, I´m doing all good”, says Charlie with a warm laugh that makes one immediately grasp the charisma that surrounds him. The new year has started well for him, and he wants to build on the work he has done in 2022 – and a lot of work it has been, as he explains. “2022 was a year of clarity for me personally and professionally. I got to get my hands dirty again, do a lot of work, be back to a field a lot more. I worked with a lot of artists, making phone calls, getting a seat on my executive position”, he says. “I really needed to work harder”, he admits with a grin.
Being so many years in the business, he has come a long way, and the influence he has had in the hip hop industry is enough to fill dictionaries. His career started around 1999 as a rapper, signed to a street label that was also working with Jelly Roll and Haystack at that time. But soon enough he realized that he needed to do something else, and started the artist development company BlackFly Music. “That turned into me actually listening to the current state of music at the time”, Charlie ponders. From there he kept on building his business, with a focus on the newly emerging music video directing. “Within a year´s time we had completed maybe 180 music videos and had created a network of hungry entertaining underground artists – we started to really get noticed. Some of the major artists started to take notice of our work.” Among them were DJ Paul and Gangsta Boo from Three Six Mafia and Young Buck. “The first artists that I remember speaking to and working with was Bizarre from D12, the hip hop formation that brought Eminem to fame. From there we built a network of artists who were trying to get exposed, getting known in the business, looking for collabs.”
These diverse contacts into the industry enabled him to get in touch with those rappers that have shaped the genre and its history like no other – one of them Young Buck, a Nashville original as well, featuring on several Tupac songs and most of all member of the grand hip hop formation G-Unit around 50 Cent. Buck was part of the group around 50, Tony Yayo, and Lloyd Banks for albums such as “Get Rich or Die Tryin”. He was thrown out of the unit by 50 Cent a few years later, however, following a beef around media-effective accusations and diss tracks. Charlie has been managing Young Buck for almost a decade now, and has played a major role in reconciling the two rap moguls in the unit again. The story of how all this came about is one of those that are engrained in Charlie´s memory like no other. “DJ Paul who I was working with at the time came to Nashville to do a song with Buck one day. He didn’t tell me anything, just said, meet me there. He said, man Imma call you when I get there. I didn’t think about it no more”, Charlie recalls with a big smile. “Buck and me had been talking for about a month. Then one day he too hit me up and said, man come to the studio asap. I did, and DJ Paul came around and was like, man I know this nigga, I still owe him money.” Charlie laughs heartily. That day they got in the booth and recorded the song “Mad at me” together. “At that time, Buck was going through his thing with 50 Cent, having been kicked out of G-Unit, and all the internet stuff around it. The way I was looking at it, Buck represents my town, my city. We don’t have much, and here we are talking about hip hop, about rap music, about our culture. I don’t need anything making it harder for us coming from Nashville to do what we do. It was always my goal to work with Young Buck. To help him and show the greater side of his career and his talent, and also of the city I come from”, Charlie tells us. Probably, nobody would have guessed then how much Charlie would succeed with this vision – and how much of an impact his commitment would have on nothing less than the history of hip hop.
“In 2014, Buck got out of prison. He started to do a lot of freestyling then, and also Yayo was doing a lot of solo projects. G-Unit was not moving as a whole any more at this time”, Charlie recalls, having his fingers just on the pulse of the time. “I asked Buck, man what was really the issue about you and 50 Cent. We hadn’t talked about it in detail. And so I said I´m going to reach out to 50. And Buck was like, man whatever.” Charlie chuckles at this thought. “The internet was full of people saying that they wanted to see G-Unit come back together again. I sent an email to 50´s management, but I wasn’t expecting a response. Those two were world stars at the time. We would do a song with Buck and release the video to it and it was a world star song two hours later. We were really catching a lot of traction.” Amidst of this stardom, the beef between 50 Cent and Young Buck had been so thoroughly controversial and hateful, it seemed, that nobody had high hopes about any easy reconcilement – except for Charlie, however. “About a day after I sent the email, we are in the studio and I get a phone call and it´s 50 Cent. And I said to him, yeah man it´s been long enough. Like six or seven years of dispute at the time. I hadn’t talked to Buck about it yet.” Charlie grins. “And 50 Cent was like, ok man, let´s get him on the phone. So I get off the phone and get to Buck in the studio where we recording at the time. And I go to Buck and I´m like, yo man, are you ready to do a call? Buck said, what are you talking about. And I said, I got 50 Cent on the phone. He basically cut me out and asked, you really got this motherfucker on the phone, like what the fuck? And I said, yeah why not?” One can hear the enthusiasm in Charlie´s voice as he recalls the story – an unmistakable love for the genre mixed with the humble wish to contribute to it. “The moment Buck got on the phone it was like they never missed a day. They really stayed on hold for quite a while.” Charlie knows how much of a surprise this is to hear for those who only know about the sensational, conflict-hungry coverage of the industry and the boulevard media, who had been headlining their diss tracks, released taped phone calls, label conflicts, court cases, and deal rumors for years. “Oh yeah, it surprised me and everybody. I couldn’t believe it. I was like, man look at all the time that has been lost”, Charlie says, and continues to reveal a lot more about the two rappers and their beef that fans and media might not have had an understanding for: “It don’t seem like there was ever a problem between 50 Cent and Young Buck. There is no problem with them guys personally. In the business for the sake of their perception in the industry – ok, that’s whatever. But man to man, 50 Cent and Young Buck buzzed for real. They got a lot of love and respect for each other. Hip hop is just one of the dirtiest games ever”, Charlie explains. A couple of days after the decisive phone call, the group was in New York at the Summer Jam – for their G-Unit reunion. So it was on Charlie that the legendary formation reunited after years of feud? To a certain extent yes, but he likes to stay humble. “I took the initiative to get Buck´s ego or pride or whatever it was aside to reach out and start the conversation again. And it was well embraced. I did my part.” He does not want to speculate about other conflicts and dispute within the unit in those years – “I never spoke to 50 Cent about his relationship to The Game, and I never understood anything about G-Unit´s relationships to anybody outside of Buck.”
With Buck being from the South, it is somewhat special how his music and style fit into G-Unit and to 50 Cent, and it is an expression of what hip hop can do – uniting different stories from different backgrounds in one artistical message. “It is special”, Charlie agrees. “Look at 50 Cent – he is from the East Coast, and hooked up with Dr. Dre from L.A., with Eminem from the Midwest, and with Young Buck from the South. Look at this chemistry, look at how special they was. It doesn’t matter what happened, what anybody does, what anybody says – that is a chapter in hip hop culture forever. It´s never going anywhere. Look at how these guys from different areas were creating this, having fun, moving people all across the world. And I´m proud of it.” According to Charlie, G-Unit is, however, history, and rightly so. “If they kept on coming back, it would lose some of its mysteriousness and power and value. It is where it is.” 50 Cent has re-invented himself as a tv mogul in the meantime. “We got to do the same thing. You are part of the same fabric. Re-invention is important not only for the G-Unit guys but for everybody, including myself.” At the same time, Charlie´s outlook into the future of hip hop is optimistic. “We got new G-Units out here. All the rappers out now grew up on G-Unit. They pay homage. We called it the golden age. But the next generation has to position their own G-Units.”
Charlie is not only a manager and video director though, he has also been rapping himself. That however, he insists, has not really left a footprint in the industry. “My music never mattered as much as to bring everything out. My legacy to me personally is the people who know me. My music to me is more therapeutic than anything. I get a lot of stuff that I don’t have any people to talk to about. When I do music, it´s pretty much my testimony, it´s my heart, my journal. Maybe I´m just too personal with my music to share it”, Charlie thinks. “I´m comfortable with what I do: I´m in the business, I´ve seen a lot of things, made a lot of friends and money. I have experienced things that I wouldn’t experience by just staying in a box and rapping.”
All the while, Charlie has stayed closely connected to his city Nashville. “Nashville is a crazy place”, he says, and grins. “When the rest of the world looks at Nashville, the first thing that comes to mind is country music. But to me country music is what Young Buck does, it is what I do. To me, country music is not necessarily a sound, or a genre, it is about where you are from. If you are from the country, from Nashville Tennessee, country is the music you´re going to do whether it be hip hop or whatever”, Charlie argues. “Music is an emotional thing, it is not meant to be put in a box. In Nashville Tennessee, man, we get it too, we got a story to tell too. It is not just country music. We got talent, emotion and heart too. We got fucking good music”, Charlie says with heartfelt conviction. “It is time to dig into history of Nashville. This is our story. Nashville is the country man! It’s a big melting pot, we got everything man, everything.” He laughs.
All this hip hop history, as Charlie´s life work so far shows, is not only written by the rap superstars, by the faces on the screen in youtube videos clicked millions of times, in the names that endlessly recur in American boulevard magazines. It is just as much written by the people behind the famous, by those whose stories of grit and struggle and resilience are re-enacted in the very songs that they help to bring into existence. “These people have lots of crazy stories to tell. All the guys behind the scenes, the video directors, photographers, assistants, role managers, fashion designers, the drivers, the security – we talk about these guys because they know a different side to the story of the rap icons the fans adore. It’s a brotherhood between everyone. They got a different perspective. Behind every icon in the hip hop industry there is a whole team, and if the star wins, the whole team wins. This is what makes it special”, Charlie says. That is why he continues to support artists and newcomers in the game. In 2023, he plans to recruit new team members for BlackFly Music in order to get “young, motiviated new guys, new ideas, new talents. I want to learn from them as well.”
Now who is Charlie, aside from the very likable voice at the other end of our videocall, aside from the manager who co-wrote hip hop history like few others? “I´m from the same dogtrench places-slum of the world just like any other gangster rapper out here. But that doesn’t define me, it only made me who I am. I evolved to learn that a smile is priceless. Happiness is priceless. I have so much to be proud of, to be grateful for. I have made it through a lot. And I´m going to share it with the world. I´m going to give this energy to the world”, he answers. “I don’t care about accolades, I don’t care about trophies or medals or plaques. I care about making an impact with individual people. What I do is not what defines me. I´m not a manager. I am a man that can manage. I´m not a rapper, I´m a man that can rap. I´m not a video director, I am a man that can shoot videos.” He laughs again – an inviting and contagious laugh that certainly contributes just as much to the answer to our question as his words do. Talking to him like that, it becomes clear that listening to hip hop music does not only put a tune in your ear and a famous face in front of your eyes – in a very profound and everlasting way, it is a whole new world that unfolds with hip hop before those that are willing to listen.
One thought on “Manager Charlie P speaks out about Young Buck and 50 Cent”
I love this it speaks blessings and growth. We grow daily but to Give it sincerely is something that the world has been missing for a long time. Love it Charlie P
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