20. Soulja Slim
From: New Orleans, LA
Signature Song: Soulja Slim "From What I Was Told" (1998)
Soulja Slim was a hero in New Orleans; originally a member of the Parkway Pumpin' label, James Tapp-who was then known as Magnolia Slim, named after the Magnolia Projects where he grew up-released his debut in 1994. Parkway Pumpin' was a magnet for New Orleans talent; founded by KLC (who went on to become a key member of Master P's Beats by the Pound production crew) and his friend Dartanian Stovall, the label attracted future No Limit mainstays Mac, Mr. Serv-On, Fiend, Mystikal and Da Hound. Slim was the only one of that group to release a record (1994's Soulja Fa Lyfe) before everyone was picked up by Master P. Soulja Slim's Give It 2 Em Raw was released in 1998, went multi-platinum and debuted at #13 on Billboard's Hot 200.
His appeal was all about raw realness. Slim possessed an otherworldly confidence rooted in the streets, as epitomized in the opening lines of his prophetic single "From What I Was Told": "I'm gonna hit No Limit like Pac hit Death Row and make money out the asshole / and blow up, like the World Trade, and be protected by No Limit tanks, soldiers with K's and hand grenades." After three years behind bars on an armed robbery charge, Slim emerged in a new No Limit landscape: nearly all of Master P's roster had deserted the company, some alleging unfair business practices.
After releasing 2001's The Streets Made Me, Slim too split from No Limit, launching his own Cut Throat Comitty record label. He released Years Later in 2002, and Years Later...A Few Months After the following year, both of which featured the harrowing KLC-produced "Souljas on My Feet," an uncompromising bit of Nolia noir. Soulja Slim's collaboration with Juvenile, "Slow Motion," raced up the charts soon after its release, but unfortunately Slim would not live to enjoy its success; he was shot to death in front of his grandmother's home on the night before Thanksgiving, 2003.