By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
The Baton Rouge rapper started out recording and selling tapes to friends in his South Baton Rouge neighborhood as a teenager—until his drawling flow caught the ear of No Limit kingpin Master P, who liked his signature track "How Ya Do Dat" so much that he remixed it for the soundtrack to his 1997 movie I'm 'Bout It. The movie and its soundtrack were both hits, though at a price: Master P's interest in movies would prove a contributing factor to the label's undoing.
Propelled by the success of "How Ya Do Dat," Bleed's first album My Balls & My Word rose to No. 1 on the Billboard R&B/hip-hop chart and to No. 10 on the overall album charts too—an impressive debut for a young man not even old enough to legally drink the bubbly that flowed so freely in No Limit's music videos. But Young Bleed signed with No Limit just as its Champagne days were reaching their end. And, as Master P turned his attention to acting, reality TV and professional basketball aspirations, his label struggled, eventually only putting out records by P's family members before it fizzled out completely. So Bleed followed up My Balls with My Own, released through Priority Records.
It was a commercial disappointment, at least in comparison with his debut, and he soon parted ways with Priority, as well. But Bleed isn't bitter about it at all. In fact, he still credits Master P for his success.
"It was just a whole lot of things taking place at one time," Bleed says. "[Master P] was naturally on his rise, as far as music into movies. He had a whole lot of things on his plate as well as Priority Records, so that came to a closing point in the midst of the time I was involved."
Now, nearly a decade later, he remains independent, but he's not complaining.
"Being independent, I was always free on the creative side," he says. "Everything is pretty much your say-so, as far as how the record is presented, how it's coming out, so on and so forth. But the main thing—as long as you're getting the money, from independent to the majors, it's a good thing."
In other words? He wouldn't turn down an offer from a major for his forthcoming untitled album. Though he just put out a collabo record, Off Tha Curb in September 2008 with his friend Freize, he's still riding the success of 2007's Once Upon a Time in Amedica, his first album since My Own to crack the Billboard Top 50 R&B/hip-hop charts and one that was widely hailed as a comeback record.
Several Dallas-area rappers were a part of the disc too—rappers who fall neither into the D-Town Boogie novelty-dance scene nor the Day-Glo, synth-loving hipster-hop set. These include the gravel-voiced Ol' Mann, everydude drawler Money Waters and gangsta rapper Loaded. Through his association with Urban South Entertainment, Bleed also has close ties with area "American Weirdo" Pikahsso and past KNON-89.3 FM "Dirty South Block Party" DJ Bobo Luchiano. In fact, so many members of Bleed's extended Carleone Family live in D-Town that it's become a home away from home.
"What I like about the Dallas area is it's always active, from Sunday to Sunday," he says. "So I'm always coming in and out of town. I'm pretty much rooted, as far as the locals in the town. It's been like a second home to me. From the streets to the club, everybody keeps their lights on, so it's a beautiful thing."
So, though Bleed may be on his Own, he's not alone.