When I ran into aspiring young Bay Area rap star Yung Nittlz at the recent Showtime @ the Apollo Amateur NIght tryouts at the Oakland Convention Center, he was handing out his self-designed promo item -- an oversized five dollar bill with his image and contact info. What really impressed me is that Yung Nittlz, as his name implies, is young. Very young -- 13 years of age, and already the freshman at Berkeley High School has taught himself to make beats, and has written and recorded two albums worth of music, set up his MySpace, and found time to perfect his computer design skills by designing things such as his Five Dolla Promo item to promote his song "Money In The Air" that he printed out (two-sided) and cut to size at his local Copy Central. (Note: for my full report on the Showtime at the Apollo Oakland tryouts -- previewed in earlier AMOEBLOG -- check out this week's San Francisco Bay Guardian).
When I saw his cool promo item I remembered that the Luniz -- or rather their label Noo Trybe, a division of Virgin -- created a similar promo item upon the release of the Oakland duo's debut album Operation Stackola (which reached stores on July 4, 1995) and its huge hit single "I Got Five On It." But that was a long time ago, when 13 year old Yung Nittlz was a baby -- only age one. It was a time when labels were still making money (as in profits, not promo funny-money), especially rap labels or divisions, and were often extremely creative and experimental in their promo items. Many others (especially Yay Area rappers) have used paper money as promotional material, including the Conscious Daughters for their comeback album (pictured right).