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The Afros

Fans and collectors of the Beastie Boys and DJ Hurricane, likely have heard of the Hurra’s involvement in releasing The Afros Kickin’ Afrolistics LP (1990). Although it did not go gold (which requires 500,000 copies to be sold), the album did well commercially and proved to the hip hop community that Jam Master Jay (Jason Mizell) had the ability to develop new talent and see a project through to completion. Ronin Ro’s book Raising Hell: The Reign, Ruin, and Redemption of Run D.M.C. and Jam Master Jay gives an excellent account of how the idea for group came together after Hurricane and Jay finished watching the movie “Hollywood Shuffle.” Having more or less created the concept of the Afros, Jay saw to it that the Afros would be featured on the next Run D.M.C song. That song turned out to be “Pause” which was released as the B-side for the song “Ghostbusters’s Rap.” The Afros then went on to appear in the music video for “Pause.”   

Next up for the Afro’s was the release of a 12” single for the song “Feel It”. The video for the song featured an appearance from the then ubiquitous Flavor Flav, who at that time was at the top of his game as the clown prince of hip-hop. When Kickin’ Afrolistics came out in 1990, the Afros went on Howard Stern’s WWOR television show to promote the record’s release. By appearing in their namesake afro wigs, the group provided New York’s beloved shock jock with a solid interview and studio full of hair. Hurricane once said “…we didn’t want to come out and be just any rappers. It would be kind of hard to get attention. We decided to be the Afros, as in Afro-Americans. Afros symbolize black power. We knew the reaction would be ‘oh wow.’” (This quote is from the AP November 7, 1990 article written by Hillel Italie).

Kickin’ Afrolistics’ co-producer Davy D (David Reeves), who is also known by the moniker Davy DMX, is sometimes mentioned as having been a member of The Afros. Whether or not he was a member of the short-lived rap group is open to debate. What is known is that back in 1990, the Afros opened for Public Enemy during the Fear of a Black Planet tour. At that time, the group consisted of Hurricane (Wendell Fite), Cool T (Tadone Hill) and DJ Kippy-O (Kip Morgan). The trio’s stage show got mixed reviews. In an article that ran in the Portland, OR newspaper (The Oregonian August 30th, 1990) the Afros’ performance was described as being a “…mostly misogynist, vulgar, and sometimes funny set.” Although it is difficult to try and nail down who was in the Afros, an excellent Associated Press article about the group (November 7th 1990) did exactly that. In addition to the three core members they also printed the following list which comprised the “Afros Auxiliary”: which included Smith, Doc, Cool E (aka the Dictionary), Jah Easy, Randy, Marvin, Davy D, and Jam Master Jay. At that time, everything was looking up for The Afros and JMJ Records. However, with the record selling and the media/critics embracing the Afros; Jam Master Jay deferred his time away from promoting their record, and put it back into creating Run D.M.C.’s disappointing Back from Hell album.

A second album from the Afros never materialized, but again using a quote from Hurricane it sounded like a follow-up to Kickin’ Afrolistics was already in the works. “I held back a little on this album. First you get their attention, and when you got their support, you just slam’em with everything. The next album we’re gonna slam ‘em” (AP November 7, 1990 article written by Hillel Italie)  One can speculate that some of this “slammin’'” new material may have shown up here and there as rhymes on Hurricane’s 1995 release The Hurra.

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