The Beatnuts are a New York-based hip hop group and production duo from Queens, New York City. Its current members are JuJu and Psycho Les. JuJu is a Dominican from Corona and Psycho Les is a Colombian from Jackson Heights. The Beatnuts are the only Latino members of the Native Tongues Family. Although only peripheral members, they are routinely acknowledged by Q-Tip, who has shouted them out at least twice on record (once in 1991 and once in 1996). The Beatnuts were originally a trio before Kool Fashion, now known as Al' Tariq, left the group to start a solo career. The Mighty V.I.C. (Groove Merchantz, Ghetto Pros) was also a member of the Beatnuts' production team for a while.
Both Junkyard Juju and Psycho Les grew up in different communities in Queens, New York. Psycho Les started producing beats and DJing at age 15 under aliases including DJ Les Jams and DJ Incredible. At a high school in Flushing, Queens, a friend DJ Loco Moe introduced Les to fellow producer Juju. While crate digging, both Beatnuts ran into hip hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa. Bambaataa introduced them to fellow Native Tongues including De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest and the Jungle Brothers. At this time, Juju and Psycho Les were DJing parties under the alias Beat Kings. The Jungle Brothers claimed that they were not kings, but rather two nuts for their comical nature. They thus changed their name and "it stuck." The two Beatnuts members later met up with rapper Kool Fashion.
Early production work
The Beatnuts entered the recording industry in 1990 producing two tracks for the electronica group Stereo MCs. Over the next two years, they produced songs for rappers including Common, Pete Nice & DJ Richie Rich and Kurious, as well as a full album for Chi-Ali. As of 1992, Juju had not appeared on a record, but fellow Beatnuts rappers Fashion and Psycho Les appeared on tracks that he produced. In 1993, The Beatnuts produced more songs for the artists they had previously collaborated with as well as Fat Joe, Supreme NTM and Da Youngsta's. At the same time, The Beatnuts made their name as remix specialists by remixing songs for MC Lyte, Da Lench Mob, Naughty by Nature, Jomanda and others.
The Beatnuts' early production work earned them a record deal with Combat Records in 1992. The Beatnuts planned on releasing a "mini-LP" through that label, but its release was delayed when Kool Fashion was sentenced to six months of jail for drug convictions (p. 31). After Fashion completed his sentence, The Beatnuts left Combat Records and signed deals with Violator Management and Relativity Records. On , 1993, The Beatnuts released their debut album, Intoxicated Demons: The EP, though their new labels. It featured 11 songs, including the two singles "Reign of the Tec" and "No Equal." The album was characterized by its hedonistic party-style lyrics and sample-heavy jazz beats. It was a critical success receiving favorable reviews by Allmusic, The Source and Entertainment Weekly.
Intoxicated Demons was followed in 1994 with the eponymous full length album The Beatnuts: Street Level. Street Level followed its preceding EP in style, but slightly surpassed its commercial success by charting on the Billboard 200. It featured two singles, "Props Over Here" and "Hit Me with That," neither of which were commercial hits. Street Level was the last Beatnuts album released before Fashion left the group to become a devout Muslim and solo artist under the alias Al' Tariq. He left The Beatnuts on good terms and collaborated with his former group on future albums.
The Beatnuts did not follow up their 1994 album until releasing Stone Crazy in 1997. Although it contained "Off the Books", a single that charted on the Billboard Hot 100 and featured the first on-record performance by Big Pun, the album was not a critical success. Leo Stanley of Allmusic attributed its mediocre reception to its lack of energy--not its "jazz-inflected rhythms and hardcore rhyming". Chris Ryan of Rolling Stone conceded that the album was still "something of a breakthrough" for the Beatnuts in spite of itself. Two weeks after the release of Stone Crazy, The Beatnuts released Hydra Beats, Vol. 5, a small-scale instrumental album. Vol. 5 was one album in a series of vinyl instrumental albums released by underground label Hydra Entertainment.
1998 saw the release of The Spot, a remix EP that revamped songs from the first three non-instrumental Beatnuts albums. It additionally featured sequels to older Beatnuts tracks and one new song, "Treat$". It was released in anticipation of 1999's A Musical Massacre, The Beatnuts' most commercially and critically successful album. A Musical Massacre reached #35 on the Billboard 200 due to its hit single "Watch Out Now". The album is hailed for its "eclectic" and "textured" beats as well as its "rough, rugged, and raunchy" lyrics with slightly more content variation than past releases.
After Sony released The Beatnuts's first hits compilation, 1999's World Famous Classics, The Beatnuts did not record another album until 2001's Take It or Squeeze It. Their 2001 album contained two slightly popular singles, "No Escapin' This" and "Let's Git Doe," but was unable to match the commercial or critical success of A Musical Massacre. Reviews by both Allmusic and Rolling Stone claimed that Take It or Squeeze It had a mix of inventive production and cliched gangster rhymes.
Return to underground
The Beatnuts' official logo. It is inspired by a similar symbol on the cover art of Hank Mobley's Turnaround.
In November 2001, it was announced that Loud Records
All Beatnuts lyrics
- Are You Ready
- Back 2 Back
- Beatnuts Forever
- Buying Out The Bar
- Do You Believe
- Engineer Talking Shit
- Find That
- Fried Chicken
- Get Funky
- Give Me The Ass
- Hammer Time
- Hit Me With That
- However Whenever
- I Love It
- If It Ain't Gangsta
- Let Off A Couple
- Let's Git Doe (feat. Fatman Scoop)
- Lick The Pussy
- Look Around
- Look Around - Feat. Dead Prez And Cheryl Pepsi Riley
- Muchachacha (feat. Willie Stubz, Swinger)
- My Music
- Niggas Know
- No Equal
- No Escapin' This
- Off The Books
- Prendelo (Light It Up)
- Props Over Here
- Psycho Dwarf
- Quality & The Bushmen Off The Top
- Quality The Bushmen Off The Top
- Reign Of The Tec
- Rik's Joint
- R.U. Ready II
- Se Acabo
- Slam Pit - Feat. Cuban Link And Common
- Slam Pit (feat. Cuban Link, Common)
- Stone Crazy
- Story 2000 - Feat. Patrick Blazy
- Straight Jacket
- Supa Supreme
All lyrics are property of their respective owners and are strictly for non-commercial use only.