Reservoir Inks Catalog Agreement With Veteran Hip-Hop Producer Mannie Fresh: ‘His Distinctive Sound Helped Pave the Way’

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(l to r) Reservoir president and COO Rell Lafargue, Mannie Fresh, EVP of A&R and catalog development Faith Newman, and founder and CEO Golnar Khosrowshahi. Photo Credit: Reservoir Media

After investing in the work of Dion and Sonny Rollins earlier in 2023, Reservoir Media (NASDAQ: RSVR) has acquired the catalog of veteran hip-hop producer Mannie Fresh.

New York City-based Reservoir and Mannie Fresh (real name Byron Thomas) unveiled their tie-up, which “includes both publishing and recorded music rights,” via a formal release today. Though the purchasing party hasn’t publicly disclosed the transaction’s financial or ownership specifics, execs did emphasize that New Orleans-born Fresh produced in house “nearly all” the tracks on 15 commercially successful Cash Money Records albums between 1998 and 2004.

Among the Cash Money projects that debuted (with support from Fresh) during the six-year stretch are releases from B.G., Lil Wayne, and Juvenile, to name a few, encompassing popular songs such as Juvenile’s “Back That Azz Up” and Lil Wayne’s “Tha Block Is Hot” (part of the rapper’s namesake debut solo effort) and “Go D.J.” (Mannie Fresh, who penned and produced T.I.’s “Top Back” in 2006, likewise co-wrote each of the listed tracks.)

Fresh has also produced, co-wrote, and released five studio albums as one-half of Big Tymers (the other member having been Cash Money co-founder Birdman), including the Platinum-certified I Got That Work (2000). Finally, Fresh has crafted two albums as a solo act (the newest of which, Return of the Ballin’, became available to fans in 2009) and has in recent years worked with Lil Wayne, Lil Uzi Vert, Gucci Mane, and 2 Chainz.

Weighing in on the sale with a brief statement, 54-year-old Mannie Fresh said: “It’s great to be joining up with [Reservoir EVP of A&R and catalog development] Faith Newman and the entire Reservoir team. I’m grateful for their support, and I know they’ll take care of my music.”

The former Jive Records exec Newman, for her part, indicated that Fresh’s “distinctive sound helped pave the way for other producers for years to come.” And Reservoir president and COO Rell Lafargue, whose company in 2022 closed IP agreements with Run-DMC producer Larry Smith as well as Marley Marl, touted the professional accomplishments of the one-time Grammy nominee Fresh.

“I was born and raised in Louisiana and witnessed Mannie’s meteoric rise from a local DJ in New Orleans to a globally acclaimed producer, writer, and performer who helped break some of the genre’s biggest talents,” communicated Lafargue. “It means a lot to me to continue to build Reservoir’s connection to creators like Mannie, who represents the highest caliber of contemporary music from New Orleans, and we’re pleased to be the new stewards of his hit music.”

The past week or so has seen the ICM Crescendo Music Royalty Fund and Primary Wave wrap catalog deals of their own, and it recently came to light that 2023’s initial three months had delivered a record one trillion global on-demand streams.