Goin’ Off: The Story of the Juice Crew & Cold Chillin’ Records Out Now

4 min read
Goin’ Off: The Story of the Juice Crew & Cold Chillin’ Records Out Now



Narrative/Oral History of Pioneering Hip-Hop Collective and Record Label That Spawned Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie, Marley Marl, Roxanne Shanté, Wu-Tang Clans GZA, Masta Ace and Others Contains Classic and Unpublished Photos, Foreword By Peanut Butter Wolf


On November 5, BMG Books published Goin’ Off: The Story of the Juice Crew & Cold Chillin’ Records by Ben Merlis. The book, which is part of the RPM Series that focuses on record labels, is part narrative and part oral history, assembled from exclusive interviews with over thirty recording artists and industry veterans. With a foreword written by producer/DJ/Stones Throw label owner Peanut Butter Wolf, and several dozen classic and unpublished photographs, Goin’ Off captures the spirit and energy of the time just before Hip-Hop was a household word.


Order Goin’ Off: The Story of the Juice Crew & Cold Chillin’ Records: https://www.amazon.com/Goin-Off-Story-Chillin-Records/dp/1947026321/


Amidst Hip-Hop’s initial explosion throughout New York’s boroughs and surrounding towns, a new generation emerged – the first to be raised on the genre. In the center of it all was a collective known as the Juice Crew, led by the charismatic radio personality Mr. Magic, whose Rap Attack was the first program of its kind on a commercial station. His DJ/engineer Marley Marl pioneered production techniques that defined the Golden Era of Hip-Hop and formed the basis of Cold Chillin’ Records, founded in 1986 by Len Fichtelberg and manager/radio producer Tyrone “Fly Ty” Williams.


Goin’ Off chronicles the rise and fall of the label and its partnership with Warner Bros. Records and follows the careers of its recording artists. Roxanne Shanté was a 14-year-old battle rapper who spawned the diss record, MC Shan engaged in a legendary cross-borough feud with KRS-One, Kool G Rap was a foundational participant in what the media dubbed “gangsta rap,” Big Daddy Kane’s quick-witted lyricism changed the way people rhyme, the collegiate Masta Ace sought to uplift his community during the height of the crack epidemic, The Genius (aka GZA) co-founded the rap dynasty Wu-Tang Clan, and the enigmatic Biz Markie had the world singing along to his platinum-selling anthem “Just a Friend.”


Plagued by corporate censorship in the wake of the “Cop Killer” controversy and a landmark sample-related lawsuit just as Hip-Hop was entering the mainstream conscience in the 1990s, Cold Chillin’ folded, leaving behind a legacy shrouded in controversy and a catalog that directly influenced multiple generations of rap artists, including Nas, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, Biggie Smalls and Kendrick Lamar.


“Inspired by labels like Cold Chillin’, I started my own ‘true school’ Hip-Hop label Stones Throw in 1996,” states Peanut Butter Wolf in the foreword for Goin’ Off, whose own label has had great success with Mad Lib, J Dilla, MF DOOM and Aloe Blacc. “I had people (including family members) tell me for years and years that I’d never be able to make it in the music industry, but the inspiration I received from those Juice Crew records during my teen years were the impetus for my label creation.”


Interwoven into the narrative are exclusive interviews with artists such as Big Daddy Kane, Craig G, Masta Ace, Kool G Rap, Grand Daddy I.U., Ced Gee (Ultramagnetic MCs), industry veterans like Mo Ostin (Warner Bros.), Fly Ty and Dee Joseph (Cold Chillin’), Tom Silverman and Monica Lynch (Tommy Boy), Aaron Fuchs (Tuff City) and DJ/producers Arthur Baker, Mister Cee and Easy Mo Bee that paint a multiple-angled picture of the ‘80s and early ‘90s scene.


During the writing of Goin’ Off, author Ben Merlis worked closely with George DuBose – the photographer and designer of the vast majority of the Cold Chillin’ catalog. DuBose, who is also known for his iconic B-52’s and Ramones album covers, contributed several candid photos from photo sessions with Kool G Rap & DJ Polo, Grand Daddy I.U., Big Daddy Kane, Mr. Magic and others, including many from the legendary photo session of Juice Crew luminaries standing in front of a Learjet in 1988.


Events are confirmed in New York and Los Angeles around the release of Goin’ Off: The Story of the Juice Crew & Cold Chillin’ Records, with more events in the planning stages for Europe and the UK in the spring of 2020. Author Ben Merlis is currently available for interviews.


Read HipHopDX’s piece on Goin’ Off: The Story of the Juice Crew & Cold Chillin’ Records: https://hiphopdx.com/news/id.48887/title.upcoming-book-explores-rise-fall-of-cold-chillin-records


Instagram: @coldchillinbook


About the author

Ben Merlis is a native of Los Angeles, where he was raised on oldies, Hip-Hop, and punk, in that order. He currently writes for uDiscover Music and works in public relations for Experience Hendrix, ABKCO, ZZ Top and many others.


About the RPM Series by BMG Books

BMG’s RPM Series examines the histories of important record labels from various eras and musical genres. Each volume is seven inches by seven inches to mirror the dimensions of a 45 RPM record. Other books in the series include World Domination: The Sub Pop Records Story (by Gillian G. Gaar), Shake Your Hips: The Excello Records Story (by Randy Fox), and Rip It Up: The Specialty Records Story (by Billy Vera). Forthcoming titles will examine the histories of Chrysalis, Slash, and Arista Records.

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