2 Skinnee J's: All "Grown Up" Now

If you haven't been reading the Whim album picks for the past few weeks, haven't seen the walls of my room, or have never heard me blasting the same cd over and over again in whichever car I'm in, then you wouldn't know that I'm a huge 2 Skinnee J's fan.  This is a band that canšt be described in words, only in live shows and flashy costumes. America has some new rap/rock superheroes and I've been so lucky to have seen them eight times in the past year, dating back to the 9/27/01 show at Top of the Stairs (Blacksburg, VA).  Last year at the Spring Concert, while everyone was anxiously waiting for Ludacris to hit the Dedmon Center stage, I was having the time of my life with 2 Skinnee J's, the opening act of the concert playing. A group of "Luda" fans that I was standing next to (of course in the front row) had never heard of the J's before and asked me to tell them a little bit more about them.  I gave them the breakdown and never realized how much 2 Skinnee J's have grown up in their 11-year existence.

The 2 Skinnee J's story starts in Brooklyn, New York, in the year of 1991. In the beginning, there were nine guys that made up 2 Skinnee J's and only two of them, Special J (vocals) and Eddie Eyeball (bass), are still around today out of that bunch.  The J's gathered up every dollar they could to record "6 Songs for 5 Bucks," their first cassette demo.  To go along with their demo, the J's tried to get themselves any gig they could.  And just like any other band trying to meet success, the J's faced a difficult decision in leaving their jobs, schools, and girlfriends, or quitting the band.

Soon enough the J's recorded their second self-released EP, with this one being tagged "American Heroes."  Steve Spice (keyboard) was added to the lineup, and the J's finally got some direction under their new fearless leader, AJ "Stumpy" Johnson.  Stumpy made a few changes to the Skinnee roster, including adding J. Guevara (vocals).  With this lineup, the J's recorded "Return of the New and Improved."

The J's were finally getting their name out to the music industry and the band was soon cut down even more with a few other J members getting the boot.  A. Mays took over guitar duties and completed the lineup used for the next two albums, "Sing, Earthboy, Sing" and "Supermercado."  After the release of "Supermercado," A. Mays was replaced by Lance Corporal (guitar) and long-time original Skinnee drummer, Andy Action, was fired.

"Supermercado" happened to be a big step up for the J's, with the track 'Riot Nrrrd' highlighting the album and even having a music video made of it. They even got to tour with Sugar Ray and Everlast.

Since "Supermercado" the J's added Mikey B (drums) to the lineup and have held the same members since.  In 2000, the J's were awaiting their album release for "Volumizer" but their label, Capricorn Records, flopped right before the release and the J's were left searching for a new label.  

"As for the delayed album, that was just bad luck," Paul Jobson, a 2SJ fan of 6 years explains. "Capricorn screwed them over by not telling them they were going bankrupt.  They may have taken some punches, but they keep on going."

In the meantime, the J's continued touring, writing new songs, and signed with Volcano (a branch of Jive Records).  The album was finally released in the spring of 2002.  "Grown Up," the Skinneešs first single off of the album, has attracted many fans to 2 Skinnee J's including MTV's Carson Daly, who had the track on his Summer Sampler cd.  Even though it's a different style then most of the other J songs, it received great reviews from music critics and was played a lot on radio stations across the country.  'Grown Up' happened to be their second video, with Andy Dick directing and even dressing as a drag queen.  Talk about Must See TV.

With all said and done, what most fans have a tough time doing is describing the style of music 2 Skinnee J's play.  

"It's hard because they really have their own style," Zak Santucci, of Silver Spring, MD comments. "A lot of people would put them in that metal-rap category, though.  But I think they're just musically better and also have a little more hip-hop influence.  They're actually one of the only true rap "bands."

Santucci, a 2SJ fan for 4 years now, claims after his first Skinnee show at the 9:30 club he's "been in love ever since."

"I've got two t-shirts, three cds, a poster, every single one of their autographs (twice), I got my chucks signed, I've got some pictures, and I've met all of them after concerts.  But the most important memorabilia is the fun I've had and the experience I got," Santucci says.  

Jobson, the webmaster at www.earthboy.net/2sj and also operates the official 2SJ message board, has been to many J's shows and has hung out backstage a few times, remembers one event that he still laughs at today.

"A couple summers ago I brought about 5 or so of my friends who had never heard 2SJ's music before in their life to one of their shows. We ended up having to pay $15 each at the door to get in and we were underage, so none of us even drank. By the end of the show, all 5 of my friends were absolutely in love with the J's and had the greatest time at the show. The J's give 110% of themselves at every show; they're just out to give the fans a great show."

The band is most well known for their live performances. Known for being a party animal version of the defunct Rage Against Machine, 2SJ usually doesn't send displeased fans home after a show.

"I love every one of the studio version of their songs, except all the live versions are just as good if not better," Santucci states.  "2 Skinnee J's will just totally rock and get you pumped up, but they also have a great sense of humor about themselves and just goof off up there."

Onstage the J's have been known for wearing bunny suits, red jumpsuits with lighting bolts, and, just recently, tiger shirts.  Off the stage, many reporters seem to have a tough time concentrating while interviewing the J's because of their heavy sense of humor.

Despite their humorous ways, the Skinnee crew has really grown up over their 11 years in existence and look to grow even more popular.  With "Volumizer" still selling, a new array of t-shirts and posters out, and a long list of tours (especially in this area), the J's are looking to put all their troubles and success of the past behind and continuing to do what they do best: rock.

"I would have to say, a 2SJ show is seriously one of the best experiences ever.  I've seen them four times and wouldn't mind if it was the same show over and over again, except that each one is uniquely different and great."

I couldn't argue with that.

Name: Doug
Year: sophomore
Major: media studies
Comments:
Hey everyone,
Thanks for the great comments. I recently talked to 2 Skinnee J's bassist Eddie Eyeball about a few various topics and here is what he had to say...

1. Has the new album "Volumizer" been getting good feedback? If you don't mind revealing, how many copies have you sold?

Eddie: Well, everyone we thanked in the liner notes gave us a fabulous response, but that was to be expected, and obviously the fans loved it. As far as critics go, it's been mostly positive, but truthfully, it's the trashy ones that I like reading. For example, one reviewer wrote, "VOLUMIZER isn't just awful, it's absolutely soulless." Wow! With respect to record sales, counting friends and family we've sold at least 14 copies of "VOLUMIZER" which puts us about 2 million copies away from going double-platinum. Sales are a tricky thing. It would be nice to sell truckloads of records so I could finally afford solid gold underoos, but what does it mean to sell a lot of records these days?

2. 2 Skinnee J's is the kind of band that if you are walking along at a concert and take a glance over at 2SJ you'll stop and be amazed at how much energy you guys have jumping all over the stage. What is it like to have that kind of energy of playing in front of tons of your fans?

Eddie: Being paid in cocaine before the performance obviously helps...but in our case that never actually happens. Recently we played a biker rally in Daytona, Florida, at an outdoor show, right on the rally strip. Needless to say, it was an odd booking; rowdy bad ass bikers in black leather everywhere and us skinny guys in our colorful stagewear. Even the promoter (whose idea it was to book us) was a bit anxious about the possible negative reaction we might receive. "If they start throwing bottles, I say duck and run," was his advice. But as soon as we hit the stage and the audience saw how much energy we were putting into the performance, they loved it. After the show big burly dudes were slapping their huge paws on us and saying what a great show it was.

3. Many fans have a tough time with describing the kind of music you guys play. In what words would you describe your style of music?

Eddie: In simplest terms, we're a live band that deftly mixes rap and rock without the backwards red baseball hat thing (translation: great beats and rhymes but no metal). Sort of like the bastard child of Devo and Public Enemy. You know, girls dance to it and guys bob their head. I like to think of 2SJ as the perfect concert to celebrate youthful exuberance, and what I mean by that is, there's a good chance you'll hook up at the show.

4. By looking at your schedule, it's come across to me that you guys have been playing up and down the east coast (especially in the DC/MD/VA area) a lot lately. Can you comment on what you think of playing in this area (esp VA)?

Eddie: Some people may be surprised to hear this but the east coast has a healthy live music scene, particularly in the southeast. The midwest rocks, too, but it's a bit of a drive. For a long time we ignored going west because quite frankly our Big Green Bus couldn't make it over the Rockies. The BGB (RIP 2000) would break down every other day on tour; it was very tempermental like that. You know, it's strange...most "country" folk tell me they're afraid of the "big city", saying how dangerous it is. Honestly, this city boy is afraid of the country. It's like every other week another kid falls and gets trapped in a well. Then you got your hill-people (like in "Deliverance") hiding about, tornadoes, runaway trains, stampedes...

5. "Volumizer" has finally been released, "Grown Up" was featured on various radio stations during this summer, you guys have been touring a lot this summer, so what's next for 2 Skinnee J's? (...A new cd? A new video/single? Traveling somewhere? More Touring? Coming back here soon?)

Eddie: We'll be touring behind "VOLUMIZER" for the rest of this year (check 2SJ.com for tour updates and other fun stuff), so now is a good time to see before the holidays start. Volcano Records has hinted that they may release another single early next year (January or February 2003), which may mean another video. In the meantime we're writing new songs at SkyLab, our studio in Brooklyn. With the delay in the releasing "VOLUMIZER" we now have a backlog of songs. In fact, live we play as many new songs as songs from "VOLUMIZER." In any event, we'll be mounting another nationwide tour in early February - see you there!

Comments:
GREAT ARTICLE!!! I'll have to go check them out!

Name: 2sjgirl
Comments:
2 skinnee j's by far is the hottest independent band on the planet...give it another year or two and you'll be seeing them on mtv..whether that's a good thing or not, they will be famous...if you haven't bought volumizer yet, something is wrong with you!

Name: Fresh Prince
Year: I was a FRESHmen
Major: Being Fresh
Comments:
Brice, they were at blacksburg top of the stairs two weeks ago...anywho they're supposed to be down here soon but the next time there in this area is at washington and lee...they're also coming to dc and baltimore soon...do you go here?

Name: Brice
Major: computers
Comments:
Best concert I ever went to was Two skinny J's playing at DC session. are they coming roun' here any time soon?

Name: Zak Santucci
Year: senior (in high school)
Major: don't know
Comments:
Dude, I'm Zak Santucci, from the article, and 2 Skinnee J's are the best band to ever step foot on a stage. Oh also, DougieFresh is by far the best columnist ever. I've gone to a couple J shows with him. But you should definitely have more articles about 2SJ, they're my dogs.

Comments:
i'm the biggest j vigilante...everyone who reads this article head over to www.earthboy.net/2sj/phpBB ....its the official 2 skinnee j message board

Comments:
skinnee 4 life! biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiatch

Name: jason
Comments:
the j's are definitley creative, i've seen them come out in space suits with fog walking in kinda slow motion, in karate gi's, and the mork from ork outfits, and they usually give some short political speaches/bitch sessions that are pretty funny, im a skinnee soldier for life.

Name: 2sjgirlfriends
Comments:
the j's are sooooooooooooo hot!!!

Name: lance corporal fan
Comments:
2 Skinnee J's= the greatest band in history.......seriously these guys put on the greatest shows.......i've seen them 4 tymes and its amazing to see the energy these guys bring to the stage...rock on j's

Name: aaron
Comments:
You should have asked me for some pictures from last years concert, I have plenty of them.

Comments:
FUCKIN AWESOME ARTICLE...2 SKINNEE J'S ARE THE SHIT. Volumizer has to be one of the greatest album ever. That's a good bio on them man, I never knew all that crap happened to them.

Name: doug's friend
Comments:
hell yeah doug...2 skinnee j's are the shit!