Words by Peanut Butter Wolf
2023 marks 50 years since Charizma was born and 30 years since he passed. We had lots of dreams together when we started as a group and by the time it was all over, some were realized but most were not. We wanted to be on In Living Color, Soul Train, Yo! MTV Raps, Rap City, The Source Magazine, etc. We DID sign to a label, and we DID get to travel to Europe for some shows with members of Digital Underground (who told us stories of their dancer named Tupac, who had just signed to a label and released his own song “Brenda’s Got A Baby”). We DID get to open for artists like House Of Pain, Cypress Hill, and Nas – who hadn’t yet recorded Illmatic – and we DID get to go on The Wakeup Show and get interviewed by Sway. Looking back, I realize things really were starting to happen for us! But we never did make that music video or finish that album when he passed December 16th, 1993 at age 20.
10 years after I released our album Big Shots in 2003, I edited together a music video for “Red Light Green Light” with Andrew Gura using archival footage of Charizma shot by my friend John Castro and myself with my dad’s camcorder. I’ve always wanted to do something animated, but back in 2003, I didn’t really have the resources. We don’t make it a habit of doing something new for something old. But this year, I challenged myself on that rule. Why does everything have to be attached to a release date or a current artist? As soon as I came up with the idea, I nervously hit up Charizma’s mom and she gave me her full blessing. I also contacted his then-girlfriend Marie to gauge her feelings on it and get old pictures of her.
Like many people, I found out about James Blagden 14 years ago when he animated former major league baseball pitcher Dock Ellis’s no hitter under the influence of acid. The Pirates were my favorite baseball team as a kid and still are now, so I was well aware of Dock Ellis, but never knew this story. I discovered James through Michael Rapaport, who went on and on about it and how he wanted James to do the animations for Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest documentary I did the music supervision for. Well, the Tribe film happened, James animated the intro sequence, and I did the music supervision. James and I stayed in touch off and on for those 14 years and I always wanted him to do an animated video for Stones Throw, but nothing got past the idea phase.
Fast forward to 2023 and I had recently DJ’d James’s birthday party. James had moved from New York to up the street from where I lived in LA and we got reacquainted. He told me his favorite Stones Throw song of all time was “Talk About A Girl” by Charizma and me. I thought that was odd because even though it was one of my faves when we created it, it was meant more as an album interlude like “Apple Juice Break” to give the album more variety, like our favorite, De La’s “3 Feet High and Rising”. We never thought of it as a “single” or even a full song. Around the same time, I was working on a remix for Ninja Tune/Big Dada artist Rahill and she told me that she and her homies would recite “Talk About A Girl” line for line when they were younger – another shocker for me to hear.
The “Talk About A Girl” video that James came up with had everything I was hoping for. It had a sense of humor, personality, and heart. It was a release of emotion for me to watch it with my wife and 3-year-old daughter and for Charizma’s mom, who basically described the same thing I felt when she saw it for the first time.