The Origin of Jugghead

The Origin of Jugghead

If you’ve spent any time with me or on this site, you’ll know that I dabble in music. I was fully immersed in the rap game from the mid 80’s until about 2001. I took a break from it for a few years, but after I got married, I started rhyming and producing again. If you visit my Jugghead site, you can listen to a bunch ofmy music, and download a few albums for free.

Many people have asked me why I gave myself the stagename “Jugghead.”

And the answer is a loooong one.

My first rhymes were said waaaaaay back in 1986. My and my Buddy Ed were playing on his brand new Vetrex (wow), when his older sister Ebony (Who I thought was fine as heck but I couldn’t holler at her ’cause she was 16 and I was 11) came in bouncing a mixtape featuring some guy named Doug E. Fresh. Me and Ed was feeling it so hard, we put the video game aside, picked up his old Casio keyboard with the wack preprogrammed beats, and started dropping rhymes as “Eazy E and DDT.” I was DDT because that’s the signature I use whenever I get the high score on video games. We did about three wack songs that night, but our interest in being the next great MC’s lasted about as long as our attention spans, which suffice to say weren’t that long. By the end of the night we were watching Leave it to Beaver reruns (like you didn’t. don’t front) and playing with Transformers without one single thought about getting into the rap game.

I didn’t get serious about rapping until 1989, when I First heard the D.O.C. That album is basically what sparked me to want to be an MC. It was listening to “The Grand Finale” that I wrote my first ever real rap song, “No Mars” which was a battle rap. I liked what I wrote so much I followed it up with a few other songs: “Just a Decent Guy,” “Somebody Cut The Cheeze,” and “I am The Law.” If you think those titles are corny, the actual lyrics were worse. Back then I didn’t have the nerve to actually say any of the songs I was rapping, so I just wrote. I didn’t even have a stagename.

I moved to a new neighborhood in 1990, and met up with Proffessor Crookyd (Back then he was called “Kid Vicious” I kid you not.) we got bored one day and thought, “Hey, why don’t we start a rap group?” My Moms was a professional songwriter, and had a small studio in our basement that she used. She was happy to see me take an interest in the “family business” (My dad was a bass player in a group that featured Babyface and members of Midnight Star before he married my moms) so she let us use her equipment, just so long as we didn’t break anything. We got a couple of the other boys in the neighborhood and formed “Tha Master Assassinz,” and I was MC Will, co-group leader and the producer of the group (it was my studio, so naturally I made all the beats). We did a few freestyle songs, and PC actually got me to perform those dumb songs I wrote way back, but it was nothing really serious.

That changed when my Moms got us a performance at a summer talent show on the southside of Flint. We decided that the “Master Assassinz” thing wasn’t cool enough, So we needed a new gimmick. We became “Codename I.C.E.” (No, the I.C.E. didn’t really stand for anything) after all the rappers who had ice in their names at the time (ice Cube, Ice T, Smooth Ice, Ice Cream Tee, Mixmaster Ice, you get the idea). We all had to have an ice-related name: We had R-Tek Ice, DJ Ice, The Snowman, PC was Cold Ice and I was Chilled Ice (although by the time we did the show I was Crush Ice). The performance went pretty well, to the point where we thought we could actually be a successful rap group. We were always rehearsing, and in the studio working on new demo material. since hip-hop was transitioning from the political stuff to the Gangsta stuff, our gimmick was that we were “hip-hop terrorists.” Don’t ask where we got it from. By the end of our first summer we had finished our first demo “The Debut,” which I still have a copy of somewhere, actually. I then did a solo joint (which I lost) called “Tha Monstaman,” where I tried SO hard to be the next Chuck D (but then again, who Didn’t? Everybody wanted to be the next Chuck D back then).

When High School started, the pro-black, conscious stuff was officially passé, so PC suggested we change our name and image. Now we were gangsta rappas, and our group name was ADG, for “All Day Gangstas” (Of course, ADG was also PC’s initials: Anthony Deshay Gray. Coincidence?) I changed my name appropriately to “Gangsta De” Don’t ask me where that came from. We QUICKLY changed to something else. We evolved with hip-hop, and around the time Tribe, De La and Digital Underground all dropped their second albums, we became a more laid-back, stylin’ and profilin’ hip-hop group. “S.T.Y.L.E.” was our name, for “Steppin’ To You Like Enemies.” Crook became Shay-D, and I started off as Furious Styles (yep, just like THAT Furious Styles), but after seeing the movie “FX” I changed it to Furious X. I could still do my pro-black shtick (having the X in my name), but then I could abbreviate my name to F/X and be the producer behind the scenes (Clever, huh?) S.T.Y.L.E. only lasted one demo before our members started pursuing other interests (namely, girls), but as Furious X I managed to do about 4 solo albums (“Save the Drama for Your Mama,” “Mind Games: The Next Step,” “Army of One” and “Also Known as Peasy”) before The fam came on hard times, and Moms had to pawn off all her studio equipment. (AND sell the pawn tickets. what chall know about that kind of struggle? WHAT!!!)

Now, I’ve known Hookdiggy, Waxo and Devastator for EVER, but I didn’t find out until high school that Will and Jon were doing the hip-hop thing. After we traded demos and stuff, and I told Hook about my non-studio dilemma, he recommended I get at Wax and see about laying some tracks with him. Jon was happy to do some stuff, and by graduation day I had recorded three more basement albums (“Return of the Pease,” Pease Plus: the remix album” and “Peasyman: Nuff Said.” Notice a theme?). After a while, I introduced PC to Wax and they started doing stuff. Yes, many of these songs were over other, more established artists’ music, and yes, we gave away these albums for free? You now what that means? That means we were doing the “free album/mixtape” thing approximately 25 years before it was cool. Respect.

Junior year, Crook and I formed a two man group called QnA (Quan and Anthony. Get it? CLEVER! CLEVER!!!), and he had us recording our demo “S.T.Y.L.E.” at his studio. I had gotten rid of “F/X’ and changed my name to “Peasyman,” after a nickname I earned in high school for my perpetually nappy hair. All of our peeps guest starred on it: this led to Hookdiggy and I doing our first collabo track together (“Nuthin Kan Sayve Ya”) and to us meeting Don Dada, who is related to PC and had also started recording there. Crook and I decided to go our separate ways for good after that, mainly because he wanted to take his music in one direction, and I wanted to go another way. but at the time Dev had starting rapping, so the four of us decided to form our own “supergroup” called Menace 2 Society. Then that *&@$&#$% Movie came out, and every rap group under the sun started calling themselves Menace To Society. so we just abbreviated our name to M2S and told folks that it didn’t stand for anything. We did our first basement demo “Strait Frum Tha L” and I swear we were the biggest psychopathic hardcore gangster killers in the world. We must have killed the entire population of Detroit on that album. Twice.

With that out of our system, we mellowed our sound out a bit (okay, a LOT) and around the time we went to college, we got really serious about getting our music heard. I had also decided that “Peasyman” was WAAAAY too corny a name to be up in the industry with (If I had known the industry would see such clever names as Juvenile, Magoo, Silkk Da Shocka, Trick Daddy and Lil Boosie, I would have reconsidered.) So I was about to call myself “Juggernaut,” when surprise, surprise, somebody else dropped an album going by that name. so I took the “jugg” and added “head”, and my current stagename was born.

what’s in a name? I have no idea what in the world possessed me to call myself “Jugghead.” Honestly. I tried to put some meaning behind the name, like saying my flow and style is laid back like the Jughead in Archie comics, or even going the abbreviation route like “Jesters Underestimate the Greatness of God, but He’ll Eventually Ascend from Darkness.” but nothing’s sticking. So eff it. I called myself Jugghead because it seemed like a freaking good idea at the time, which is pretty much why I do everything I do.

Next, whenever I get around to volume two, I’ll discuss the “Phalanx” years. If anybody wants the movie rights, holla.

The New Breed

I admit it: I’m an old fuddy-duddy when it comes to music. I have become the guy I hated when I was a teenager: the one who hated the new music and swore that his music from his time was better than the new crap that is popular today. And for the most part that still holds true. I stopped truly paying attention to new rap artists after 2005, mainly because the stuff I had been hearing either on the radio or in the streets has been so bland and disappointing.

But recently I’ve had reason to rethink my position. I still think the vast majority of today’s hip-hop is crap, but I have to acknowledge that there are a few artists in this new generation of MC that interest me. And in my opinion, they’re all pretty darned good at rocking the mic.

So here is my informal, unofficial top ten list in no particular order (except for the #1 guy) of rappers who debuted post-2005 that I’m into. This is not an all-encompassing list, as I might (and probably will) stumble across some new MCs in the future that I want to follow (I’m looking at you, Sammus and Wordburglar), but these are the top guys on my list right now.

  1. Random. When you hear the phrase “Stay humble, stay hungry,” you don’t think that applies to most music stars. This has been the epitome of Mega Ran’s character. This is the reason why he is atop my list of “new” MCs that I follow. The fact that despite his status as a rising star in indie hip-hop, he makes himself VERY accessible to his fans. I feel less like a fan and more like a colleague and a peer: he has been a FB friend of mine (under his government name, no less) for the past 2 years, and I correspond with him regularly like I do with my closet and most trusted friends. I even sent him a link to my latest rap album (you can download it for free at http://jugghead.bandcamp.com/album/chapter-2), and he said he liked it. In addition to being a great MC, he also comes off as a likable PERSON, and that’s more important.
    on top of that, he has redefined the game for indie rap artists, proven that rappers can be successful and build careers for themselves by giving out free music, and has become one of the faces and poster children for Nerdcore. He is a master wordsmith, and quite frankly NOBODY is better at putting together a concept album. It’s basically his calling card.
    Every time he releases something new, I’m putting it on my “must grab” list. His song “Doubt Me” is one of my morning anthems to get me ready for my day. And at every opportunity I’m telling people about this guy and even sharing some of my favorite Mega Ran songs with them.
  2. Kendrick Lamar. For the longest time I was trying not to buy into K-Dot’s hype. The whole “New King Of The West” talk must have been hyperbole, right? After all, they said the same thing about Game and we saw how well that panned out. But when one of my kids finally convinced me to give the guy a shot, and I heard of the Grammy nomination, I had to dig deeper into his style. After peeping “Good Kid, mAAdCity” – and looking up the lyrics, I am firmly in the K. Lamar camp. The boy is The Truth.
  3. Childish Gambino. I don’t watch a lot of Television, and I don’t really try to get into this new breed of rapper, so in pretty much every way conceivable I slept on the work of Mr. Donald Glover. But then I hear via the blogvines about how great this “Because The Internet” album is, and I decide to give him a chance via his “Royalty” free album (I refuse to call it a mixtape). To say I was blown away would be an understatement. The dude’s use of wit and clever wordplay coupled with his Gift of Gab-like willingness to change styles and deliveries – oftentimes in midverse – along with his thoughtfulness and honesty, and you get a nice combination of talent. Oh yeah, dude also can sing and he makes his own beats. I finally checked out BTI –mainly because I’m a sucker for a concept album –  and I recommend it to everybody. Finally, unlike 99% of he MCs who claim to be rich, Bino actually has the numbers to back up his boasts. He was a superstar entertainer long before he picked up a mic.
  4. OMG. Ice cube’s youngest son carries his father’s legacy well. He has a voice similar to Cube’s and he has the same amount of confidence on the mic that Cube had, too. He claim’s his dad’s Lench Mob crew and works with Lench Mob member DJ Crazy Tunes? Bonus. I wish he’d deliver a little more social commentary like his father did, but even if he doesn’t, I like him the way he is.
  5. Yelawolf. I didn’t know anything About Yeller until I heard he got signed along with Slaughterhouse to Shady Records. I checked him out on Youtube and was immediately a fan. He has a very unique voice and delivery style, and while everybody nowadays is rapping double-time, few can do it with a style that doesn’t sound carbon copied from other rappers. Yelawolf is one of those few.
  6. Lecrae. Being a Christian fan of hip-hop, I’m actually a bit ashamed that I don’t support Christian Hip-Hop more. Aside from the likes of Da TRUTH and T-Bone, I really couldn’t tell you anything about Christ Rap. Lecrae’s mixtapes really opened my eyes to what could be done with that medium and that message. Dude is honest and insightful, without delving into a lot of the tired clichés that you hear from a lot of gospel rappers.
  7. Jon Connor. I’m not just putting him on this list because he’s from my hometown. Jon is a talented MC who actually knows a few people I’m connected to. He’s a pure MC with awesome punchlines, and a unique story to tell, which is actually a consistent theme among the new rappers I like.
  8. Big Sean. This is another local flavor, as Big Sean hails from Detroit. He’s another one I ignored “just because he’s new,” but like some of the other guys on the list, I gave him a try on his “Detroit” free album, and I was impressed. And his single “Beware” was flat out brilliant. The guy is a very polished lyricist and performer, and has a style similar to Drake’s without copying. I actually think he’s proven himself more clever.
  9. Wale & Big KRITT. The Roots endorsed these two. That’s good enough for me.

 

When you get a chance, check these guys out. I think you’ll like them as  much as I do.