Charizma & Peanut Butter Wolf Big Shots

[Stones Throw; 2003]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles:  hip-hop
Others: Brand Nubian, Gang Starr, Souls of Mischief

Ten years in the making, Charizma & Peanut Butter Wolf's full-length album finally gets a chance to bring any hip-hop fan back to the days when hip-hop finally received its first hard earned dues and respect. Back between 1991 and 1993, PB Wolf got together with a young, up-and-coming emcee to record an album with soulful convictions and jazzy undertones. The album was set for release in '93, but never saw the light of day. The reason: Charizma, the fresh, young emcee rapping on the record, died prior to the intended release date, shelving the project without any future prospect. Ten years later, after the success of PB Wolf's Stones Throw Records label, Big Shots is finally released.

Big Shots is truly a period record. At the forefront of the record is a pioneering emcee delivery that summons comparisons to emcees such as Nice & Smooth, Guru, or Treach from Naughty By Nature. After one spin, I was brought back to a time when hip-hop was intertwined with the jazz sonic of A Tribe Called Quest, the west coast vibe of Del & Souls of Mischief, the smooth and persuasive samples of DJ Premier of Gang Starr, and the charismatic and charming soul of De La Soul. It conjures images of the old days of hip-hop, when making music was at the forefront of the genre. Too many emcees nowadays are trapped between hip-hop and commercial acceptance.

But if Big Shots would have been released in 1993, back when the market was flooded with so many substantial and remarkable hip-hop records, the record would probably not have received the complimentary feedback that it's getting today. Hip-hop back then was just starting its mutation into the present-day monster that it is, and, like so many others (Brand Nubian, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul), Charizma would have likely been lost in the shuffle.

Consequently, Big Shots is a perfect retrospect in music when hip-hop records were hip-hop records, nothing else. The album signifies an era that has long been forgotten by many who don't recall or respect that particular time period. We certainly hoped that Charizma's short career could have been successful and triumphant (especially with Peanut Butter Wolf producing), but all that comes to mind is the fate that such renowned artists like Charizma have been forced to tolerate. Let's just be thankful that Charizma's chance to showcase his talent has finally come, even if it was ten years later.

1. Here's A Smirk
2. Methods
3. Jack The Mack
4. Talk About A Girl
5. Red Light Green Light
6. Tell You Something
7. Gatha Round
8. Devotion
9. Apple Juice Break
10. My World Premier
11. Ice Cream Truck
12. Charizma What
13. Fair Weathered Friend
14. Soon To Be Large
15. Pacin' The Floor