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, Mobo, Parkway 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.
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.
Partial Take Fo’ timeline/discography
1994 – Flesh & Blood – Flesh & Blood
1995 – Da’Sha’Ra – Still Bootin’ Up, DJ Jubilee – Stop Pause, DJ Jubilee – DJ Jubilee & the Cartoon Crew
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
1997 – 2-Sweet – Actin’ Bad, Willie Puckett – Doggie Hop, DJ Jubilee – Get Ready, Ready!
(original Choppa Style – poor quality)
1998 – Willie Puckett – Million Dollar Hot Boy, DJ Jubilee – Take it to the St. Thomas
2000 – DJ Jubilee – Do Yo Thing Girl!, Katey Red – Y2 Katy, Tec-9 – Ready 4 War
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 Amoeblog, diaCRITICS, and KCET Departures. His work has been featured by the American Institute of Architects, the Architecture & Design Museum, the Craft & Folk Art Museum, Form Follows Function, Los Angeles County Store, Skid Row Housing Trust, and 1650 Gallery. Brightwell has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Magazine, LAist, Eastsider LA, Boing Boing, Los 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 Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
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