Hip-Hop is full of famous trios from Run DMC to TLC. But do you remember the original fly girls from California, JJ Fad? Maybe you recall them from their infectious first single “Supersonic,” or for those younger radio listeners, Fergie’s 2006 hit “Fergalicious,” which sampled the group’s hook. An old-school mix must, JJ Fad was one of the first all-female hip-hop groups to hit the mainstream. Just as Salt-N-Pepa did, JJ Fad opened the door for women to express themselves on all topics, whether it be in music or any other arena. For my very first column with M.I.S.S., I’m going to take you back to doorknockers and Aquanet locks with the group that first peaked my interest in female MCs.
As sung in the “Supersonic” intro, the group’s name is short for “Just Jammin’ – Fresh and Def.” But according to some info in circulation around the internet, they started off with 5 ladies in the group, and their name was an acronym for all of the original members: Juanita, Juana, Fatima, Lady Anna, and Dania. Little is known about what happened to make it a company of three. Nonetheless, JJ Fad was signed to Eric “Eazy E” Wright’s newly formed Ruthless Records in 1987. Comprised of MC JB (Juana Burns), Baby-D (Dania Birks), and Sassy C (Michelle Franklin), the group proved they could most certainly play with the big boys. They produced their first album with Dr. Dre, DJ Yella, and Arabian Prince just before N.W.A. propelled into notoriety with Straight Outta Compton. Opting for more pop-sounding records than their label mates, JJ Fad released their first album, Supersonic, selling 400,000 copies almost immediately. Their single “Supersonic” is what they are best known for, eventually earning them a platinum record and Grammy Nomination, the first for any female rap group.
Though they may be seen as cute and bubbly, make no mistake: JJ Fad had a tough side. As many West Coast MCs did in the late 80s, they became involved in what’s known in hip-hop circles as the Roxane Wars. They produced the 1987 Roxane Shante-targeted dis track “Another Ho” (sometimes named “Another Tramp”), which was actually the first song they ever released. Hip-hop fans know that the music is never short of friendly competition, and JJ Fad was no exception. After the dust settled with the Roxane Wars, they were featured in the West Coast All Stars anti-violence record We’re All in the Same Gang in 1990.
Mainly using techno samples and sing-a-long melodies, their repertoire contains other party singles such as “We In the House,” “Way Out,” and “Blame It On the Muzick.” JJ Fad had the attitude and personality to match any MC of the time, but they had a softer side as well. Their album Not Just a Fad had the ballad “Is It Love,” a sort of love letter to a boyfriend à la LL Cool J’s “I Need Love.” Often confused with Le Tigre and Salt-N-Pepa, JJ Fad had a hard time matching the success of Supersonic with 1991’s Not Just A Fad, separating shortly after the release.
Propelling back into musical consciousness with the aforementioned Fergalicious, JJ Fad received an ASCAP award for co-writing the single and began touring briefly in 2009. Search their name on Twitter, and you’ll see countless fans reminiscing about the times they bumped JJ Fad. They will forever be celebrated for their undeniably catchy rhymes. When it comes to 80s dance-mix staples, they’ll always be remembered as the “home chicks that are rockin’ your world.”