It’s been 25 years of people dancing and twerking in clubs, house parties and showers alike to Juvenile’s hit song since “Back That A*z Up” (1998). A tune that has surpassed its promise “to take over for the 99 and 2000s,” Juvenile’s hit song has proven to be a musical treasure for more than two decades. Late at night, on Wednesday, June 14, about a thousand guests celebrated the twerk anthem and other songs with performances from Louisiana rappers Juvenile and Mannie Fresh at the Howard Theatre.
“I’m here today because this is a moment. Juvenile is a cultural icon,” said Nashville native, Demarius Love, who has lived in Southwest, D.C. for the past seven years. “Everyone, no matter what age, knows ‘Back That A*z Up.’ We jam to this.”
“Back That A*z Up,” or the censored version, “Back That Thang Up,” produced by Mannie Fresh, is the second single on Juvenile’s 1998 album “400 Degreez.” In 2021, Rolling Stone named “Back That A*z Up,” number 478 on their list “Top 500 Best Songs of All Time.”
“I’m here for the moment. This is history,” Love, a consultant, said, before adding that it’s also an appropriate time of year to celebrate the song. “It’s Black Music Month, so I’m here to soak it all in and have a good time.”
U.S. Rep. Troy Carter (D- La.) noted the importance of celebrating artists such as Juvenile and Mannie Fresh as 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of hip-hop.
The historicity of the moment wasn’t lost on many, including politicians.
“We know that we’re celebrating 50 years of hip-hop. Now I know you have heard before when we say, ‘Give people their roses, while they’re living.’ We don’t give hip-hop nearly the stuff they deserve.”
Earlier on June 14, Carter honored Juvenile with a Congressional proclamation. Later he took to the stage during Mannie Fresh’s set to honor him with similar accolades. Carter brought former Louisiana Congressman Cedric Richmond, now a senior adviser to President Joe Biden, onstage with him to emphasize the importance of the moment.
“Hip Hop is a universal language– a language that brings us all together,” he said. “Earlier today we presented Juvie – Juvenile, my man – with a similar proclamation recognizing his outstanding contributions. And so tonight, Mannie, we’re going to give you your roses, man… while you’re living. We need to let him know, ‘We appreciate you.’ Give him some love,” Carter told the crowd.
Mannie Fresh DJed and performed, and until just shy of 1 a.m., audiences jammed as Juvenile wowed with some of his famous hits, including “Rodeo,” “Slow Motion,” and, of course, “Back That A*z Up.”
Tiffany Chase, a licensed massage therapist and entrepreneur, who described herself as “The Hood Healer,” said she came to dance and have a good time. “It’s Juvie,” she proclaimed.
Chase’s friend, Alicia Pierce, said she attended the concert because she loves Juvenile and, as an HBCU graduate, the unifying nature of hits like “Back That A*z Up.”
“It’s part of the culture,” Pierce said.