"Brothas and sistas...The time is now" read a flyer for the February 1995 African American youth town hall meeting in San Jose that was called in response to rising concern within the community over varying issues (see flyer above). Hosted by Davey D (then of KMEL) the town hall meeting, that included city officials and youth speakers, took place at the South Bay city's Emmanuel Baptist Church. The event also featured Bay Area hip-hop artists E-40, JT The Bigga Figga, and Herm Lewis who were invited as guest speakers. At the time of the event, E-40's single "One Luv" had been out a few weeks. The Vallejo gamespitter's anticipated second solo album, that included the lead single, In a Major Way (Sick WId It/Jive) would drop a few weeks later on March 14th, 1995. The sequel to 1993's Federal, the new E-40 album would also feature such standout tracks as the second single "Sprinkle Me" featuring his sister Suga T, and Bay Area rap posse track "Dusted 'n' Disgusted" with 2Pac, Mac Mall, and Spice 1 all making cameos. Meanwhile, JT The Bigga Figga was winding up the recording of his third album, Dwellin' in tha Labb, which he fully produced, that would be released in October of that year on his Get Low Recordz, Priority Records, and Straight Out Tha Labb Entertainment.
Understandably, the imagery alone of bygone Bay Area-published magazine The Booty Crack scared away some potential readers.That minority of readers mistakenly deemed the envelope-pushing magazine as just too plain "ignant" for their tastes. The rapzine's in-your-face editorial style, raw street language, and no-holds barred content was an affront to their sensibilities, and the expectations of what a hip-hop magazine should be.
Simply put, The Booty Crack was unlike any other hip-hop magazine up until that point in time. It was at the beginning of 1994 when San Jose A&R man-turned-publisher Andre Barefield put out the first issue of the controversial but popular, game-changing magazine. At that time there was a wide choice in the ever-growing field of hip-hop publishing. There were many magazines on newsstands and at record stores that covered hip-hop music as well as various aspects of the culture and interrelated topics too (b-boying, graffiti, sports and sneaker fashion, etc.). There were regional zines like The BOMB hip-hop magazine out of San Francisco and The Flavor out of Seattle. Then, of course, there were the more widely distributed national ones like the Source, Rap Pages, and Rap Sheet. The latter's tabloid newspaper style was a format shared by The Booty Crack. But all similarities between The Booty Crack, Rap Sheet, and those other hip-hop magazines ended there.
While most rap writers and hip-hop magazines at the time fawned over their subjects, The Booty Crack talked shit on them and everyone else they covered in their avidly read pages. In fact, The Booty Crack went beyond just music. It was a hip-hop themed but also about the people and the culture surrounding it - and not always the prettiest parts. Pioneering its own brand of confrontational journalism, The Booty Crack was fearless in what it published. Long before the shaming era of the internet age, The Booty Crack was shaming and calling out people publicly in its Buster of the Month and its Nympho Info columns. As a result they landed in many lawsuits with the unhappy subjects of these columns. Naturally, those not targeted in these printed attacks loved reading these exposes about others.
Back in '91 the above promo one sheet was mailed out to rap radio programmers like myself along with the E-40 and The Click promotional record featuring a radio version of E-40's "Mr. Flamboyant" EP. It was the introduction of radio to the "hot rap group" from Vallejo who would enjoy much success in that decade. The promo items were sent by E-40's uncle Saint Charles who, early on in his career, helped him and his family group The Click get their music out via his regional distributor / promotions company SMG (Solar Music Group). And boy did SMG have all areas of promo locked down as clearly outlined by their letterhead that boasted nationwide promotions "on the streets, in the ghettos, at the parties, in the clubs" as well "in the hood" and at college campuses, distributors, and retailers. The company had it lcovered and 40's uncle was instrumental in getting the rapper and Sick Wid' It Records on the map. In this case it was for the 12" pressing that had the radio version of "Mr. Flamboyant" (as distinct from the dirty "street" version of the song found on the cassette release). ["Mr. Flamboyant" also appeared on The Click album Down & Dirty.]
To assist in finding the song, Saint Charles circled the title on the label with a black sharpie pen - just to ensure no one would miss it. Also on the EP were the tracks "Tanji," "Club Hoppin," and "Shut It Down." Released on Sick Wid' It Records the EP was distributed by Rushforce Records who had in 1988 released the pre-Click lineup M.V.P. By the time of this Sick WId' It release E-40 solo and the Click as a group had been releasing records and tapes on Sick Wid' It but soonafter each other member of the family crew would drop solo releases including Forty Wata's (and D-Shot's) sister Suga T who, in March 1993 on Sick Wid' It, would release her solo debut It's All Good.
1) BadBadNotGood & Ghostface Killah Sour Soul (Lex)
2) Fashawn The Ecology (Mass Appeal) [also avail as LP and DL]
3) THEESatisfaction EarthEE (Sub Pop)
4) Big Sean Dark Sky Paradise (Def Jam) [also a deluxe CD]
5) L'Orange After the Flowers (Mello Music)
The brand new number one hip-hop chart entry at Amoeba Music Berkeley this week (thank-you to E-Lit for providing the above top five chart) is the collaborative effort of Wu-Tang member Ghostface Killah and Canadian jazz trio BadBadNotGood for their one-off, full-length, joint project Sour Soul on Lex Records - available for now in CD format only with a soon be released vinyl format to follow. While not billed as such, this new album could be considered the third part of a live collaborative trilogy by Ghostface since like his last two releases - last year's 36 Seasons and 2013's Twelve Reason To Die - Sour Soul is another production that finds the WU emcee rhyming with a live band. This time out it's BadBadNotGood who, as well as their own work as a trio, have previously collaborated with the likes of Danny Brown (who coincidentally appears here) and Earl Sweatshirt - although only on individual tracks, not a full length project as here with Ghostface Killah. The end result is a strong album whose standout tracks include "Mind Playing Tricks," "Tone's Rap," "Gunshowers (feat elZhi)," and “Ray Gun (feat. DOOM)” (see music video below).
For this week's hip-hop history installment, rewind back 23 years to 1992 -- a time when E-40 and The Click's careers were on the verge of blowing up majorly. Below is an audio YouTube clip of a KUSF radio interview I conducted at that time with The Click's four members E-40, B-Legit, D-Shot, and Suga T, and with their producer Studio Ton.
It was before they had gone federal (signed to the national label Jive Records), E-40 had just released his solo album entitled Federal, and when The Click as a group had released the album Down and Dirty care of their game-changing little indie label Sick Wid It Records (both later reissued by Jive Records). It was a time when B Legit was still sometimes known as Legitimate B and when D Shot was sometimes still known as Mac D Shot. As for the group's name, it was also something they changed as they had originally been known as MVP. "Now we're The Click. We needed a spicier name," explains E-40 in the interview. "Back in 87…we was doing local stuff. It is really a family thing," said E-40 at the time.
Even back then, the Bay Area rap icon, who these days is known for tirelessly cranking out triple volume albums on an annual basis, was most prolific having recorded both a group album and a solo album simultaneously. "I was putting in work," he said modestly of his impressively busy recording routine back in '92 but again stressing how even with his solo album that it was "a family thing" with his fellow group members (all related) helping out in some capacity. In fact, all of the immediate Click members as well as the greater Sick Wid It family crew were all very busy back then. Suga T was gearing up to record her debut album, It's All Good, that would drop the following year while extended Sick Wid It crew members Lil Bruce and Rhythm X were all prepping to drop solo joints. And while it was E-40 who would become the best known member of the Click as a group - each of the other three members were talented and historically significant in their own respective rights - Suga T as among the pioneering female rappers of the Bay's history, B-Legit as an incredible wordsmith with a most distinctive flow, and D-Shot was both a strong rapper and among the original wave of Bay Area rap compilation producers (along with Herm Lewis and Master P, who was still living in Richmond in the East Bay).