2 Skinnee J's More 'Grown Up' After Two-Year Album Delay

Label collapse sends party-rap group into reevaluation mode.

2 Skinnee J's have waited nearly two years for their latest album to hit the shelves, so rapper Special J is just happy to have a copy in his hands. Well, not that happy.

"You know, you have a choice of thicknesses in the plastic of the actual CD, and I think they got us the cheapest one," Special J complained Friday, four days after the release of Volumizer.

Jokes aside — which is a challenge with these Brooklyn-bred party starters — 2 Skinnee J's are excited to finally have their second full-length record in the hands of their fans. While it was scheduled to drop in the fall of 2000 and advance copies received positive reviews, Capricorn Records collapsed shortly before the release date and left Special J, vocalist J. Guevara, guitarist Lance Corporal, bassist Eddie Eyeball, keyboardist Stevie Spice and spiritual advisor A.J. Stumpy Johnson searching for a new label.

The group recently signed with the Jive Records subsidiary Volcano, which Special J said gives them more perks than you can imagine. "Some of the guys have gotten 'NSYNC tickets," he joked.

Again, seriously (see, it is challenging), 2 Skinnee J's are at least intrigued about their record deal. "Our old label, the reason they liked us was because we played across the country and had a huge following of fans," Special J said. "Our new label that handles Britney Spears and 'NSYNC, they don't care about our 100,000 fans. They're much more focused on different marketing strategies."

Marketing 2 Skinnee J's is not easy, however, as there is no easy way to describe the band. Volumizer, even more than 1998's SuperMercado, is massively diverse, mixing elements of hip-hop, rock, new wave and disco into the kind of grab-bag music fans haven't heard since the Beastie Boys' Hello Nasty.

Although it lacks two songs from the original version Capricorn released to reviewers, including the Weezer-like single "Stockholm Love" (see "2 Skinnee J's Take Couch Trip For "Stockholm Love"), the final version of Volumizer is still impeccably ear-friendly. That explains why influential radio stations like Chicago's Q101 jumped on the new single, "Grown Up," weeks before its official add date.

"It's kind of a '60s garagey sort of song," Special J said of "Grown Up," one of three songs later added to the original version. "It's about being in a band and watching your friends grow up around you and you still have the same responsibilities. You watch them get houses and children and stuff. The lament of growing older and all that it entails, good and bad."

Similar messages can be found on other Volumizer songs. You could almost call it a coming-of-age record, with "Lost and Found" — about "the period between adulthood and youth where you haven't decided what you're going to be, but you know that you can't be what you are," according to Special J — being the centerpiece.

"Other than the songs [where] we brag and say we're the toughest crew on the planet, you could say that," Special J said, joking before offering a serious sentiment (again!). "It's unavoidable that the music reflects your life experiences. And life, unfortunately, becomes less of a party."

Of course, the group's sense of humor still shines through on Volumizer. "Brew Ha Ha!" boasts comical lines such as "He's going nuts like cashew," but the new "Lemon Drop" is the kicker.

"It's about the mistake a girl made by dating a guy in a rock band and doing something that he didn't like, hence giving him the ability to throw her name across the country and show everybody what we want people to think she is," Special J said. "Which, of course, is exactly how she is."

2 Skinnee J's also chose to showcase their humorous side for the video to "Grown Up," which they shot recently in Los Angeles. Comedian Andy Dick directed and starred in the clip, which is based on "Gumnaam," a 1965 movie that was excerpted in the opening credits to last year's "Ghost World."

"There's these Indian movies from Bollywood, and they have extravagant dance numbers in them. They're ridiculously over the top," Special J explained. "So we based it on that. Andy Dick is in drag. It's funny and pretty. There's no real story, other than dancing."

2 Skinnee J's tour dates, according to their management:

  • 3/26 - Wilmington, NC @ Marrz Theatre

  • 3/27 - Hilton Head Island, SC @ Blue Nite Cafe

  • 3/28 - Winston-Salem, NC @ Ziggy's

  • 3/29 - Radford, VA @ Radford University (w/ Ludacris)

  • 3/30 - Richmond, VA @ Canal Club

  • 4/1 - Greenville, SC @ The Handlebar

  • 4/3 - Raleigh, NC @ Lincoln Theatre

  • 4/4 - Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club

  • 4/5 - Columbia, SC @ 3 Rivers Music Festival

  • 4/6 - Charlotte, NC @ Tremont Music Hall

  • 4/7 - Charleston, SC @ Music Farm

  • 4/13 - Baltimore, MD @ Goucher College

  • 4/23 - Pelham, AL @ Oak Mountain Amphitheater

  • 5/11 - Rochester, NY @ Institute of Technology