I feel like bootin’ up — The Take Fo’ story

Take Fo' Records

Take Fo’ Records
is a little known (outside of New Orleans) music label that truly broke ground with its motley roster of artists and progressive attitude, yet it’s never received adequate recognition for its pioneering role in music. Whereas New Orleans’s other big labels: Big Boy, Cash Money, MoboParkway Pumpin’, Untouchable, Tombstone and No Limit all seemed to consciously project a hard-as-nails image with tales of slangin’, bangin’, head bussin’ and wig splittin’, Take Fo’ welcomed gangstas but also ball busters, dancer-cum-rappers, party starters and probably the first openly gay rapper. Despite the possible negative associations that might come with being part of this hip hop Island of Misfit Toys, the rappers on Take Fo’ seemed unbothered and showed up on each others’ albums in a show of courageous support.

Take Fo’ evolved from the public access show Positive Black Talk that began in 1990 and was co-hosted by Earl J. Mackie. Their definition of “positive” wasn’t necessarily in line with American mores at large, where violence is pretty much embraced and sexuality is incredibly repressed. Even in New Orleans, which is largely a lot more open-minded, not everyone appreciated Mackie’s conception of positivity and he got grief from his pastor. But all of the show’s guests conveyed messages of self-empowerment in their own ways, even if they ruffled some feathers along the way.

 

 

Da' Sha Ra' Bootin' Up 
In 1992, Positive Black Talk lost its grant and Mackie hosted a dance at a local high school to raise funds for the show. The centerpiece was meant to be Da’Sha Ra’ (pictured above) but a special ed teacher asked if he could warm up the crowd. After half an hour of captivating the audience, Henry “Henry the Man” Holden and Mackie began to formulate a new idea. After raising more in one night than the show had in two years, they switched tracks and soon Positive Black Talk Inc. morphed into Take Fo’ Records and the show was no more. It took a couple months of pressure to get the warm up act, DJ Jubilee, to sign, as he already was committed to teaching and coaching, but he ultimately did and became the label’s biggest star. Joined by partner Elden Anderson, the new label operated in the back of Mackie’s father’s roofing business. Henry the Man and E-Jay handled the production for the tracks and the label’s ranks grew as more artists signed.
Take Fo' Family

In the early ’90s, Take Fo’ quickly became one of the two labels that most epitomized Bounce music, the other being Mobo. Cash Money and Big Boy were both then primarily focused on producing a gangstafied Bounce variant, pioneered by U.N.L.V., who coined the term Gangsta Bounce. No Limit, having started in Richmond, California, was decidedly straight gangsta, albeit with a southern flavor courtesy of the second line-influenced production of Beats By the Pound. Jubilee’s music, on the other hand, was in the vein of the Bounce’s pioneers, TT Tucker & DJ Irv, DJ Jimi and Everlasting Hitman— mixing the triggaman beat, the brown beat, calling out dance moves and shouting out wards, projects and occasionally neighboring southern states. “Stop Pause,” his debut single, sold 30,000 copies and gave the label its first hit. By the mid-to-late ’90s, Take Fo’s New Orleans neighbors had all but completely dropped the Bounce aspect of their music but Take Fo’ kept wobbling into the new millennium, ultimately spawning Bounce’s shrill, gay offshoot, Sissy Rap.

By the late ’90s, with the nationwide ascendancy of southern rap, the increasingly marginalized old record labels carpetbagged it down to N.O. hoping to exploit the city’s East and West coast obliterating scene. First, Priority signed a deal with No Limit, then Universal signed a major deal with Cash Money. In 1999, DJ Jubilee signed a deal with Tommy Boy but they didn’t allow him to record and eventually freed him. Meanwhile, Big Easy Distributing, Take Fo’s distributor, went out of business. That same year, Take Fo’s promoter, the legendary Bobby Marchan, also passed away.

Take Fo’ famously ended up going to court several times over the years. In one case, DJ Jubilee sued Juvenile, alleging that the Juve’s “Back That Azz Up” ripped off Jube’s “Back That Ass Up” based on the claim that he’d originated the dance at block parties. As much as I like Jubilee and feel bad that he’s never achieved anywhere near the fame he deserves, I have to say he didn’t really have a case since he wasn’t suing that his dance had been ripped of, but that his song had. Mannie Fresh, for his part, admitted that “Back That Azz Up” was inspired by Jubilee’s song, but with significantly varied production and even the lyrical conversion of what was a dance chant into more sexual territory, the court ruled in Juvenile’s favor. A few years later Take Fo’ sued Master P for breach of contract, alleging that No Limit failed to adequately pay Take Fo’ in their joint venture with Choppa and I guess they settled for an undisclosed sum.

 

Take Fo' Birthday Cake
In 2001, Take Fo’ became The New Take Fo’. After Katrina, the label relocated to Houston but returned by 2009, when they celebrated 17 years in the game. Whilst they may be fairly obscure, they’ve shown remarkable perseverance, a defiant open-mindedness, and created some classic music along the way.

Partial Take Fo’ timeline/discography

Flesh & Blood

1994 – Flesh & Blood – Flesh & Blood

Da' Sha Ra' Still Bootin' Up DJ Jubilee Stop PauseDJ Jubilee & the Cartoon Crew

1995 – Da’Sha’Ra – Still Bootin’ Up, DJ Jubilee – Stop Pause, DJ Jubilee – DJ Jubilee & the Cartoon Crew

 

War Time Big Al & Lil Tee DJ Jubilee 20 Years in the Jets

1996 – War Time featuring The Hideout – The Album,  Big Al & Lil Tee – B***h You Know Who I Am, DJ Jubilee – 20 Years in the Jets

2-Sweet Actin' Bad Willie Puckett Doggie Hopp

1997 – 2-Sweet – Actin’ Bad, Willie Puckett – Doggie Hop, DJ Jubilee – Get Ready, Ready!


(original Choppa Style – poor quality)

 


Willie Puckett DJ Jubilee Take it to the St. Thomas

1998 – Willie Puckett – Million Dollar Hot Boy, DJ Jubilee – Take it to the St. Thomas

 

 K.C. Redd It's a G-Thang Lisa Amos - Cause You Love Me
1999 – Katey Red & Dem Hoes – Melpomene Block Party, K.C. Redd [RIP] & the Shake ’em Up Girls– It’s a G-Thang, Lisa Amos – Cause You Love Me

DJ Jubilee Do Ya Thang Girl! Katey REd Y2 Katey Tec-9 Ready 4 War

2000 – DJ Jubilee – Do Yo Thing Girl!, Katey Red – Y2 Katy, Tec-9 – Ready 4 War

 

Choppa Style DJ Duck The Remixxes Junie Bezel That's How Mess Get Started

2001 – Choppa – Choppa Style, DJ Duck – Duck Remixxes, Junie Bezel – That’s How Mess Get Started

Post Script: Kasey “K.C. Redd” Segue was shot to death in 2006. Katey Red filmed her first video in 2011, for “Where Da Melph At?”

*****

Eric Brightwell is an adventurer, writer, rambler, explorer, cartographer, and guerrilla gardener who is always seeking writing, speaking, traveling, and art opportunities — or salaried work. He is not interested in writing advertorials, clickbait, listicles, or other 21st century varieties of spam. Brightwell’s written work has appeared in AmoeblogdiaCRITICS, and KCET Departures. His work has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft & Folk Art MuseumForm Follows FunctionLos Angeles County StoreSkid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured in the Los Angeles TimesHuffington PostLos Angeles MagazineLAistEastsider LABoing BoingLos Angeles, I’m Yours, and on Notebook on Cities and Culture. He has been a guest speaker on KCRW‘s Which Way, LA? and at Emerson College. Art prints of his maps are available from 1650 Gallery and on other products from Cal31. He is currently writing a book about Los Angeles and you can follow him on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

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