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Grown up and supersonic

  • COURTESY PHOTO
    The present-day J.J. Fad — MIchelle “Sassy C” Williams, left, Juana “MC J.B.” Burns and Dania “Baby-D” Birks — return to perform in Hawaii after 20-plus years as part of the Ladies of the ’80s concert bill.
  • COURTESY PHOTO
  • COURTESY PHOTO
  • COURTESY PHOTO
    After taking time off from music-making careers to raise families
  • COURTESY PHOTO
  • COURTESY PHOTO
    After taking time off from music-making careers to raise families, J.J. Fad makes a “Supersonic” return.
  • Juana “MC J.B.” Burns and Dania “Baby-D” Birks — return to perform in Hawaii after 20-plus years as part of the Ladies of the ’80s concert bill.
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In 1988, a trio of young women were at the top of their game. Their hit single "Supersonic" was a national hit with platinum-number sales. When it earned a Grammy nomination, they were the first female rap group to do so.

MC J.B., Baby-D and Sassy C. were also part of the Ruthless Records stable, run by Dr. Dre and Eazy-E of N.W.A., who themselves were the main instigators for putting Los Angeles gangsta rap on the hip-hop map.

"Now all you supersonic people try to bite our rhyme

You may think that you are def but you’re way behind

You better listen good to what we have to say

‘Cause when it comes to J.J. Fad you can get no play

Supersonic …"

 

In fact, N.W.A. blew up so large that when it came time to work and promote J.J. Fad’s second album, Dre and Eazy had little to no time to work with them. A year after that, 1992, priorities had changed for the women, as they started families, so they decided to dissolve the act.

Thanks to a new generation of hip-hop artists, though, interest in J.J. Fad started up again in recent years — particularly when Fergie interpolated "Supersonic" into her 2006 hit "Fergalicious."

That was enough to get the women to think of restarting their long-delayed music careers, and it helped that their kids had grown up. So in 2009, to help celebrate 21 years of their lone, though highly influential, single, J.J. Fad went back to work — and Juana Burns, Dania Birks and Michelle Franklin are on tour again.

The trio is part of the latest Ladies of the ’80s concert bill to hit Hawaii. This weekend’s lineup includes Expose, Klymaxx and Lisa Lisa.

Burns (whose married name is Sperling) said by phone from her Fresno, Calif., home last week that, yes, "we are working on a new album, gathering producers and writers, so everything is good right now.

"Because of the success of Fergie’s song, we found out that there was still interest in us out there. Some of the old-school shows that we did early on were received amazingly well, so we decided to give it another shot."

J.J. FAD actually started off as a foursome. The original version of "Supersonic" was on the small, independent Dream Team label. "The owner talked to Eric (Wright, aka Eazy-E) and asked if he could do something with us," Burns said. "So when

we became a trio, we re-recorded it for Ruthless — and that’s when the song really took off.

"We toured for almost a solid two years on bills that included N.W.A., Run-DMC and the Fresh Prince and Jazzy Jeff. Unfortunately for us, when we got back in the studio to do our second record, Dre and Ice Cube (another N.W.A. member) were already getting popular, so we were pushed to the back burner.

LADIES OF THE ’80S III FEATURING EXPOSE, KLYMAXX, LISA LISA AND J.J. FAD

Where: Blaisdell Arena

When: 7 p.m. tomorrow

Cost: $45-$100 (10 percent military discount available)

Info: 591-2211, www.ticketmaster.com

 

THE LADIES’ HITS OF THE ’80S (AND THEREABOUTS):

J.J. Fad: "Supersonic" (1987), "Is It Love" (1988), "Be Good Ta Me" (1990), "We In the House" (1990)

Lisa Lisa: "I Wonder If I Take You Home" (1985), "Can You Feel the Beat" (1985), "All Cried Out" (1986), "Head to Toe" (1987), "Little Jacki Wants to Be a Star" (1989), "Just Git It Together" (1989), "Kiss Your Tears Away" (1989), "Let the Beat Hit ‘Em" (1991), "Where Were You When I Needed You" (1991)

Klymaxx: "Meeting In the Ladies Room" (1985), "I Miss You" (1985), "The Men All Pause" (1985), "Man Size Love" (1986), "I’d Still Say Yes" (1987), "Good Love" (1990)

Expose: (above) "Point of No Return" (1985), "Exposed to Love" (1986), "Come Go With Me" (1987), "Let Me Be the One" (1987), "Seasons Change" (1988), "What You Don’t Know" (1989), "Your Baby Never Looked Good in Blue" (1989), "I’ll Never Get Over You Getting Over Me" (1993)

 

"We were told ‘Dre wants to produce other projects ahead of you.’ But ‘Supersonic’ was almost two years old then, so we felt we needed to get back into the studio. Finally, we were told (N.W.A. members) DJ Yella and Arabian Prince would produce; but then it turned out that the label didn’t take the time to promote the record after it was finished."

"Not Just a Fad," that follow-up album, "was just a huge mistake," said Burns. The women don’t perform anything off of that failed sophomore effort in concert.

After that chapter in the life of J.J. Fad came to a disappointing close, the women turned their attention to raising their families. Burns has four of her own, plus a stepson, ranging in ages "20 down to 9."

Things turned around years later when they were told, a week before it came out, that Fergie’s song included so much of the sound and structure of "Supersonic" that they were getting a co-writing credit. Needless to say, the ladies were excited, and the subsequent royalties they received from the new song weren’t too bad either.

Now J.J. Fad is back in nearly full effect. "Now’s a good time to do music again," Burns said. "Our older kids can help watch the younger ones, so we can go at it 100 percent.

"With the new songs, we wanna go back to our roots and do what we do best. The music from the ’80s, with the sound of the old-school Roland 808 drum beats, I think is being received a little better now than before."

With Arabian Prince on turntables, expect the mature J.J. Fad to bust out not only "Supersonic" on stage tomorrow night, but also favorites from their first album such as "Way Out," "Let’s Get Hyped" and "My Dope Intro."

"J.J. Fad never split up," she said. "We just took a lot of time off. We wanted to be here for our families. There was no arguments or fights that turned into a bitter breakup. It’s just that taking a couple of years off turned into 20 years."

 

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