The Nashville native's rhymes add a down-home, party-hearty spirit to the New York swagger of his G Unit mates. "Lloyd Banks, 50 Cent and Tony Yayo rap reality, and I do, too," says the twenty-three-year-old. "We all come from the hood. Mine's just a different hood. There was a time when it was hard for Southern artists to get a record played, but now the South is more respected."
Brown's reality ("murders and robberies and prostitution and drugs") was shaped when his mother, Audrey, lost her job as a social worker and moved the family to an apartment in Nashville's projects. In his early teens, Brown began hustling to help out with expenses, picking up the nickname Young Buck. "Older cats in the game admired the fact that I was so young," he says. After impressing Cash Money Records CEO Bryan "Baby" Williams at a Nashville recording session when he was sixteen, Brown spent the next four years shuttling back and forth between Nashville and New Orleans, doing odd jobs for the Cash Money crew. Back in Nashville, a stranger broke into Brown's apartment late one night and shot the rapper twice. "He was probably trying to rob and kill me," Brown says. "I lost so much blood, I almost died."
Brown was recording on Juvenile's tour bus when he was introduced to 50 Cent in New York in 2001. After some freestyle sessions, 50 turned "Blood Hound," a Brown solo track, into a duet and put it on his blockbuster debut, Get Rich or Die Tryin'. After Brown was inducted into G Unit, he used a big chunk of his advance money to take care of his mother, who initially resisted his efforts to move her out of the projects. "It was more or less what she's used to," he says. "But she's got more space than I do now. She's on the outskirts, chilling, doing it real big."