Soulja Slim and the Cut Throat Comitty
Once upon a time in the south… In the town of New Orleans, known for its jazz background, a few record labels brought a new sound to the hip-hop landscape in 1998. “Bounce” music was undeniably well-received, hitting top spots on the Billboard charts, as well as boasting over (a reported) 150 million albums sold by No Limit Records and Cash Money Records alone. This has pushed Master P (Percy Miller), the creator and owner of No Limit, to a nine figure net worth, with a wealth of other business ventures. Out of the roster of almost 80 artists on the label, only a handful have been worth more than a couple million at any given time though. Most of the (non-Miller family) artists who did reach the millions all had separate business deals after No Limit that were (probably) what got them to that point. Snoop Dogg, has been a regular on reality TV, Mystikal had a couple hit songs with The Neptunes after leaving the label and Curren$y has been on a steady ascent both with Cash Money/Young Money and now independently. It’s not hard to see why the artists would want to strike out on their own, and try to parley that bit of heat into a sustainable career. Soulja Slim (James Tapp) was one of the early additions to the label, releasing “Give It 2 ‘Em Raw, which hit #13 on the Billboard charts selling over 82k the first week. Soulja Slim has stated that he received about $600,000 from Miller for the album, which totaled sales just short of “gold” at 450k+. This equals out to a little over $1-per-album sold. Slim used a large portion of that money to buy his mother, Linda, a house in the Gentilly neighborhood of New Orleans. Slim was incarcerated when G.I.2.E.R. was released, so he wasn’t able to participate in promotion or the joys of having a hit record. When released from prison in 2001 Slim dropped “The Streets Made Me”, then was shortly thereafter incarcerated again. It was a decent album but No Limit Records had already lost its all-star production team Beats by the Pound, as well as most of its high-profile artists, so it felt like the album was an afterthought for Miller. Slim spent the next couple years shelved on No Limit’s roster while Miller tried to make his son, Lil Romeo’s career happen. As stated, most of No Limit's roster had left by the early 2000s. This was a label that was built on being an “army”, who boasted about loyalty and being souljas, but ended with most artists saying they had been ripped off by Miller. Master P, in turn, had his new or remaining artists calling them out on records and screaming the same propaganda their predecessors had. Soulja Slim released the album “Years Later” on his new Cut Throat Comitty Records label in 2002. Most of the beats were provided by a French producer, Zo a.k.a. Jeezo and heavily featured 12 A’ Klok and Tre-Nitty, the first Cut Throat artists. While G.I.2.E.R. was a classic dirty south album, Years Later took that style and mixed it with a new synth-y sound provided by Zo. The album sold over 25k copies in New Orleans alone, (full albums sales unavailable) showing how much his area loved him. Slim took multiple shots at Master P and other No Limit artists on the album, more as a warning to those younger cats not to get caught up in the same situation. Around this time, Slim joined fellow New Orleans rapper Juvenile (disenchanted Cash Money artist) on his Slow Motion single, which hit #1 on the charts. This would go on to make Slim one of only six artists to have a posthumous #1 single. On November 26th, 2003 James “Soulja Slim” Tapp was shot to death on the lawn of the house he had bought his mother. A known knucklehead (hitman, thief, enforcer) Garelle Smith was arrested for the murder. The police had reason to believe he had been paid $10,000 by a “rival rap artist” to kill Slim. Smith was caught with the gun, a stolen service pistol, that had killed Tapp, but because of no witnesses coming forward, was released without charges. Smith would be arrested for connections to, at least, three more murders, but released for similar lack of witnesses in each case. On August 15th, 2011 Garelle Smith was found shot dead in the same Gentilly section of New Orleans, leaving the trail of murders unresolved. One of the promising artists to come from the Cut Throat Comitty, Argell ”12 A’Klok” White (a.k.a. Twelve O’Clock) had released a few albums in the time after Slim’s death. On these, he made mention of the younger group of Cut Throat artists being either complacent or responsible in the murder of Soulja Slim. While not attacking the obvious suspects Master P or No Limit, “12” seemed to hold his own camp responsible. On August 2nd, 2010 White was shot in the back multiple times on his aunt's lawn. White's aunt was Slim’s mother Linda Tapp, but from what I could find it was a different address than where Slim was killed. While the first thought is that it may have been Garelle Smith, being shot in the back in a non-execution style usually points to the murderer being someone close to the victim that could make them drop their guard. While the music world has been robbed of seeing these promising artists make their own way, both Tapp and White’s murders remain unsolved, robbing their families of the closure they deserve.