UTP

Protégés of New Orleans-based Dirty South rapper Juvenile (Terius Grey), the UTP Playas were formed in 2002 as the rapper was leaving the Cash Money label. The Uptown Project Playas, named for New Orleans' Uptown district, were initially conceived as a posse, with fluid boundaries between key members of the group and guest stars like Young Buck. True to its title, the group's 2002 debut, The Compilation, has the eclectic, anything-goes feel of a good mixtape, thanks to the revolving-door studio policy that includes spots by Skip, Wacko, Soulja Slim, Lower Level, Corey Cee, and Lil Tee. The follow-up, 2003's Juvenile Presents: Street Stories, has fewer solo tracks by the various rappers and a more collaborative, freestyling feel, although the stable of guest stars features almost all of the same names. Following Young Buck's move to 50 Cent's G-Unit crew and the murder of Soulja Slim (James Tapp) on November 26, 2003, the UTP Playas downsized dramatically, curtailing the guest star spots and turning into a self-contained crew featuring Juvenile, Wacko, and Skip. Issued in 2004, Nolia Clap was the first release with the new slimmed-down lineup. ~ Stewart Mason

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