By Jay Are
March 4, 2008
For nearly 15 years I have lived as a contributor and recipient of the Sacramento underground music scene. During that time some great musicians have come and gone. Some achieved monetary success or major label record deals whereas others worked diligently in relative obscurity but all are deserving of praise and respect for continuing to stoke the fires of underground music in the 916.
No discussion of Sacramento’s underground could be complete without a mention of The C.U.F. [California Underground Funk – among other acronyms]. The chance to write a story about The C.U.F. for UBO Magazine is not just to feature these pioneers in Sacramento hip-hop but a history lesson as well.
Formed in ‘93, members Crush, Pete, Brother R.J., N8 the Gr8, and Don Won are “…damn near brothers,” according to Pete and have been as productive as bees. With over 14 albums to their collective and individual credits, these hip-hoppers have put their money, time and energies where there mouths are.
Whether as solo acts (N8, Brother R.J.) or as subgroups (Good for Nothing, Deep Fried Funk Brothers) the passion and commitment these guys have for the music is obvious.
“We just make music from what we know and what we do. It sounds clichéd but we do it for the love of it,” says Pete whose love for music has taken The C.U.F. on tours through Europe and Asia, to stages with the likes of Ice Cube and Run DMC and in studio with groups such as The Living Legends.
Next up for members, Pete B, DJ Mad G, and N8 the Gr8, also known as The Deep Fried Funk Brothers is their album entitled “Three” released March ’08. Back in the day, members Pete, N8 and Crush, making up their sub-group Good For Nothing, released the project “The Real Sacramento Kings.” They were invited to KBMB 103.5 to record an interview and some jingles for the station. Roughly a year later, R.J. released his solo album “Mobhop,” on KBMB’s underground show, “Ground Zero.” The C.U.F.’s fluidity with which they could break off for side projects then reassemble was a marval. Even now, with D.F.F.B.’s release rapidly approaching, The C.U.F. have once again reformed.
“A C.U.F. album is nearing completion,” according to Pete but as of this story release, there is no album title or release date set.
“People haven’t heard from us in a while,” Don Won puts it in context.
“Collectively,” adds N8.
The C.U.F.’s evolution has literally taken them from boys to grown men and today the once youthful kids who first joined forces in ‘93 have kids of their own. Nonetheless, growing up hasn’t meant leaving hip-hop behind.
“You can get worn out if you try to make a career out of [music] but we keep doing it because we like doing it,” R.J. entertains.
And not only are they doing it but they are passing down their love to the next generation. In ‘04 Talib Kweli performed at The Colonial Theater in Oak Park with a green, nervous emcee by the name of Kanye West. Before these hip-hoppers took the stage, an eye opener from a spunky emcee with a bit of swagger by the name of Lil N8, N8 the Gr8’s son, took the stage. In addition to rocking stages when big names come through, Lil N8 is also featured on some of the D.F.F.B. and C.U.F. projects.
“It’s been a long, good ride; me and my dysfunctional brothers. What we gon[na] do stop?” says R.J.
The C.U.F. are just one example of hip-hop’s core generation getting older and wiser, yet staying true to their love of this music and culture. Let’s hope the days of talented emcees ‘retiring’ at 30-years-old are long past. Hip-hop needs to grow, evolve and mature, just as with The C.U.F., these transitions bring a richness and depth to the culture that is definitely needed. Support 916’s underground and independent music and show respect to hip-hop pioneers, The C.U.F.