Big Shots: The Rapper Charizma’s Only Album Release and How It Influenced the Founding of Label Stones Throw Records

(Rap so strong

And Rap so def),

I got Methods!

– “Methods”

I was in high school the first time I heard a Peanut Butter Wolf track. With no concept of where “Methods” was culturally situated, it made its rounds in my daily rotation. All I knew was that it was a feel-good track, but not in an active way. It just felt breezy, sunny, and light. It would instill that type of feeling in me as I moved through mundane tasks in a cold and sterilized environment at my volunteering gig at a local hospital in the Midwest. I remember “Cab Fare” by the Hieroglyphics crew was also in the same playlist I put “Methods” in, another Bay Area Hip Hop anthem with the same early 90s aesthetic. Today in 2003, Big Shots was posthumously released through Stones Throw Records. Although the album wasn’t released until ‘03, Wolf put out a 12” single of “My World Premiere” in ‘96 through the newly founded Stones Throw Records. In fact, “My World Premiere” was Stones Throw Record’s first-ever release. 

Album cover of Big Shots
Stones Throw’s debut release, the 12-inch single by Charizma & Peanut Butter Wolf, which was recorded circa 1993 and released in 1996.

The album by Peanut Butter Wolf and Charizma was recorded between 1991 and 1993 for Hollywood BASIC, Disney Music Group’s short-lived Hip Hop subsidiary. The founding of Stones Throw Records followed the same template that spurred MF DOOM to come out with Operations Doomsday and KRS-One to veer increasingly towards political rap; after the murder of someone very close paired with a general distaste for the music industry, Wolf founded Stones Throw with the dedication for preserving artists’ creative freedom. 

The 19-year-old Wolf and 16-year-old Charizma entered the game during rap’s Golden Age. They would become a solid duo with their own style and opening up “for everybody when they would come into town [in regards to Black Sheep, Nas, and Cypress Hill].” Watching some footage from the “Stones Throw 102: In Living the True Gods” DVD, the two clearly had a special connection and way of working and being with each other. Wolf says, “He brought out the crazy side of me I always knew I had. It was just bundled up.” They were ridiculous and despite recording in “a dumpy place in San Jose,” the two “acted like they were being filmed by MTV.” After receiving news of Charizma’s death, Wolf stopped making music for several months. But, he eventually found beat-making and DJing as a way to deal with the pain; Wolf would go on to do compilations, instrumentals, and production work. He eventually made some demos from tracks he and Charizma recorded and passed them out, but no one was too serious about the project at the time. But, it was also during this time that Wolf discovered his affinity for promotion. 

Still in the back of my mind, I wanted to release the Charizma songs. Making the dream a reality.

– Peanut Butter Wolf

The name “Stones Throw” actually came from an inside joke between Peanut Butter Wolf and Charizma. The friendship and story that inspired the inception of the legendary West Coast label still underline how Wolf runs the label to this day: a deeply personal label, he simply puts out what he likes and doesn’t give a shit about any other metric. In the notes of a Big Shots CD repress, it reads “This album is dedicated to the memory of Charles “Charizma” Hicks (July 6, 1973 – December 16, 1993). STOP THE VIOLENCE.”

A collection of never before seen photos and ephemera from the CHARIZMA & PB WOLF – CIRCA 1990-1993 4LP Boxset, which came out in 2014 and was a tribute to his friend and musical partner.

Charizma’s music career was short-lived, but sifting through digital archives, he had a clear impact on figures in the music scene and fans alike with many ruminating on the potential he could’ve grown into. From being praised in publications like AllMusic to East Bay Express, Charizma and Wolf’s only album together is regarded as an overlooked Hip Hop gem. Shortly after his death, DJ Dave Paul from the Bomb Hip Hop Magazine included Charizma in an album that featured the best Hip Hop artists of the Bay Area, alongside Blackalicious, Qbert, and Mystic Journeymen. And the “My World Premiere” track even got KRS-One’s co-sign after it played at his “Step Into A World” video shoot. 

Big Shots is a golden ticket to when it was all so simple.

– Craig Smith from URB Magazine

Uniquely carefree yet witty and nimble, sip on some apple juice in Charizma’s memory and take a listen. 

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.